An Islamic group, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has asked Nigerians to reject recent claim by Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) that Nigeria might cease to exist if the killings in the northern part of the country continue till 2019.
The group, in a statement released on Monday by its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, described the comment of the RCCG Overseer as a “message of doom” which should be rejected by the people.
“Nations are not run on prophecies and divisive messages but on industry, love, fortitude, unity, honesty, and determination,” MURIC said while affirming its rejection of the prediction of the Christian cleric," it said.
The organization also said killings and cattle rustling which it claimed were being carried out by thieves and criminals from neighboring countries like Niger, Chad, and Mali have been part of the Nigerian history since the early 60S.
MURIC said while the killings have continued mainly due to Nigeria’s porous borders, “Nigerians exploit religious rivalry and acrobatic religiosity instead of engaging in diligent investigations. We are blaming ourselves for nothing.”
“Nigerian Christian leaders initially accused Muslims in the country of sponsoring Boko Haram to kill Christians. All denials fell on deaf ears. Foul language was used. Provocative statements were issued. Nigerian Muslim leaders exhibited patience throughout those terrible days.
“Today the picture has become clearer to the Christian leaders as Boko Haram has killed more Muslims than Christians (including an Emir) and destroyed more mosques than churches,” the group said while accusing the media of presenting a wrong picture of killings going on in Nigeria.
“The truth is that both Christians and Muslims are victims of killings, though Christians may have the advantage of media support to use killings on its side as a propaganda tool.
“The Nigerian media hardly hype reports of Muslim deaths, nor do they report them correctly with their religious affiliation. Meanwhile, Muslims do not use their dead victims for propaganda because, as a rule, Muslims bury their dead speedily whereas Christians delay the burial of their dead and openly display them. But the fact is that the monkey is also sweating but the hair on its skin may not allow people to see it.
"Thus, when Muslims are killed, the Nigerian media uses captions like “85 killed in Maiduguri Explosion” or “76 Die as Hoodlums Invade Zamfara Village”. But when Christians are killed, the language and style change. The caption is “Fulani Herdsmen Murder 22 Christians.
"It is for this reason that Pastor Adeboye needs to direct his warnings at the Nigerian press, not at the government. Government is not escalating the crisis, but the press is. Their asymmetrical reportage poses a great danger to peaceful coexistence in a multi-religious Nigeria.
“Pastor Adeboye should also note that things are not usually what they look like from a distance. Benue militias have been caught disguised as Fulani herdsmen. None of the hoodlums caught by the military in the ongoing operation in Benue could speak Fulani language, yet they dressed like Fulani herdsmen and carried AK47 rifles.
“Fake military camps have also been exposed in the same Middle Belt. Militiamen arrested have confessed that the Christian state governors are their sponsors.
“So, why does Adeboye refuse to acknowledge the killing of Muslims? Who are the Benue and Taraba militiamen killing?”
The group urged Adeboye not only to refrain from making comments that it said are ‘provocative,’ but to stop others from doing so.
“We appeal to Pastor Adeboye to refrain from making inflammatory statements. The Redeemed Church Overseer should also persuade his junior priests to water down their firebrand proselytization. There is a world of difference between prayers, threats and ill will," it said.
"Let us concentrate on prayers when we organize assemblies ostensibly for prayers. Let us not use such occasions to incite followers in any manner. That is a criminal digression.
"Preachers should not just be playing to the gallery. As religious leaders, our influence on our followers is immense and they take our admonitions as commandments, we must, therefore, lead responsibly. Let Christian and Muslim leaders preach love, tolerance, forgiveness and, most especially, unity.
"We all stand to lose if there is war or if Nigeria breaks. Statements accusing the government of lukewarm attitude to the ‘killing of Christians’ mislead the outside world.
“It paints the wrong picture and robs the Nigerian authorities of friends and allies who are willing to supply sophisticated weapons needed to stop the killings.
“In essence, we are cutting our noses to spite our faces. We are simply helping Boko Haram to sustain its propaganda."