6 January 2013

Nigeria: NASS Ready to Enact Law to Fight Religious Extremism - Mark

Abuja — The Senate President, Sen. David Mark, has said that the National Assembly is willing and ready to enact a law to address religious extremism in Nigeria. Mark made this known at a reception organised in honour of John Cardinal Onaiyekan on his 30th Episcopal ordination and his recent elevation to the College of Cardinals in Abuja on Sunday.

He said that the National Assembly was willing to make the religious environment much friendlier by enacting laws that would fight all forms of religious intolerance and extremism in the society. The senate president said that the legislature was holistically looking at the issue of immorality in the society without preference to any particular one.

"We are ready to support religious activities that will foster unity in the country, we are ready to make laws that will fight religious extremism in the country," he said. He said that the issues would be addressed as they were presented to the National Assembly.

Mark said that the senate had already passed the bill on gay marriage and was awaiting the report of the House of Representatives before it would be sent to the executive. Earlier in his homily at the church service, Onaiyekan reminded Nigerians of the need for religious tolerance and mutual respect.

He said tolerance and mutual respect would help in building peace and harmony amongst Nigerians irrespective of their backgrounds and status in the society. The cardinal spoke against the practise of what he described as 'the religion of exclusion'.

In the same vein, the President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, called on Nigerians to use religion to fight social and moral vices in the society. Kaigama, who is the Archbishop of Jos, said that issues of corruption, kidnapping, drug addiction and terrorism, could be fought using the instrumentality of religion.

He decried the use of religion to cause disaffection, violence and destruction in parts of the country. He said that Nigerians possessed the capacity to use religion for the good of the society, the transformation of the economy and the moral development of the citizenry.

Kaigama urged all Nigerians to take advantage of the positive image created for Nigeria by Onaiyeka's recognition by Vatican and reverse all the negative stories told about their nation. "Nigerians must ride on this wave of positive international recognition to correct the negative image of the country in the international community," he said.

He advised the cardinal not to relent in the good works that had earned him many accolades both within and outside Nigeria. Kaigama urged the cardinal to be more vocal in the church's condemnation of sexual immorality, same sex marriage, corruption and other ills affecting different communities across the globe.

The mass held at the Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro cathedral, was attended by catholic faithful and the clergy in and outside Abuja President Goodluck Jonathan, his Mother, Mrs Eunice Jonathan, some state governors and their deputies, some members of the National Assembly and the Federal Executive Council attended the anniversary.

Others were representations from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Anglican Communion in Nigeria, the Nigeria Interreligious Council (NIREC), the Sultan of Sokoto, and a special delegation from the Kogi . Kaigama, led other bishops from Nigeria and other parts of Africa to the celebration. (NAN)

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