Press "Enter" to skip to content

Nigeria and religious intolerance

Not many people in Nigeria today would dispute the fact that religious intolerance is steadily on the rise. Before now, intolerance of other’s religious views had never been so contentious and divisive, even when many Nigerians remain closet fundamentalists and ethnic zealots.  Our concern at this alarming phenomenon is informed by the recent extrajudicial murder of a 75-year-old woman, Mrs Bridget Agbaheme, a Christian and trader at Kofar Wambai market, in Kano, who was beaten to death by irate youths after accusing her of blasphemy.
Before Nigerians could comprehend the motive behind such barbarity, another Christian and carpenter at Kakuri area of Kaduna metropolis, Mr. Emmanuel Francis was mobbed and stabbed severally by some Muslim youths for failing to observe the Ramadan fast. Luckily, Mr. Francis survived to narrate his ordeal.  Definitely, such primitive acts do not present Nigeria in positive light before the international community. There is no denying the fact that many people now see the country as hostage to religious extremism. Even when those responsible for these dastardly acts are facing prosecution, we believe the authorities should do more to rein in the activities of persons preaching hate and intolerance in the name of religion.
Without doubt, any action short of stopping the evil of religious zealotry would spell doom for the country. We all know that religious intolerance is the inability of adherents of a particular religion to acknowledge, accommodate and accept the right of others to live by another faith different from theirs.  However, such an attitude is connected to the conviction that one’s religion is the only divinely ordained path to spiritual enlightenment and paradise.
For the avoidance of doubt, Section 38 (1) of Nigeria’s 1999 constitution and Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right, state that: “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.”         Furthermore, Section 10 of the same constitution provides thus: “the Government of the Federation or of a state shall not adopt any religion as state religion”. It therefore bears restating that the constitution guarantees freedom of worship and no one should be victimised for their beliefs.
Nigeria should learn from the misfortunes of countries that have been wracked by religious bigotry. Today, most of the world’s major conflicts are a result of religious intolerance that has been left to fester into uncontrollable spiral of violence. Incidentally, the two victims of the Kano and Kaduna madness are Christians. However, it would be unreasonable to inflame matching animosity against Muslims, especially in Christian dominated areas.
For Nigeria to survive and her citizens live in peace with one another, the government and religious leaders must as statutory obligation lead the way in the efforts to enthrone religious and ethnic tolerance in the country. They should also teach and preach tolerance in word and in deed.
We must restate for the umpteenth time that religious belief is fundamental to many human identities. Therefore, freedom of faith must be defended at all cost, even when those in authority are not convenient with it.

(Visited 16 times, 1 visits today)

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: