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Nigerian Group Calls for Conference on Country’s Future

  • James Butty

A car burns at the scene of a bomb explosion at St. Theresa Catholic Church at Madalla, Suleja, just outside Nigeria's capital Abuja. Five bombs exploded on Christmas Day at churches in Nigeria, one killing at least 27 people, raising fears that Islamist

A car burns at the scene of a bomb explosion at St. Theresa Catholic Church at Madalla, Suleja, just outside Nigeria's capital Abuja. Five bombs exploded on Christmas Day at churches in Nigeria, one killing at least 27 people, raising fears that Islamist

Anslem John-Miller of the Council of Ogoni Professionals says the conference will discuss Boko Haram and Nigeria's continued existence

Nigerians continue to express their repugnance at Sunday’s Christmas Day bombings of Christian churches which killed at least 39 people.

The Council of Ogoni Professionals in the United States is calling on President Goodluck Jonathan and the Nigerian National Assembly to convene a sovereign national conference immediately to discuss what they call Nigeria’s existence.

Anslem John-Miller, a member of the Council of Ogoni Professionals, says among other issues to be discussed will be the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for Sunday’s bombings, and Nigeria’s continued membership in the Organization of Islamic Countries.

“It is clear that the insecurity problem occasioned by the bombings indicate that Nigeria is actually slipping into anarchy if that problem is not addressed,” he said.

John-Miller says there is no way that Nigeria, a multi-religious country, can be a member of the Organization of Islamic Countries.

“Boko Haram is saying that they want to Islamize Nigeria, and Nigeria is a plural state where you have religion in terms of Islam and Christianity, and you also have traditional African religions. So, how can you make a country where you have several religions, or at least two dominant religions, an Islamic state?” John Miller said.

He said Boko Haram’s spate of violence coupled with the attempt by some Nigerian states to impose Sharia Law have their roots in the decision by the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida to make Nigeria a member of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC).

John-Miller says Nigeria should deregister from the OIC.

“Boko Haram is not just doing it for doing sake because Nigerian leaders have refused to address the major concern, and that is the fact that Nigeria is a member of Organization of Islamic Countries, a unilateral decision that was taken by Ibrahim Babangida during his tenure as head of state of Nigeria. Nigeria remains a member of that organization and that is wrong. Nigeria needs to de-register from that organization,” John-Miller said.

He also said Boko Haram’s campaign of violence is against the government of Christian President Goodluck Jonathan.

“This thing did not happen during the administration of [the late President Umaru] Yar’ Adua. It didn’t happen in the past. Why are they doing it now? This thing is politically motivated,” he said.

John-Miller criticized politicians in northern Nigeria for not openly condemning the Boko Haram violence.

He said Jonathan’s government needs to be forceful in dealing with Boko Haram.

“I think the government has been dealing with Boko Haram with kid gloves, and it is high time they declare these guys as terrorists. This is a terrorist organization and I am going to be appealing to the U.S. State Department to declare Nigeria as a country that is sponsoring terrorism,” John-miller said.

John-Miller said Jonathan’s decision earlier this year to cancel elaborate 51st Independence Day festivities because of a threat from Boko Haram is an indication that the government is not ready to take on the Islamic sect.

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