27 July 2011

Nigeria: No One Has Monopoly of Violence, Oritsejafor Tells Shariah Council

As the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria (SCSN) has said that Nigerian Muslims would rather go to war than give up the quest for Islamic Banking, the president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, has stated that violence is not the preserve of one person.

Oritsejafor, who addressed the press yesterday at the general aviation terminal (GAT), Lagos on arrival from a trip overseas, said that if a group of people advocate violence, they should not expect others to fold their arms.

"Let me tell you this, nobody can intimidate me or the Church. There are so many things that just happen in Nigeria that people just allow. Now, if a group of people say they are prepared to go to war, won't you also expect us to respond to that naturally? But by the time we start responding, people will turn around and say 'you are heating up the polity'. It is difficult for me to comprehend; my only response to what you have said for now is that I want to assume they were misquoted.

"But I will be surprised if the SCSN thinks the best way to find a solution to a problem and to bring peace to Nigeria is to declare war. Violence is not the preserve of one person, anybody can be violent and we don't advocate that. I will never come out to say we are prepared for war, but you are hearing it now. Let me settle down, you will hear our response and they will also get our response. We love Nigeria," he declared.

The PFN president explained that no one is against the Muslims wanting a bank that would meet their needs, but that it is wrong for the governor of the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to spend state funds promoting a sectional banking system.

"We are not basically against Muslims. You can have a bank that will meet your needs. What we are saying is this, does the law of this country permit the CBN governor to spend state money promoting a sectional banking system? We are not against non-interest banking; after all, it started from the Bible. It is the Bible that every other person has imitated. You see, it's like someone or some persons are trying to blindfold Nigerians, but what we are against is the sectional non-interest banking.

The CBN is the CBN of Nigeria and not CBN of northern Nigeria or of Islamic Nigeria. It's a CBN of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that comprises everybody. Now, how do you take state funds running into billions to promote one kind of non-interest banking? That is a question that must be answered. It is absolutely wrong," said Oritsejafor.

Reacting to the call for amnesty for the members of the violent Boko Haram religious sect and the threat by a Christian group in the North to retaliate the killings of Christians in that region, the clergyman prayed the situation would not degenerate into a religious war.

"No nation survives a religious war. I pray that Nigeria will not get to that point. Boko Haram is not just a group that came up because of economic reasons, but is purely a religious group with religious ideology. How do you now give amnesty to them? Are you going to tell them to give up their religious beliefs? The only way I think you can do this - I don't rule out dialogue, but I think dialogue should begin within the North itself, among the Muslim leaders. We are not hearing their voices. When we had problems in the Niger Delta, we heard a lot of Niger Deltans shouting and making noise," he said.

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