Nigeria

Islamisation: Catholic bishop urges federal government to respect religious freedom

Following allegations of an agenda to islamise Nigeria, the Catholic Bishop of Jalingo Diocese, Dr Charles Hammawa, has called on the federal government to respect the constitutional right and freedom of the people to express their religious beliefs without inhibitions.

The Clergy who spoke in an interview with newsmen in Jalingo said that the freedom of worship is one of the fundamental Human Rights and for a religious country as Nigeria, any attempts to infringe on this right could scale up tensions, breed distrust and lead to a possible breakdown of law and order.

Hammawa said that those nursing the agenda to impose their religious beliefs on others in this century are delusional as such efforts will never yield any positive results.

He stressed that this is an era of persuasion and superior intellectual engagements rather than version and imposition.

“As for the Islamization agenda, obviously, it is not a good thing. We must put our house together. Nigeria is a circular society and the government has a duty to create a conducive atmosphere for all adherents of various beliefs to practice their religion. In this century, one should be able to preach and convince others to follow their religion rather than trying to push it down their throats at all cost. Where will the loyalty come from? What do I gain by forcing someone to accept my philosophy, my ideology and belief system when he or she does not want it? What impact or contributions do you think they can make to the growth of the religion?

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“So for me, it makes no sense that any one is trying to force his religious beliefs on others. And we have people who have sworn to protect our freedom of religion. So why are they now trying to use their executive powers to force us to accept something we don’t want? We must respect religious freedom in this country to avoid an impending catastrophe” the Cleric submitted.

Hammawa who condemned the gruesome murder of Rev. Fr. David Tanko urged the warring communities to sheath their swords and embrace peace, saying that “in the end, there will be no winner as all will have lost a whole lot in terms of persons, property and worse of all, their very humanity”.

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He described the late Fr. Tanko as “an embodiment of humility, intellect, hard work and discipline” and regretted that he will be greatly missed in the diocese.

He further disclosed that the remains of the slain Fr. Tanko will be committed to mother earth on Tuesday at Our Lady of Peace Cathedral, Jalingo, Taraba state.

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