The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, on Wednesday in Abuja urged religious leaders to maintain neutrality before, during and after the forthcoming general elections.
Mr Abubakar gave the advice at the 2nd General Assembly of the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP), with the theme, ‘‘General Elections and National Security: the Role of Interfaith Communities.”
The Sultan, who is also the President-General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), enjoined religious leaders not to allow themselves to be bought by politicians for their selfish interest.
He stressed the need for spiritual leaders to continue to preach the word of God with honesty and sincerity for the good of humanity and sustainable peace in the country.
“As religious leaders, we should be careful about what we say to our followers in churches and mosque bearing in mind that we will all one day stand before Allah and account for our deeds.
“We should never allow ourselves to be used by any political party or candidate. If you want to support any party or candidates do it personally,“ the Sultan said.
He admonished politicians to be responsive and uphold national interest.
The Sultan also appealed to the security agencies to discharge their responsibilities diligently.
In a paper titled, 2019 General Elections and National Security: the Role of Interfaith Communities, a professor, Sani Lugga, said interfaith communities have a critical role to play in ensuring credible elections.
Mr Lugga said Muslims and Christians had the ultimate duty and responsibility of making Nigeria peaceful and progressive by putting their faith into practice in daily private and public lives.
“Nigerian Muslim and Christian leaders at all levels must take up the challenges of seeing to religious peace, understanding and accommodation.
“This is the most important role that interfaith community in Nigeria can play towards the attainment of peaceful, free, fair and credible 2019 elections,“ Lugga said.
James Igwe, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, urged interfaith leaders to exercise restraint in putting to the public domain, ”persuasively optimistic views in form of prophecies that declare who would win or lose the 2019 elections”.
“Nigerians are yet to cast their votes, yet some religious leaders are seen as biasing the minds of voters and swaying votes from one candidate to the other.
“I urge interfaith leaders to use prophesies to promote peace and love as well as act in manners consistent with tolerance and harmony,“ Mr Igwe said.