At the public presentation of a book entitled Religion and the Making of Nigeria, in Abuja, yesterday, Nobel Laureate and Professor of Literature, WoleSoyink, Vice-President YemiOsinbajo and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev. Hassan Kukah came to the same conclusion that the state and Federal leadership are abetting the religion-fuelled killings of 800 Nigerians in Southern Kaduna
Soyinka: “Religion in the history of this continent has been a disastrous venture, a disaster in many zones and continues to be even so today. In this very nation in Southern Kaduna, over 800 souls were brutally extinguished suddenly. While the issue of grazing lands versus farming is unquestionably part of the conflict, it is equally undeniable that religious differences have played crucial role in the conflict. And yet some weeks before the latest outrage, the governor of that state was quoted to have claimed that peace was nigh since he had sent funds to the earlier wave of killers and they had agreed to end their killing spree. “What astonished me was not the admission by the governor, but the astonishment of others at such governmental response to atrocity. There was nothing new about it. Has appeasement to religious forces not become a Nigerian face of justice and equity? First, lethargy and then appeasement. Wasn’t Boko Haram’s Muhammed Yusuf a beneficiary of appeasement in a similar fashion? “Southern Kaduna has reminded us once again that the monster is always lying waiting to pounce under the guise of religion. If you ask why General Buhari did not act fast enough when these events take place, which degrade us as human beings, well it is perhaps he has been waiting for the governor of that state to send money to the killers first for them to stop the killing.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo: “Very few people have been prosecuted for religious violence but none has ever been brought to conclusion. Why is it that such cases are never concluded? There are too many cases of high profile murders that are not concluded in this country. National character is very hypocritical. When we are playing football, we all clamour for the best legs because we want to win. We don’t ask how many Muslims or Christians are in the team. When you are sick, nobody asks the religion of the doctor. We only ask about competencies.
“The manipulation of religion by the elites has led to the problem that we are facing. Nigerian elite will use religion when it is convenient and at other times they may use ethnicity or some other form of identification. “It is that frequent use of religion for manipulative tendencies that has led to our predicament. And this is because we always discuss the issues after conflicts where lives are lost and it thus make such discussions emotive.”
Mathew Hassan Kukah: “Unless we get round to defining what constitutes religion and in this particular case, the way and manner in which the northern ruling class continues to use religion as a cover to perpetuate and subjugate the people, the problem will persist. “
We may never prosecute anybody for killing in the name of religion precisely because we have been unable to separate criminality from religion.
“But it has been impossible for us to prosecute anybody because we have a feeling that somehow, people can actually genuinely kill in the name of religion. ..
“Would anybody take over a school built by Muslims in Nigeria and turn it into either St. Thomas or St. Margaret”?