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Ekweremadu urges pilgrims to pray for peaceful polls


• Fayose lauds military’s efforts in conduct of elections • Egba monarch preaches religious tolerance

THE Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has enjoined Christians participating in the 2015 Easter Pilgrimage to Jerusalem to pray for the peaceful conduct of the general elections.

  He also charged them to pray for the total fall of the Boko Haram insurgency while in the holy land.

  Ekweremadu, who spoke at the weekend during the flag-off ceremony of the 2015 Easter pilgrimage to Israel, Greece and Rome at the Akanu IbiamInternational Airport, Enugu, commended the courage of Nigerian military in the ongoing war against the Boko Haram insurgency and terrorism, saying that with God, Nigeria will achieve peaceful elections contrary to the negative predictions in some quarters.

  He said: “I want to ask you to pray for our country, especially for a peaceful, free and fair 2015 general elections and concerning the war against insurgency and terrorism. With your prayers, God will not only grant us peaceful elections, but will have only good men and women elected into offices.

  “Today, our soldiers are doing very well in the onslaught against Boko Haram in the North-East. On behalf of the people of the South-East, I commend their gallantry. But while they are engaged in the physical warfare, I urge you to take the spiritual warfare for the soul of the country and fall of Boko Haram to the holy land.”

  In another development, Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has described the display of professionalism and military discipline by Nigerian soldiers as one of the factors that ensured peaceful conduct of elections and sustenance of the nation’s nascent democracy.

  Fayose, who made this remark through his Deputy, Dr. Kolapo

Olusola while receiving the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 2 Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army, Ibadan, Maj.-Gen. Sanusi Muazu, represented by who was on a tour of the commands and formations under his supervision, said the military had always demonstrated high sense of discipline, patriotism and dedication in the sustenance of democratic governance in Nigeria.

  He also lauded the officers and men of the Nigerian Armed Forces for their efforts at curtailing the spread of insurgency in some parts of the North-East.

  Besides, the Egba monarch, Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo II, has appealed to religious leaders to educate their followers on the need for religious tolerance.

  The monarch, who spoke in Abeokuta yesterday at a pre-conference organised to highlight the activities lined up to mark this year’s “Lisabi Day” celebration, also urged the country’s political leaders to see it as their collective responsibility by ensuring that nothing is done to ignite religious crisis in the country.

   He said: “All of us have the responsibility to promote religious harmony in the general interest of the country.”

  The Deputy President of the Senate has described the departure of the pilgrims from the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, as a dream come true.

  He, therefore, commended President Goodluck Jonathan for upgrading the Enugu Airport to an international status, adding: “As the then Chief of Staff, Government House, Enugu, part of my responsibility then was to co-ordinate pilgrims leaving from Enugu. One evening, I got a call that the vehicle taking our pilgrims to Port Harcourt had an accident and some people died.

  “When years later I found myself in the Senate, one of my visions was to ensure that the people of South-East would not have to travel for pilgrimage from outside Enugu. All of us at the National Assembly and the South-East political leaders continued to pursue it until the late President Musa Yar’Adua sanctioned it and President Jonathan saw to its fruition.”

  The monarch, who said that the main aim of the celebration was to foster unity among his subjects, expressed joy that there had always been a religious harmony in Egbaland.

  Referring to those whose utterances and practices promote religious crisis, Oba Gbadebo said: “The government must ensure that those who make things difficult in a decent society are taken away and kept behind bars.”

  The one-week celebration begins on Monday, March 9 and ends on Sunday, March 15 with a royal banquet.

  Among activities lined up for the celebration are quiz, essay and football competitions among secondary school students in the state.

  Fayose, who eulogised the rank and file of the armed forces for their efficiency in their constitutional role, however appealed to the GOC to check the excesses of some of the military personnel who had been unnecessarily molesting innocent members of the public before such officers smear the image of the military.

  Muazu, who said he was in the state as part of his tour to familiarise himself with the military formations under his supervision, promised that the military would continue to perform its constitutional roles without fear or favour.

  He said his visit would afford him the opportunity to evaluate the facilities on ground at all the military commands and brigades in the seven states which were in his jurisdiction.

  While commending the governor for the warm reception and good remarks, Muazu said the military would continue to work for the sustenance of peace and political stability of the country and would not deviate from its professional roles of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria.

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