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Islamic groups set agenda for religious leaders over youth demands

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The Companion, an association of Muslim Men in Business and the Professions, has called on the leaders of both Islam and Christianity in the country, particularly the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), to work together and provide the much-needed intervention in the national crisis.

Also, The Criterion, an association of women in business and professions, has called for a thorough investigation of the attack on unarmed protesters and urged the Federal Government to identify the perpetrators and bring them to book.

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The National Amir (President), The Companion, Alhaj Thabit Wale Sonaike, expressed the association’s concern that what started as a peaceful protest against alleged brutality by a unit of the Nigeria Police, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), was eventually infiltrated and hijacked by elements whose motive is clearly at variance with the original intention of the protesters.

He said the most worrisome confirmation is the glaring trust deficit between the government and the citizenry.

“Despite the various commendable initiatives of some governors, including Governor Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, to address some of the items in the list of the demands of the protesters with dispatch, and the pronouncement of the federal authorities disbanding SARS, the protesting youth and indeed generality of Nigerians remain skeptical of government’s commitment to the implementation of the announced policy reform in particular and their welfare in general.”

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In view of the cynicism and obvious lack of trust between the government and the people, the group calls on the leadership of both NSCIA and CAN to come together and build a broad coalition that would serve as a trustworthy bridge and peacemakers at this critical time.

“The leadership of the two religions still enjoy, to a large extent, the trust of their respective adherents, at least much more than the country’s political leadership at various levels do. And the two religions share a number of things in common, including a commitment to an environment that fosters peace, harmony, and development in the society, and there cannot be a better time to demonstrate this than at this time. It is only in an atmosphere of peace and development that faith can be established and nourished,” he stated.

Sonaike added that this is the time for all the political parties in the country to move beyond sloganeering and mere pious declarations of love of the nation and for the people by coming together to jointly and sincerely seek solutions to the challenges confronting the nation.

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He commiserated with those who have lost their loved ones and properties and the injured.

“We join others in calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to heed the calls to provide leadership that strengthens the confidence of the people in government, demonstrates empathy, and be a source of hope and a soothing balm to the many frayed nerves in the country. This will go a long way in creating an environment for normalcy to gradually return,” he stated.

Meanwhile, The Criterion, in a statement issued by its International Amirah, Hajia Fatymah Oyefeso, also called for a thorough investigation of the attack and urged the Federal Government to identify the perpetrators and bring them to book.

She said: “This will in no small measure douse the tension of the protesters and the family of the victims. The Federal Government should constitute a judicial probe panel to investigate the incident, bring the perpetrators to book, and see that justice is served appropriately.

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“What began as a peaceful protest seems to have been hijacked by hoodlums, resulting in loss of lives and wanton destruction of properties.

“The Criterion is particularly concerned because, in times of war and civil unrest, women and children are always at the receiving end.”

Oyefeso called for a thorough investigation into the barbaric act of shooting at Lekki tollgate and other parts of the country in a view to bringing the perpetrators to book.

“We wish to sympathize with all the victims of the protest and those who may have suffered any loss and untold hardship during the protest and the avoidable violence that followed. We call on our resilient youth to remain calm and return home while the government is carrying out the investigation. We pray that Almighty Allah restores peace and harmony in the land. Long lives our dear country Nigeria,” she said.

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