The Youth Christian and Muslim Forum of Nigeria (YCMFN) says allegations of Christian genocide in Nigeria by All-Party Parliamentary Group in the United Kingdom (APPG) is false and misleading.
Instead of paint religious element behind violence in the country, the inter-faith forum rather advised the UK parliamentarians to concern itself with the sanctity of all human lives irrespective of religion or ethnic biases and see to doing enough in collaboration with the Nigerian government to halt any further killings anywhere in the country.
YCMFN made this strong stand known in a virtual press statement on Saturday signed by its National President, Pastor Phillip Attah.
A recent report by APPG on 'Freedom of Religion and Belief, Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide?', had alleged religious colouration in Boko Haram, banditry and other violent attacks across the country.
However, YCMFN said such claims are biased and one-sided malicious narrations from those who do not wish the nation well.
While admitting the security challenges in the country, the inter-faith group rejected the attempts to attach religious dimension, acknowledging the progress made under President Muhammadu Buhari.
"We consider it most distasteful for anyone to attempt to coin a narrative that 'Christians are actually the target of this murderous group'. Worst of all is the attempt to rope the government of President Buhari into this, or perhaps the attempt to drag the armed forces of Nigeria and sister security agencies into the evil religious narration," Pastor Attah disclosed.
The statement partly reads; " Nigeria no doubt is battling some security challenges that have been ongoing for a while now. What we, however, want to set straight is the fact that the killings going on are largely religion blind. Are there killings that involve Christians? The answer is yes, Christians are certainly murdered in Nigeria, but the fact remains out there that this evil terrorist has killed more Muslims and are in fact killing more Muslims.
"These terrorist are despicable savages that know no one. So long as you don't support their extreme version of Islam, of which many Muslims in Nigeria don't support you are regarded as an enemy and become a target of their killings.
" We know some mischievous elements will want to play the religious card with the ongoing security challenge, we worry less about them, since many of the perpetrators of this narrow and unfortunate narrative do so for their own pecuniary gain.
"We are however concerned about our friends outside the country who may not be well informed about the intrigues and the realities of these security challenges and may want to fall for the one-sided narration of some mischief-makers.
"President Buhari's campaign was anchored on the return of peace to the troubled northeast region and indeed everywhere else in Nigeria. This promised he has been able to fulfil to an extent with the help of the great men and women of the armed forces.
" Before the coming on board of this government almost 14 local government areas were under the total control of the terrorist group less than 18 months in an office all territories hitherto held by the terrorist have been recovered and normalcy returned to most of these areas.
" There cannot be any doubt about the government's sincerity in the battle against insurgents and all other forms of criminality going on in the country. The president has made more funding available for the welfare and procurement of required tools to eliminate the terrorist.
" Whilst we admit the security challenges are not gone. We totally reject the attempt by enemies of the state to bring a religious dimension to the current security challenge because it is totally false and only an attempt to whip up religious sentiments to further divide us and distract us from our focus on taking out the terrorist who are the real enemies of the people.
" In the north-west region of the country where the killings are now most rampant due to activities of bandits and kidnappers, 90% of the victims are Muslims, should we then say they are being killed because they are Muslims? Take Zamfara State for example with one of the highest numbers of deaths in the North West yet over 98% of those killed there are Muslims. So would anyone now say Muslims are being targeted in the north for a genocide?
" Yes, the people killed in Zamfara are Muslims but they were definitely not killed because of their faith. The same way many Christians must have been killed in the many years of these terrorist activities but not all were killed because of their faith.
" Take the middle belt, for example, there have been decades of clashes between herders and farmers over the years, unfortunately except we collectively sit and find long-lasting solutions, peace may remain elusive in that region. There are several reasons for the conflict in that region".
The Youth Christian and Muslim Forum of Nigeria, however, called on " all Muslims and Christians across the country to unite and promote peace and unity amongst ourselves".