The Lagos Chapter of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria has criticised the Christmas message by the Bishop of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Matthew Kukah and a recent statement by a pan-Yoruba nation activist, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, asking Fulani herdsmen to leave an area in Oyo State.
In a press release signed by its President, Miftahudeen Thanni, on Monday, the group called on the Nigerian government to caution those causing discord in the country.
Bishop Matthew Kukah had said in his Christmas message that the country would have experienced a coup d’état had President Muhammadu Buhari not been a northern Muslim, while enumerating the challenges of the country, including nepotism in government and terrorism.
Also, Sunday Igboho gave Fulani herdsmen a seven-day ultimatum to leave Ibarapa area in Oyo State due to the upsurge in cases of killing, rape, kidnapping and other criminal activities believed to perpetrated by the killer Fulani herders.
In the statement, Thanni described Kukah’s statement as arrogant and said Igboho was not in any position to issue such a quit notice.
"No responsible government should allow lawlessness to reign. The activities of non-state actors in recent times are worrisome and must be quickly nipped in the bud by the federal and state governments,” Thanni said.
"For no reason should the government allow anybody to see him or herself as being above the law, especially those fanning the embers of disunity through words or action.
"It all started with Bishop Kukah's arrogant New Year message capable of inciting the people of the state against the government and preaching religious hatred, a thing that should have attracted a harsh sanction from the Federal Government.
"And down to the South, Sunday Igboho unilaterally issued a quit notice to some Fulani over alleged banditry and kidnapping despite not being a state actor. In their reactions to this development, prominent groups and famous personalities threatened war.”
The MSSN, however, called for peace and unity in the country, stating that the ugly experience of the Ife-Modakeke tribal war in the 1990s, and a glimpse of the chaos that accompanied #EndSARS protests across the country were enough reasons to caution those allegedly causing tension.
"This resulted in tension and panic in the region. Though the majority of us did not witness the civil war, the memories of the Modakeke crisis and the violence that followed the EndSARS crisis can't be forgotten. We want peace. Peace is sacrosanct. The full weight of the law should take its course on people who attempt to disrupt peace in the nation.
"Without doubt, an ethnic crisis is brewing in the country and an urgent intervention needs to be made. According to psychologists, people are more sympathetic and emotionally attached to their tribes and could do anything to defend them."
Miftahudeen, who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his efforts to curtail insecurity in the country and encourage farmers, advised him to protect the country against disunity.
"We are aware of the grievances of many in the South-West against the activities of criminals and bandits. We appeal that a particular tribe should not be tagged and attacked. Instead, we should join hands with the government to fight crime collectively.
"Islam encourages peace and we want peace. All Nigerians should see ourselves as one regardless of tribe or profession. The unity of this country is paramount than ethnic bias. Both Fulani and Yoruba are Nigerians and we must see ourselves as one.
"We strongly appeal to the state governments concerned and our dear President to quickly swing into action and do the needful by arresting the situation headlong, thereby ensuring peaceful coexistence and forestall a further breakdown of law and order. Apart from the fact that some people are profiting from this insecurity, the media should avoid sensational headlines capable of misleading the general populace into crisis.”