Ahead of the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Jama’artu Nasir Islam (JNI) have signed a peace pact to de-escalate religious tensions during the polls.
The peace pact is meant to ensure a peaceful and secure environment among Nigerians for the purpose of having a friendly atmosphere before, during, and after the 2023 general elections for the citizens to freely exercise their franchises.
The peace accord was signed in Washington D.C., United States at the International Religious Freedom Summit 2022.
Prof. Yusuf Usman, represented the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, the President-General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), and CAN was represented by Rev. Samson Ayokunle, its immediate past President towards ensuring the success of signing the peace pact by the two.
The leadership of Christian and Muslim organisations assured its support to harmoniously work together, avoid violence, embrace dialogue, and remain committed to building resilient communities that are free from fear for Nigerians to be able to cast their votes for candidates of their choice in a conducive environment, in a statement issued by Rev. Ayokunle.
The statement explained that the two religious bodies also promised to embrace a vision of common humanity and speak publicly of hope for Nigeria’s peaceful and bright future generations by embracing each other as members of the same family.
According to the statement, it is a difficult time in Nigeria, with ever-escalating security crises and an overwhelming loss of trust in the government, adding that unfortunately, so much of the crisis in Nigeria has had a religious context leading to loss of lives and destruction of property in different parts of the country that had drawn the country backward in all spheres of life.
The statement noted, “I recall the horrifying death of Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu murdered by a mob because of allegations of blasphemy. Likewise, the shocking attack on the St Francis Xavier Catholic Church on Pentecost Sunday that left so many dead. And nearly every day there seems to be another priest kidnapped or killed.”
At the same time, the statement stated that there are so many across Nigeria, Muslims and Christians alike, who abhor the ongoing violence and want to live in peace with their brethren of other faiths as they have done for so long.
It observed that the Sultan of Sokoto is one of those men and thanked him for how he swiftly condemned these kinds of attacks, stressing that Christians and Muslims would only build a stronger Nigeria that is able to tackle these urgent issues that are destroying the country from lack of security, accountability, and corruption, to conflicts between different peoples and faiths, to hunger and the economic situation, if religious leaders determine together to truly lead their people.
According to the statement, that was why it was important for the Sultan and CAN to sign the ‘Declaration for a Peaceful and Secure Nigeria’, and to do so on the world stage of the desire of citizens to live in harmony irrespective of any different.
It said the declaration signed lays out a number of principles that they believe all Nigerians can readily affirm as it states that all people are endowed by the Creator with inherent value and fundamental rights, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, culture, region, or the many other differences that often divide them, and that the essential freedom and dignity of every person must be respected and protected for the sustenance of peace, unity, and development.
Ayokunle said that they also pledged to demand that free and fair democratic elections should be conducted in peace and for the benefit of all Nigerians regardless of ethnicity, religion or geographical zone in the 2023 general elections.