General Yakubu Gowon (rtd.) former military Head of State and Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the National President, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, on Thursday urged Muslim religious, political and traditional leaders to engage members of the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram in dialogue in this Ramadan season.
The leaders made call at the 10th annual luncheon and awards of the Bible Society of Nigeria, BSN, held in Lagos.
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They advised the muslims to engage in a superior ideological dialogue with the sect in order to end the increasing mayhem in the country.
Similarly, Bishop Hassan Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, who also spoke at the luncheon urged the Islamist to embrace peace.
Gowon, who agreed that Nigeria is undergoing a critical period following the repeated killings and bombings perpetuated by the sect reiterated the need for Muslim leaders to engage the sect in a bid to end the unwarranted massacre of innocent people.
The former head of state, however, expressed believe that the current insecurity challenges bedeviling the country would soon pass away just like the Nigerian Civil War.
Gowon went ahead to plead with Nigerians to refrain from attacking President Goodluck Jonathan on his slow response to tackling insurgency, and revealed that several meetings have been held with the president on how to curb the menace.
“We discuss the problems of the country. We are concerned about the security problem in the country. It is not an easy thing to resolve overnight” Gowon said. “People were expecting the Civil War to end in a fortnight, but it did not. No matter how weak the opposi-tion is, it will take sometimes to resolve the problem. I can assure you that I know the President is doing everything possible to end this crisis”.
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Oritsejafor while responding to the award presented to him by BSN at the event said: “if not for God and the gallant efforts of our soldiers fighting the insurgents in the North, Boko Haram would have declared Borno State an Islamic state by now and use that place to launch out to other parts of the country”.
The CAN president added that: “But somehow, they have not been able to do that. That is the annoyance they have because that is what they wanted to do” he said. “I am begging our Muslim traditional rulers, Muslim politicians in the northern part of Nigeria to use the occasion of the current Ramadan, the annual observance regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam, to dialogue with the sect known as Boko Haram”.
Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, was founded in in 2002 by the late Mohammed Yusuf, who was ex-judicially murdered in police custody. The sect which was designated a terrorist group by the US government in 2013, launched its first military operations in 2009 with the aim of creating an Islamic state. The Islamist’s attacks have claimed thousands of lives as well as the destruction of properties worth billions of naira.