Stakeholders from the north-central zone calls for the protection of holy sites

16901544_1774882532830938_1176075477_n16923337_1774882526164272_2003642895_n16923851_1774882542830937_1867673691_n16933362_1774882536164271_282557662_nStakeholders from the North-Central Zonal of Nigeria have called on government and security agencies, NDLEA, NAFDAC to respond promptly to ongoing banditry in the zone and a ban on illicit sales of  drugs and abuse which become an element that often ferments troubles in the zone.
They made the called in a communique issued at the end of a 2 days Joint  Interfaith meeting building  consensus for the implementation of the, ‘Protection of Holy Sites and the Universal Code of Conduct on Holy  Sites’ in the region organised by Search for Common Ground, Nigeria held on 13th and 14th February, 2017  at the Crispan Luxury Apartments, off Zarmaganda  road, in Jos the Plateau State capital.
The North-Central Zonal Meeting examined the Provisions of the  Universal  Code  of  Conduct  on Holy  Sites.  The  Code which contains 10 articles on the protection of Holy Sites, defined by the  Code  as  places  of  profound  significance  and holy religious attachment such as Churches, Mosques, Cemeteries, Synagogues among others.
They pointed out that the objective of the meeting is to fine tune ways which special  character with integrity are to  be preserved  and  protected  against  all  sort of violence   and desecration.
“In focusing on issues of definitions, preservation, access, sharing, conflict prevention and resolution, reconstruction, memorialization,  expropriation,  education,  establishment, excavation  and  research,  this  Universal  Code  lays  out  the foundation  for  a  cooperative,  concrete  implementation plan for preventing and ending conflict in relation to holy places in the Country”.
The Code encourages religious leaders, traditional institutions and  other  interfaith  bodies  to  consider  it  as  a  template  for cooperation  to  confront  the  need  to  protect Holy Sites  as  a socially compelling imperative.
In  the  spirit  of  the  Code, we  suggest  the  adaptation  and implementation  of  the  Code  such  that  it  reflects  local  needs and  peculiarities  of  different  communities, such a process may include but not limited to;   education,   monitoring, documentation,  joint  visits  and  denunciations  by  religious leaders to attacked Holy Sites, among other activities. it reads.
As part of the strategy, this North-central Zonal meeting  has deliberated  on  the  applicability  of  the  Universal  Code in the Region, these include:
Translating  the  Universal  Code  into  easily  understood local languages Conducting researches Promoting Holy Sites as centres for learning, recognizing vulnerable groups (gender, disability,etc) Trauma healing and mindset transformation mitigating    against hate ideologiesand derogatory speeches, role model   lifestyles by religious practitioners   and others empowering families  especially mothers  as  the  first  and the best teachers to restore family values.
These they said is aim at getting key  religious leaders to advocate for the inclusion of religious  studies as compulsory in  schools curriculum to looked deeper into educating the youth to develop relevant entrepreneurial skills and on the use of social media tools to effectively counter misinformation, abuses and other regulatory agencies establish a national early warning system and strengthen existing ones.
The communique maintained that the moved will create an enabling  environment where Leaders will be sincere  and  courageous  in  their  role  of  protecting holy sites backed by quotation or sayings from respective holy books which recognize the need   for   inclusivity of the various communities and actors to be   engaging  with the  Ministry of Women Affairs and    market  women associations etc.
While calling  on religious  organizations to  publicly endorse the Universal Code of Conduct on the Protection of Holy Sites as it addresses the peculiar issues of North-Central Nigeria.  The stakeholders said “We recognize the role  of  religious  leaders  in  addressing  conflicts  pertaining Holy Sites,  and  reaffirm  the  moral  responsibility to speak up for the protection of Holy Sites of all, regardless of the religion or tradition building on international  conventions  and norms  that  safeguard  the  freedom  of  religion  or  beliefs and  other  human  rights,  preserve  cultural  heritage,  and safeguarding civilians in armed conflicts,” they positioned.
The two-day interfaith meeting has  Christian and Muslim Religious  Leaders  from  four  states  of  the North-Central Nigeria comprising Niger,  Kaduna, Nasarawa and Plateau States respectively.


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