President Muhammadu Buhari has confirmed Nigeria’s membership of the Islamic Coalition Against Terrorism, being spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, amidst speculations of the alleged plan to islamise the country.
The President made the disclosure in an interview he granted Al-Jazeera during his recent visit to Doha, Qatar, while the interview was aired on Saturday.
When asked whether Nigeria was part of the Islamic coalition, Buhari answered in the affirmative.
He attributed the reason behind the decision to the fact that there are terrorists in Nigeria who claim to be Muslims.
“We are part of it (the Islamic coalition) because we’ve got terrorists in Nigeria that everybody knows which claim that they are Islamic.
“So, if there is an Islamic coalition to fight terrorism, Nigeria will be part of it because we are casualties of Islamic terrorism,” the President said.
Buhari said he discussed Nigeria’s membership of the coalition with King Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz during their meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, when he visited the country recently.
He however did not disclose how the membership of the Islamic coalition would be beneficial to Nigeria, when asked to do so.
He said it would be wrong to disclose the details to the media.
“Well, that we mentioned under the Lake Chad Basin Commission, our regional grouping compromising Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Benin and we dedicated a certain number of troops to be deployed in our own sub-region and I don’t think we have to tell the press the details of that,” he simply said.
Buhari however justified Nigeria’s membership of the Islamic coalition, saying there is nothing wrong in joining the coalition since members of the Boko Haram sect fighting in Nigeria have claimed they are Muslims, even when their activities are anti-Islam.
He added that the Boko Haram itself had declared loyalty to ISIS
He said, “I’ve just told you; it was the Boko Haram itself that declared loyalty to ISIS.
“ISIS is basically based in Islamic countries. Now, if there’s a coalition to fight Islamic terrorism, why can’t Nigeria be part of it while those that are fighting in Nigeria as Boko Haram claim to be Muslims? But the way they are doing, it is anti-Islamic.”
When confronted with the fact that Nigeria has large populations of both Muslims and Christians and that some Christians are complaining that he is giving Islamic identity to the country by his actions, Buhari wondered why the Christians who are complaining have not deemed it fit to confront members of the Boko Haram in the North-East or militants in the South.
“Why can’t those Christians that complained go and fight terrorism in Nigeria or fight the militancy in the South. It is Nigeria that matters, not the opinion of some religious bigots,” he declared.
The President however denied any attempt to change the religious identity of the country.
He said, “How can I change the religious identity of Nigeria?
“No religion advocates hurting the innocent and just because the Muslims are the ones that claim to be Boko Haram and they are killing innocent people, whether in the church, in the bus or in the market place, then I will just sit and look at them because I too am a Muslim? Islam is against injustice in any form.”
Saudi Arabia had recently announced the formation of a coalition of 34 largely Muslim nations to fight terrorism.