By Sumaila Ogbaje
A civil society advocacy group, Citizens Initiative for Security Awareness (CISA), has urged religious leaders and all well-meaning Nigerians to desist from escalating the already tensed security situation in the country.
The Assistant Coordinator (North) of CICA, Mr Kabeer Salami, made the call, while briefing newsmen on Friday in Abuja.
Salami said the group had observed that some unpatriotic Nigerians were bent on polarising the country and incite Nigerians against their fellow citizens for no good reasons, through unsubstantiated allegations.
He said that such individuals used religion, regions, tribe and other sectional rhetoric consciously or unconsciously towards unwarranted ethno-religious conflicts.
According to him, just a few days ago, a media report ‘baselessly’ alleged that an influential Northern Senator is closely being watched by security agencies in the country for reportedly spearheading terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.
He said the said report alleged that the lawmaker had been identified as one of the sponsors and financiers of banditry and other terror-related activities in the North.
Salami said that the security services, which the report claimed were monitoring the unidentified senator, swiftly and vehemently contradicted the story.
“They told a credible medium that the published report was somewhat ‘concocted’ to pitch legislators especially Senators from the North against the entire Nigerian masses.
“The hatchet job of the “mischievous fake news peddlers,” according to the report is also aimed at pitching the nation’s security services against one another.
“A preliminary investigation revealed that a retired security officer from the middle Belt who is still in the service, having been retained, was alleged to be the chief mastermind of the fabricated report of pitching some group of people against Nigerians.
“As a pan-Nigerian advocacy group, to say that we are horrified over the sharing of ‘fallacious’ and divisive stories as this period of our national life, without painstaking verification, is an understatement.
“The outright denial by some top security and intelligence officers of them closely watching a Senator for hobnobbing with terrorists and banditry was convincing for many Nigerians,” he said.
The group’s leader said some groups and religious leaders had relied on the ‘fake news’ had called on the presidency and the senate to expose the unnamed serving senator.
According to him, while their demand sounds suspicious, it was the height of unpatriotic for them to have an utter contempt for the expertise, capacity and professionalism of our security services.
He said CISA was worried about the antics of some groups deploying subterfuge, in cahoots with some disgruntled elements, to set the country on fire, by stocking the embers of ethnic and religious sentiments.
“As a patriotic organisation, we wish to advise the presidency, the Senate, security services and indeed all well-meaning Nigerians not to succumb to the antics of the groups that promote fake news and hate speech.
“It merely blind the mind, reinforce sentiments, divide and plunge the society into chaos; influence bad judgment that trigger extremism and induce mob attacks.
“We urge Nigerian leadership not to allow any group engaging in frivolities to distract them from attending to essential legislative and national matters.
“We also call on security agencies to arrest and prosecute any group attempting to defame other Nigerians for ulterior motives as that could lead to ethno-religious crises,” he added.
Salami said that Nigeria’s multiple challenges where as a result of deploying religious or ethnic sentiment to critical issues or events that affect our national unity and progress.
According to him, if we must navigate this hard time, every citizen must unconditionally resolve to love one another, to quickly rebuild our fractured Nigeria, and make it a strong, indivisible entity.
He added that citizens, also, must shun fraternizing with ethnic champions and pseudo religious leaders, bent on polarising the nation. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Isaac Aregbesola