A Northern Nigerian group, Arewa Christians and Indigenous Pastors Association (ACIPA), headquartered in Jos, Plateau State, has awarded five Muslims for “courage and resilience” in defending peace and justice.
Mr. Ahmed Wakili, a Muslim BBC Reporter from Nigeria and a Jos based radio station owned by a Muslim Politician – Unity FM, were listed for the media awards while the Deputy Speaker of the Nigerian House of Reps, Mr. Idris Wase, and a Plateau Monarch, Mohammed Sambo appeared in the “special merit” category. Col. Dahiru Bako, a deceased Muslim Officer of the Nigerian Army was listed among posthumous award recepients.
ACIPA has previously awarded a popular Muslim singer, Mr. Danmaraya Jos, a philanthropist, Mr. Tanko Yakasai and a military Officer, Col. A.I. Mohammed.
Plateau State has for over two decades faced violent clashes between Christians and Muslims. The African Center for Strategic Studies says 60,000 people have died in the conflicts since 2001, nearly twice the number of people killed by Boko Haram terrorists. The conflicts have created segregation and mutual suspicion amongst citizens, which appears to reflect in their social and political choices.
ACIPA, likely the first Nigerian Christian organization to list Muslims for awards is setting a record for peace, unity and development, said a Plateau Monarch, Mr. Isaac Wakili at the award ceremony in Jos, Sunday.
“We shall arise as a united peace loving people after we have defeated religious intolerance, insecurity, poverty and all forms of challenges to life,” said Wakili, the Chief of a Jos northeastern tribe, Afizere.
The group exists to unite Nigerians from all religions to solve the country’s socioeconomic problems, said a Trustee, Rev. Justin La-nibett-le. “Many things are wrong in Nigeria. Divisions will only worsen them. We need unity to fix this country,” he said.
Future editions of the awards will include more people from the predominantly Muslim Northern Nigeria, said ACIPA President, Rev. Shehu Luke. “We are poised to be salt and light of the world as catalyst for Love, Peace, Reconciliation, Unity and Development,” said Shehu.
Other award recepients were Masara Kim Usman, a Light Bearer newspaper reporter recently intorrogated by Police and the Department of State Services (DSS) over an investigative security news report he published, as well as a female Voice of America Reporter, Zainab Babaji.
Former Speaker of the Nigerian House of Reps, Yakubub Dogara, an electoral Official, Mr. Nentawe Gosheve and philanthropists Kim De Montaxel and Sutu Jatau were awarded in the distinguished merit category along with a former Ministry of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe. Retired Major General Andrew Audu, Air Cmdr Ruth Garba and Mr. Nawani Aboki also appeared in that category.
In the posthumous category, Mr. Paul Bassi, and Philip Usman were listed alongside Wakili as Channels TV, NTA Jos, and Jay FM Jos got the media awards along with Unity FM.