President Muhammadu Buhari has said that 90 percent of Boko Haram victims are Muslims. This is contrary to views that the group is primarily targeting Christians.
The President appealed to Nigerians, especially religious leaders, not to allow terrorists achieve their sole purpose of escalating religious disharmony in the country.
Buhari, who made the appeal in a newspaper opinion, which was published in a Christian news outlet, Christianity Today, also observed that contrary to the narrative already being spread that the Boko Haram terror attacks are targeting Christians, about 90 percent of the terror group’s victims have been Muslims.
The President, who lamented the recent slaughtering of Rev Lawan Andimi, who was until his capture and killing by Boko Haram terrorists the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Adamawa State, noted that part of the plans of the terrorists is to set Nigerians against each other, along religious lines.
The President, in the piece he titled ‘Buhari: Pastor Andimi’s faith should inspire all Nigerians’, charged all Nigerians, across all religious beliefs, to learn from the selflessness.
The President however vowed that his administration would not relent its efforts to free the country of all elements of religious disharmony, adding that there is no part of the country that is free for such elements to hold sway.
According to the President: “we may not, yet, be completely winning the battle for the truth. Christianity in Nigeria is not—as some seem intent on believing—contracting under pressure, but expanding and growing in numbers approaching half of our population today.
“Nor is it the case that Boko Haram is primarily targeting Christians: not all of the Chibok schoolgirls were Christians; some were Muslims, and were so at the point at which they were taken by the terrorists. Indeed, it is the reality that some 90 per cent of all Boko Haram’s victims have been Muslims: they include a copycat abduction of over 100 Muslim schoolgirls, along with their single Christian classmate; shootings inside mosques; and the murder of two prominent imams.
“Perhaps it makes for a better story should these truths, and more, be ignored in the telling. It is a simple fact that these now-failing terrorists have targeted the vulnerable, the religious, the non-religious, the young, and the old without discrimination.
“And at this point, when they are fractured, we cannot allow them to divide good Christians and good Muslims from those things that bind us all in the sight of God: faith, family, forgiveness, fidelity, and friendship to each other.
“Yet sadly, there is a tiny, if vocal, minority of religious leaders—both Muslim and Christian—who appear more than prepared to take their bait and blame the opposite religious side. The terrorists’ today attempt to build invisible walls between us. They have failed in their territorial ambitions, so now instead they seek to divide our state of mind, by prying us from one from another—to set one religion seemingly implacably against the other.
“Translated into English, Boko Haram means “Western teachings are sinful.” They claim as “proof” passages of the Quran which state that Muslims should fight “pagans” to be justification for attacks on Christians and those Muslims who hold no truck with them. They are debased by their willful misreading of scripture—at least those of them who are able to read at all.
“Of course, there is much of Christianity and Islam—both in teaching and practice—that are not the same. Were that not so, there would be no need for the separateness of the two religions. Yet though these unread terrorists seem not to know it, there is much between our two faiths—both the word and the scripture—that run in parallel.
“I call on Nigeria’s faith leaders, and Nigerians everywhere, to take these words of concord—and the many more that exist—to their hearts and their deeds. Just as my government, and our international partners, quicken our campaign to defeat Boko Haram within and without our borders, we must turn our minds to the future.
“There is no place in Nigeria for those who seek to divide us by religion, who compel others to change their faith forcibly, or try to convince others that by so doing, they are doing good.
Rather, we might all learn from the faith and works of Pastor Andimi.
“There seems little doubt he acted selflessly in so many regards—giving alms and prayers to both Christians and Muslims who suffered at the hands of the terrorists. And he passed from us, rightly refusing to renounce his faith that was not for his captors to take, any more than his life. His belief and his deeds are a lesson and an inspiration to all of us,” he said.