The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Afenifere and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have urged the Department of State Services (DSS) to go after those it alleged were plotting to incite religious violence in some states.
The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) also condemned the alleged plot, stressing that it has always been in the forefront of the advocacy for peaceful coexistence among Nigerians, especially Christians and Muslims.
However, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) accused the DSS of raising unnecessary alarm, warning that the nation’s worsening security situation should not be given religious colouration.
They spoke against the backdrop of a statement earlier yesterday by the DSS in which it alleged that there was a plot to incite religious violence in Sokoto, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Rivers, Oyo, Lagos and some states in the South-east.
The statement by Head, Public Relations Officer, DSS, Dr. Peter Afunanya, also warned that some worship centres and religious leaders may be attacked.
It accused some people of working with external forces to incite religious violence in the country.
“Part of the plans is to cause inter-religious conflicts as well as use their foot soldiers to attack some worship centres, religious leaders, personalities, key and vulnerable points.
“Consequently, Nigerians are advised to be wary of these antics and shun all divisive tendencies aimed at inciting or setting them against one another.
“While the service pledges to collaborate with sister agencies to ensure that public order is maintained, those hatching these plots are warned to desist from such in the interest of peace, security and development of the country,” it added.
But reacting to the allegations, the ACF urged the secret police to act swiftly by arresting and prosecuting those behind the “satanic plans.”
The spokesman of the forum, Mr. Emmanuel Yawe, told THISDAY that Nigeria already has too many problems and urged the secret police to abort the plan before it is too late.
“Since the DSS is claiming they are aware of the plan, we expect them to act swiftly and arrest and prosecute the people behind the satanic plans.
“Nigeria already has too many problems. They should help the country and abort this one before it is too late,” Yawe said.
The CAN also asked the DSS to arrest those behind the alleged plot.
It urged it not to create fear among the people in the guise of security alert.
CAN’s General Secretary, Rev. Joseph Daramola, told THISDAY that “though we welcome the security alert as a means of informing the public of dangers that lies ahead, we still maintain that DSS should move to arrest those behind the plot.
” If they have uncovered such plot, why can’t they report those behind the plan to the police to prosecute them? If they have such a dangerous information, they should be able to nab those behind it. They have capacity to effect their arrest. For instance, if they get information about plan for a demonstration at the National Assembly, would they not move swiftly to fortify the place? If they have uncovered plot to organise riot and attack religious leaders, they should have spread their dragnet to arrest these people, they shouldn’t have issued a statement,” he said.
Also the Vice Chairman of the Northern CAN and Chairman of Kaduna State chapter of the association, Rev. John Hayab, told THISDAY that such an alarm will only further create panic among the people already traumatised by insecurity.
“It has become a weekly or monthly practice for our dear security agency to make statements that only help to create fear and pave the way for evil people to cause citizens harm.
“If you truly have security report about anyone or any group trying to instigate violence, just do to them what the law says but coming out to create panic every time is not good for the people who are already living in self-pity and have lost hope due to the high level of insecurity in the nation.
“Sometimes these statements are seen as a strategy to stop people from expressing their views. “Whenever a strong view has been made and others are saying theirs too that is when you will hear security alert.
“As a leader of the church in Kaduna State, I know my people have been attacked, killed and have their homes and places of worship destroyed or vandalised when there was no quarrel between them and anyone. And in all these pains, security agencies did not show serious concern or go after the arsonist or criminals.
“We therefore do not understand why they should be making statements that will only create panic when no arrest has been made and no good steps is taken to show or teach law breakers lessons.
“We want our security agencies to just go after those planning evil against Nigeria if they have any credible intelligence about their evil intention.
“Coming out always to make statements that will only create more fear in the minds of citizens at a time they are already in fear at home, on the road and everywhere in the country is not a good way to secure us,” he said.
Also reacting, the pan Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, cautioned the DSS against raising unnecessary security alarm.
Rather, it urged all security agencies to investigate the allegations.
Its spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, told THISDAY that “the security forces should get to the root of this and go after the perpetrators instead of raising unnecessary alarm like part of the pathetic public.”
They also condemned the alleged plot, saying that it has always been in the forefront when it comes to advocacy for peaceful coexistence among Nigerians, especially Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.
“Therefore, council is totally against any plot by yet-to-be identified faceless individuals aimed at fomenting religious trouble in some states of the federation.
“We hereby align our views with the views of the DSS in calling on Nigerians to be vigilant. We equally call on those intending to incite religious violence to have a rethink for the sake of our collective existence,” the NSCIA spokesperson, Aselimi Ibrahim, said in a statement made available to THISDAY.
On its part,the PANDEF accused the DSS of raising unnecessary alarm, warning that the nation’s worsening security situation should not be given religious colouration.
The group described the alarm as unnecessary as it is capable of exacerbating anxiety and apprehension in the country.
Its spokesman, Hon. Ken Robinson, told THISDAY that the security agency should not attempt to give the country’s worsening state of insecurity a religious tag.
He said: “Criminals, bandits and terrorists have continued to perpetrate violent and horrible crimes against innocent citizens across the country. These undesirable elements have been emboldened by the inefficiency, and in some cases, the inactions of the government and security agencies.
“While the nation continues to talk about the awful situation in the North-east, North-west and even parts of North-central, the waterways in parts of the Niger Delta region are also, increasingly, becoming unsafe for travel, local business and tourism.
“The nation’s security architecture is apparently overwhelmed. Nigerians expect Mr. President to effect a complete overhaul of the nation’s security structure, starting with the replacement of the service chiefs. Instead, unfortunately, the latest from the presidency is that President Muhammadu Buhari sees what Nigerians do not see in the underperforming service chiefs.”