By Stephen Adeleye.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Kogi chapters, are collaborating to promote peaceful coexistence, reduce insecurity, crime, criminality and other social devices in the state.
This was made known at a joint security seminar of CAN and JNI as part of their contribution to support the State Government’s efforts in tackling insecurity across the state.
The joint security seminar was organised as part of activities In to mark the first year of the second tenure of Governor Yahaya Bello in office.
In his paper presentation, entitled: ”The Role Of Religious Leaders In Promoting The Fear Of God To Reduce Crime, Criminality And Friction In Our Society”, the state’s Chairman of CAN, Bishop Dr. John Ibenu, said God was interested in our peace and living in peace with one another.
Quoting from the Holy Bible in the book of Hebrews 12:14, he said, ”Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord”.
“The Bible says we should love God and love our neighbours as ourselves. Every time there is a problem and someone is hurt or killed, heaven records it immediately.
“God takes note of all that takes place on the face of the earth and reacts on daily basis,” Ibenu said.
According to him, God places an awesome responsibility on Clerics to make sure the people live in the fear of God. If we all love one another, then crimes and criminality will reduce.
He stressed that the key role of religious leaders at all time was to point the people to God, saying, “we are all equal before God, made by Him and belong to God. Anyone who hurts others, hurts God.”
He, therefore, urged religious leaders to shun sycophancy and flattering, but to warn the people of consequences of sin, the vanity of life and judgement to come.
He stressed that crimes and criminality would reduce in the society by training up our children with proper moral and spiritual upbringing, value eternal things, fear God, forgiveness, promote love, dialogue and constant communication.
He emphasised that the need for religious leaders and the people to partner with government at all levels to reduce insecurity to the barest minimum.
”The government and its organs must promote peace, security, justice, job creation and fairness to all the people,” the Bishop said.
On his part, the state’s Chairman of JNI, Amb. Usman Bello, stressed that the seminar was meant to foster unity and peaceful coexistence irrespective of religious or ethnic diversities, and reduce crimes and criminality in the state.
He commended the governor for his achievements and what he had been doing to ensuring security of lives and property of the people of Kogi State.
He added: ”In my own way, I try as much as possible to promote peaceful coexistence which we also teach our followers”.
Earlier, while declaring the seminar open, Governor Yahaya Bello, expressed his delight to be invited to the auspicious occasion on security of the people and peaceful coexistence in the state.
He commended the religious leaders for bringing the relevant stakeholders together to promote greater interaction for peaceful coexistence.
The governor hailed the collaborative efforts and synergy by all security agencies which had made the state to enjoy relative peace, urging them to keep it up and assured them of his total support.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr (Mrs) Afolashade Ayoade, Bello said that Government had not relented or rested in its efforts to securing lives and property of the people of the state.
He promised to deal decisively by bringing those who attempt to promote unrest in any community in the state to justice.
The governor reiterated that his government had not and would never negotiate with any criminal or offer any amnesty to criminal elements.
He urged all the stakeholders to embrace as it remained critical to the socioeconomic development of the state.
The State Security Adviser, Cdr. Jerry Omodara rtd, said the state government had been doing a lot in ensuring adequate security in the state.
Omodara urged the people to supply adequate and reliable critical information to the security agencies, stressing that government was doing a lot to ensure that Kogi was not turned to center of criminality.
Rev. Barr. J.O Ajewole, who presented a paper entitled: ”The Mind of God Concerning Sanctity of Life”, said ”the human life is sacred, and it is a part of the Almighty God in the mortal man; the human life is the breath of God.
”The place of the sanctity of life is unmistakable by God. In the society where there is no regard for human life, there will be digress to anarchy and social chaos.
Quoting several passages from the Holy Bible Scriptures, Ajewole said that peace remained the cornerstone of Christianity as it is rooted in love and peace, as week as Islamic religion.
”If the two dominant religious in this nation are for peace, then, why is violence in our land?
”There is therefore a need for us as a nation and people to begin to reconsider our ways. The truth is no nation develops in the midst of violence and insecurity. Investors are scared by these indices. Peaceful and congenial atmosphere are non-negotiable conditions for scientific and technological breakthrough.
“These are evidently the crying needs at this stage of our national development Kogi State can become a pace setter in this respect by embracing peaceful co-existence.
“Let us resolve as we depart from this seminar to make Kogi State a safe haven, darling of investors and a model for Nigeria.”
He appealed to government at all levels to generate ideas and promote policies that would encourage peaceful coexistence among the different ethnic groups and people of all religious persuasions.
In his paper presentation entitled: ”Allah’s Injunction Regarding The Sanctity”, Alhaji Usman Tawhid, Chairman, Da’awah Committee JNI, said, ”Allah upholds the sanctity of life as a universal principle and views murder as a heinous crime and major sin punishable in both worlds”.
Quoting from several verses from the Holy Qur’an, Tawhid stressed that anyone that killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or to spread mischief in the land, would be equated to the killing of all mankind.
According to him, Allah did not only warned mankind about the gravity of taking human life unjustly but also provided a measure for punishment.
”We must eschewed all tendencies toward crime and criminality in order to bequeath a better society for all,” Tawhid said.
He, therefore, emphasised the need to understand the factors that lead to growing trend of needless killings in Nigeria, in order to permanently reverse it.
A special prayer session was observed at the seminar to pray for the Governor and Kogi State as a whole.
Other stakeholders at the seminar were: representatives of; traditional rulers, heads of all security agencies in the state, State Security Trust Fund, farmers, herders, among others.