The Kaduna State Peace Commission, on Tuesday met for over five hours with officials of the state chapter of Jama’atu Nasril Islam and the 23 local government areas.
Priscilla Ankut, the Executive Vice Chairperson of the commission, said the meeting was part of efforts to articulate ways of ensuring lasting peace in the state.
She noted that the commission has been working with various stakeholders to prevent crisis, adding that such meetings with religious stakeholders would continue in order to find lasting solutions to conflicts in the state.
She noted that with the 2019 elections around the corner, there is need for more enlightenment on the need for peaceful elections.
In his remarks, Director General, Bureau for Interfaith, Namadi Musa, described religious leaders as major stakeholders in peace building
He noted that part of their responsibilities is to preach peace to their followers.
According to him, Nigerians must shun the habit of condemning one another to protect criminals hiding under ethnic and religious umbrellas.
Musa said: “We should not allow politicians to use the method of divide and rule to set up apart for their political gain.”
He also disclosed that Kaduna state government would commence the establishment of six unity schools, two in each zone, as part of strategy to end religious bigotry and enhance unity.
According to him, religion remains one of the most volatile and sensitive cause of crises in the state.
He said: “The issue is that if God wants he would have made all of us Muslims or Christians, or rather make us all Japanese, but he made us with different tribes so that we can understand each other.
“So what government is trying to do to ensure religious harmony is by establishing zonal schools or community schools in the three zones where the schools will constitute people from the 23 local governments.
“So if you are in Kafanchan, you know that you will have your child in Zaria community school, another person will know that they have his own too in Kafanchan.
“We think that when childeren both Christians and Muslims are allowed to grow up together there will be improved peaceful and harmonious coexistence in Kaduna state.”
On disputes over marriage between Christians and Muslims, Namadi said they have been counseling parents to respect the decision of their children.
He said: “There is need to respect one another’s religion, and stakeholders should always ensure that they follow due process in taking certain decisions on sensitive religious issues.”
On his part, the state Secretary of JNI, Malam Ibrahim Kufaina, reiterated the organization’s commitment toward ensuring peaceful coexistence within the state and across the country.
He noted that in a situation of conflict everyone is bound to face the consequences of it, and therefore solicited for more cooperation within the religious bodies for lasting peace in the state.
Hajiya Khadija Hawaja, a Permanent Commissioner with the commission, said: “We engaging communities in conflict area through mediation by monitoring and organizing meetings”.
NAN reports that stakeholders from the 23 LGAs suggests various ways to end communal clashes in the state.
They agreed that more attention should be focused on youth enlightenment towards peace
The JNI urged the commission to look into the farmers/headers issue through proper demarcation of animal routes.
The stakeholders also want the commission to look in to the issue of punishing perpetrators of crisis by ensuring that justice is done
It said: “We want preaching in various places of worship should focus on peace ,fear of God and sincerity ,and also security should also be prompt in managing crisis .
“Politicians should be monitored strickly from influencing people toward crisis for their political gain.”
The stakeholders further advised the commission on the need to set a committee across the 23 LGAs to look into alleged forced conversions and marriages.
It added: “This is becoming another area of concern which has also resulted to crisis in some local government with the state.”
They JNI called for the deployment drugs law enforcement officers to areas where youth engaged in drugs abuse and violent acts.