THE federal government on Monday, February 6, warned religious leaders against incendiary messages capable of causing religious war in the country.
It also said allegations bordering on Islamisation of Nigeria and persecution of Christians were mere fallacies.
It said conflicts between Muslims and Christians were often fuelled by political motivation, ethnic differences, extremism, intolerance and terrorism.
It said it was ludicrous that some leaders were accusing Nigerian military of arming Fulani herdsmen to kill Christians.
Lai Mohammed, minister of Information and Culture, made the government’s position known in an address at the Town Hall meeting for North-Central in Ilorin.
The session was the eighth in the series of the Town Hall Meetings which was started in Lagos on April 25, 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Mohammed said the government was worried about comments from religious leaders.
The minister said: “Without equivocating, let me say that a lot has been achieved by this administration, despite the challenges that we have faced since assuming office. But whatever has been achieved in all spheres will pale into insignificance if there is no peace in the country.
“And there is no bigger threat to the peace and unity of our country today than religion-coated incendiary messages, which are being carelessly sent out there by some religious, political and opinion leaders.
“In recent times, the media has been increasingly awash with incendiary statements that seem designed to pitch the adherents of the two prominent religions in the country, Christians and Muslims against one another.”
He described as fallacies such insinuations that the government was either out to Islamize Nigeria or persecute Christians.
He added: “Such fallacies like the Islamisation of Nigeria, the killing of Christians by Muslims, the labelling of Nigeria as the most dangerous place for Christians in the world can only serve one purpose: trigger a religious war. Needless to say that no nation ever survives a religious war.
“Those who are making these allegations know that they are not true, but they have found in religion another tool to demonize the government of the day, divert attention from the government’s anti-corruption stance and create undue tension in the polity.
“Make no mistake about it, there have been conflicts between adherents of the two major religions in certain parts of the country. To now extrapolate from that to say Nigeria is the most dangerous place for Christians in the world is a disservice to Nigeria and an overkill.
“What those who are pushing this negative narrative about Nigeria do not know is that if they succeed in giving Nigeria a bad name in the comity of nations, they too will not escape the consequences that will result there from.
“The alleged Islamisation of Nigeria under the current administration is totally false and should be perceived in its entirety as a campaign of calumny.”
— Feb 6, 2017 @ 19:12 GMT