By Takim Etta
Insecurity in Nigeria is often perpetrated within grounds by religious extremists who dwell in our mosques, churches, and shrines. They forget that humanity is the primary and best religion. They carry out their crimes against humanity under the pretext that they are fighting for God. This poses a significant hindrance to the political, economic, and overall development of Nigeria.
This article serves as a strong call to all religious leaders in Nigeria to incorporate a new verse into the tenets of various religious beliefs, emphasizing that no belief or religion exists without humans. Therefore, humanity is the best religion. The successful implementation of this new belief would contribute to the reduction of insecurity in the country.
Religion and Insurgence in Nigeria
According to Oxford Advanced Dictionary Religion is the belief in and worship of a superhuman power or powers, especially a God or gods. For Britannica Religion is a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices. Religion encompasses a spectrum of social activities. Practices associated with religious beliefs may involve various rituals. It is estimated that there are around 10,000 different religions globally.
Nigeria has three popular religions; however, no religion is recognized as a state religion under Nigerian law. The constitution explicitly states that no religion should be acknowledged as a state religion. Nevertheless, Islamic and Christian religions have managed to infiltrate various legislations under Nigerian law, further dividing the country along two religious lines.
Members of these two popular religions have been engaged in a serious struggle for superiority and dominance in Nigeria for over 75 years. This ongoing conflict has resulted in religious tensions and insecurity in the country. As a consequence of this struggle, churches and mosques selectively pick and interpret verses from the Bible and the Quran to align with their purposes and objectives.
For instance, Muslim extremists in Nigeria hold the misleading belief that killing for the sake of religion will grant them eternal life in heaven with seventy virgins. On the other hand, Christians defend themselves with the belief that they should go into the world and have dominion over all. These verses, among others, have significantly contributed to religious conflicts in Nigeria, resulting in numerous deaths and becoming a major source of insecurity in the country.
Religious conflicts in Nigeria emerge when adherents of a particular faith adopt extreme measures and attempt to enforce their religious convictions upon individuals practicing different religions. This has been the scenario in Nigeria. Deborah Samuel, a student at the Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, was tragically lynched by her fellow students on May 21, 2022, reportedly over accusations of blasphemy.
As per a Premier Christian News report, a single Catholic diocese in Nigeria has experienced the destruction of 185 churches and the displacement of nearly 200,000 individuals within the last two months. As reported by Outlook on June 7, 2022, a tragic incident unfolded in Nigeria, where gunmen attacked St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo town. At least 50 people lost their lives as the assailants opened fire on worshippers and detonated explosives within the church before fleeing the scene.
As indicated in a Premium Times article dated March 31, 2014, in Katsina State, Nigeria, protesting youth set fire to two churches in Tudun Wada, Funtua Local Government Area during the afternoon. According to Vatican News on April 17, 2023, over 50,000 Christians were killed in Nigeria by Islamist extremists. Since 2009, a total of 52,250 Nigerian Christians have been murdered, and 18,000 churches have been set on fire. The perpetrators include the militant groups Boko Haram and Fulani Muslim herders.
As reported by Africanews on January 16, 2023, gunmen carried out two separate attacks in central and northwestern Nigeria, resulting in the killing of a Catholic priest and the abduction of five worshippers. World Watch Monitor on December 6, 2012, there were reports of a tragic incident in Nigeria where 10 people were killed, and four churches were set ablaze. The information was conveyed through a message stating, “I have just received a message from my people at Chibok and Gamboru Ngala that four of our churches were attacked by the militants this morning. This and other numerous incidents have occurred for over 75 years in Nigeria and continue to increase insecurity in Nigeria.
on the Other hand According to a report from The Guardian Nigeria News on November 3, 2020, they attacked two mosques in Nsukka, Enugu State on Saturday, October 31, 2020, and set them ablaze. According to a report by VOA on October 31, 2009, Christians in Anambra, Nigeria, went on a rampage and burned two mosques in retaliation for Muslim protests the previous weekend, during which dozens of people died.
Religion is the strongest moral foundation for every society. This is because the followership of believers is hinged on the power of divinity and the spiritual capabilities of the entities. With this strong commanding force, coupled with the level of education in Nigeria, worshipers are swayed into believing anything by their religious leaders without any critical examination. Religious leaders are enjoined to add to their Bible and Quranic verses this special line.
”Humanity is the best practice, and human life is the essence of religion. No one should kill another for any religious belief, and respect should be the hallmark of all religions.”
Religious leaders are enjoined to preach love, humanity, religious tolerance, and harmonious coexistence among various religious beliefs. Nobody should take the life of others for any reason, not even on religious grounds. The Government of Nigeria, on its part, is accused of being religiously biased by mixing politics and religion in dealing with the arrest and prosecution of those involved in perpetrating evil under the guise of religion.
An example is the case of Deborah, as mentioned above. Let it be on record that, after the poor innocent girl was lynched by her peers, nobody has been arrested or prosecuted for the crime up to this date. This attitude of the government has impacted the level of our development, as even prominent Nigerian politicians support such actions. The government is called to take action. The spirit of nationality should be at the forefront; we are Nigerians first before becoming Christians or Muslims, and our Nigerian laws supersede our religious laws.
The hallmark of religious belief is to build good morals in society. Any practice that advocates taking another person’s life is not a religion but an evil organization. Religious leaders should promote humanity as the hallmark of all religions. Let love, peace, and tolerance be the guiding lights in Nigeria for harmonious coexistence to reduce insecurity in Nigeria.