In a quest for peaceful co-existence, an International Centre for Interfaith, Peace and Harmony (ICIPH), has popped up its head – to mobilise religious leaders in the 19 northern states to promote peace and harmony among Muslims and Christians in the country.
A Co-coordinator of the Centre, Rev. Venerable Mallam, who made this known at a sideline of stakeholders’ forum in Kaduna at the weekend, described religious leaders as “key in ensuring lasting peace in the country.”
Mallam told newsmen that Christian and Muslim leaders have a crucial role to play in ensuring the needed religious harmony among Christians and Muslims. He said that the religious leaders would be mobilised to create the needed awareness in their various communities on the need for Muslims and Christians to coexist peacefully.
He explained that the effort was part of the Centre’s goal of promoting reconciliation, healing and peaceful coexistence among Nigerians.
“But, we cannot achieve this without fostering interreligious partnership for religious harmony and sensitising communities on peaceful coexistence. We, therefore, need the full participation of religious leaders, who would pull their resources together and use their existing platform to propagate tolerance and peace,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Centre had on Friday held a consultative forum with 40 leaders of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) and Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) from the 19 northern states and Federal Capital Territory, and shared experiences and challenges.
Mallam had explained that the forum was organised to enlist the support of the religious leaders in charting a way forward for the Centre in the task of promoting lasting peace in the country.
Muhammad Mai, one of Co-coordinators of the Centre, said the Centre had so far trained 55 youths as peace ambassadors in Kaduna and Plateau states, to promote peaceful coexistence at the grassroots.
Mai, who enumerated the achievements of the Centre in the past one year, said that the ambassadors were trained from 2016 to date. He said 12 Christians and 12 Muslims were trained in Kaduna state, while 31 from both religions were trained in Plateau.
According to him, the youths, who are always at the centre of crisis in the country, must be involved in the peace building process. “The Centre has also carried out series of sensitisation campaigns in northern part of the country to promote religious tolerance for peace and harmony.
“ICIPH equally empowered 600 men and women in Yobe and Borno states with little amount of money to ease their pains – 200 women in Yobe State and 200 in Borno state each was supported with N10,000, while the 200 men from both states got N5,000 each.
“We equally visited Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Nasarawa, Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states and encouraged the IDPs not to lose hope.”
Also speaking, General Secretary of JNI, Dr. Khalid Aliyu, said that the state branches of the group would facilitate the smooth operation of ICIPH through its organs and officials.
Aliyu, who is also a Co-Secretary for ICIPH, said this could be achieved through JNI interfaith, dialogue and conflict resolution committee set up to promote peaceful coexistence among Muslims and non-Muslims.
On his part, General Secretary of CCN, Dr. Yusuf Wushishi, who doubles as a Co-Secretary for ICIPH, explained that the council was working for the wellbeing of all, irrespective of religious differences, to build peace and interreligious harmony.
The Centre, an initiative of JNI and CCN, with support from World Council of Churches and Bin Talal of Jordan, Prince Ghazi Muhammad, was inaugurated in August, 2016, with head office in Kaduna.
The main goal of the Centre was to contribute to peace through promoting justice and reconciliation between Christians and Muslims, with particular emphasis on northern Nigeria.