As violence and killing of Christians rage in the northern states, the Christian Elders Forum of Northern States (NOSCEF) has cried out against what it described as “politicised persecution” of Christians in the north.
In a press statement recently, the forum highlighted a 2014 report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) which acknowledged that some Northern State governments had deliberately denied the issuance of certificates of occupancy to churches and prevented the teaching of Christian Religious Studies in schools alongside Islamic Religious Studies.
According to the statement, the report which also corresponded with the conclusions of the presidential committee on security challenges in the Northeast in 2012, found evidence that the private militias setup by politicians for the 2003 elections later transformed into groups such as Boko Haram.
The statement, which was a save-our-soul notice from the Northern Christians to the Federal Government and Nigerians, demanded that the increasingly politicized persecution of Christians in northern Nigeria must be brought to an end before it takes any further lives.
“While the nation’s current focus is quite rightly on vile criminals such as Boko Haram and the disgusting atrocities they commit, we must and the disgusting atrocities they commit, we must not underestimate how much danger a sectarian conflict across northern Nigeria poses”, it stated.
The statement signed by NOSCEF Chairman, Olaiya Philips, and Secretary Barr. Emmanuel Danjuma Subilim, aligned the forum with a recent statement by All Progressive Congress (APC) on freedom of religion.
It, however, challenged the party and others to support the forum’s call for the release of any outstanding certificates of occupancy for Christian churches, allow the teaching of Christian Religious Studies in schools, as well as introduce schemes to improve the representation of religious minorities in government bodies and access to state-run media.