ABUJA - Nigeria's highest Muslim body has declared Friday, January 27, a national day of prayers in Africa's most populous nation to denounce attacks by the radical group Boko Haram.
The scourge of violence as perpetrated by Boko Haram has become dreadful and frightening and seemingly uncontrollable, the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) said in a statement obtained by OnIslam.net.
The need has obviously arisen to seek divine intervention.
NSCIA hereby calls on all Muslims to offer special prayers to Allah in mosques throughout the Federation on Friday January27, praying to Allah to ward off Boko Haram menace from the land and any other threat to National Security.
Boko Haram, a radical Islamist group, has escalated attacks in Nigeria in recent weeks.
In the deadliest attacks in years, more than 150 people were killed last week in coordinated attacks by the radical group in the northern city of Kano.
Nigerian Muslims have strongly condemned the assaults as running counter to the Islamic teachings.
It is necessary to reiterate emphatically that the claims of the killer group that they are acting in the interests of Muslims and Islam are patently false, said the NSCIA, chaired by Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Abuakar Sa'ad.
Boko Haram, which was formed in Maiduguri in 2002, has killed hundreds of people in the last year, mostly in and around its home state of Borno, though its attacks have been spreading across the north of Africa's most populous nation.
Boko Haram, a Hausa term meaning "Western education is sinful", is loosely modeled on Afghanistan's Taliban.
The group originally said it wanted Shari`ah to be applied more widely across Nigeria but its aims appear to have changed.
The sect focuses its attacks mostly on the police, military and government, but has attacked Christians more recently.
It says it is fighting enemies who have wronged its members through violence, arrests or economic neglect and corruption.
The Muslim body urged the government to reach out to moderate members of the Boko Haram group.
The moderate ones among them should be encouraged to engage in a round-table dialogue with the representatives of the Federal Government who will listen to their grievances and recommend those that can be accepted as the Constitution and the law may permit.
Those hardline Boko Haram elements who are bent on pursuing violent agenda should be sought out and dealt with according to the law.
The NSCIA urged the government to tackle the root causes of the current cycle of violence in the country.
As a matter of urgency, Government should address the pandemic poverty in the land, pursuing more convincingly poverty alleviation and eradication.
Youth employment should also be tackled so as to arrest restiveness that turns them into thugs and area boys'. The time is also long overdue to introduce Social Security System into the country.
The leading Muslim group warned that the widespread corruption in the country gives ammunition to radicals to recruit supporters to their ideology.
Corruption fuels rebellion. Government should therefore be more combative in its war against corruption, the NSCIA said.
Since corruption is more rampant among political office holders including legislators, public servants, as well as the elites, actions should proceed against them without delay. There should be no sacred cows.
Nigeria, one of the world's most religiously committed nations, is divided between a Muslim north and a Christian south.
Muslims and Christians, who constitute 55 and 40 percent of Nigeria's 140 million population respectively, have lived in peace for the most part.But ethnic and religious tensions have bubbled for years, fuelled by decades of resentment between indigenous groups, mostly Christian or animist, who are vying for control of fertile farmlands with migrants and settlers from the Hausa-speaking Muslim north.