Leaders of The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) recently held a meeting. At the end of the meeting, they released a communique in which they expressed opposition to introduction of Islamic banking in Nigeria.
In the communique, published in the October 20, 2011, issue of The Punch, the CAN leaders said they were not opposed to the doctrine and practice of Islam in Nigeria. They said Christianity and Islam have co-existed in Nigeria for a long time.
The leaders said they were also not opposed to introduction of Non-Interest Banking in Nigeria, but stressed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has a duty to "create and ensure a level-playing field for all interested Parties."
The CAN leaders stated, clearly, their opposition to CBN introduction of two separate banking guidelines: one for Islamic Banking and the other for "other forms" of Non-Interest Banking. The communique said:
"If there is sincerity of purpose by the CBN Governor there should be one uniform guideline for all types of Non-Interest Banking, whether floated by Christians or Muslims as is done in Education, Aviation and Petroleum Sectors..."
CAN said it opposed the establishment of a "CBN Advisory Council of Experts" within the CBN. The communique insinuated ulterior motives in establishment of the body:
"We now fully well that the composition, qualification and responsibilities of this body is a camouflage to promote Islamic Banking."
CAN decried use of "huge state funds" for financing a "discriminatory (banking) policy (which) promotes Islam....to exclusion of other religious faiths." CAN described CBN promotion of Islamic Banking as unconstitutional, and said:
"In the entire history of CBN no policy has enjoyed so much funding, intense training of staff and massive public enlightenment like Islamic Banking."
CAN situated its opposition to Islamic Banking in the context of violence by militant Islamic groups in Nigeria. In recent times, the terrorist Islamic group Boko Haram, fighting for implementation of Sharia law in Nigeria, has been implicated in bombings and killings mostly in Muslim dominated northeast states of Nigeria.
The Nigerian Christian group called on the Federal Government not to allow the CBN to further "heat up the polity" with its plan to introduce what it described as "discriminatory and divisive" policy.