Federal Government has said that Nigeria’s membership of the Islamic countries coalition against terror being put together by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has nothing to do with giving the country an Islamic identity.
Reacting to reports which emerged at the weekend following a broadcast of an interview granted by President Muhammadu Buhari to Aljareeza where he disclosed that Nigeria has signed up to the coalition, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama said the issue was being misinterpreted.
He was speaking with State House correspondents after a meeting with President Buhari in Abuja on Monday.
Onyeama noted that terrorism was a global phenomenon and Nigeria was ready to support any move to tackle it.
He explained that the Islamic countries were uncomfortable with the perception that terrorism was Islamic and consequently wanted to show that this was not the case.
The minister noted that the coalition was keen to demonstrate that terrorists were not speaking for Islam as there was nothing in Islamic teaching that encourages terrorism.
“It has nothing to do with religion as far as Nigeria is concerned. We have to look at what the objective is. We face terror challenges and its a global phenomenon.
“Unfortunately, the problem we have today is that some of the terrorist groups are claiming some of the things they are doing is in the name of a particular religion and it is clear to everybody that this is not the case, which is obviously a concern to people of Islamic faith and Islamic countries that their religion should be so abused.
“So, there is naturally a tendency to show that this has nothing to do with Islam. Terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. Islamic countries, Islamic people want to be seen as being in the forefront of the battle against these terrorists to show also that it has absolutely nothing to do with religion.
“That’s what this is all about. So, we are supporting every move to achieve this, to disabuse people’s minds that some of these terrorists are speaking in the name of Islam or are Islamic or that there’s anything about Islamic teaching that somehow condones these barbaric actions.
“I think it’s something we should all get together and we should all support whoever is working towards it. And that’s what this coalition is for, to show too that we are a Muslim country, we are Muslims and these people do not speak for Islam, have nothing to do with Islam.
“Most of the victims of these people are Muslims if you look at it. So, that’s what it is.
Buhari had told the international television outfit that Nigeria had joined the coalition despite earlier statement from the Presidency that he had turned down the invitation.
The president had been asked whether Nigeria was part of it and he answered: “We are part of it because we’ve got terrorists in Nigeria that everybody knows which claim that they are Islam.
“So, if there’s an Islamic coalition to fight terrorism, Nigeria will be part of it because we are casualties of Islamic terrorism,” he said.