Nigeria will join the Saudi Arabia led coalition of Muslim countries against terrorism, President Muhammadu Buhari has said in a new interview with Al Jazeerah.
In an interview with Aljazeerah, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is a Muslim from the Northern Nigeria, has stated that Nigeria will join the Saudi Arabia led coalition of Muslim countries against terrorism.
“We are part of it because we have got terrorists in Nigeria that everybody knows which claims that they are Islamic” the president said in reference to Boko Haram Islamic terorist group.
His decision to join the coalition announced by Saudi Arabia last December, appears to have changed after a meeting with the Saudi King, Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz.
According to a statement signed by his spokesperson, President Buhari had expressed reluctance to join the coalition when he met the Saudi king. “Even if we are not a part of it, we support you,” he was quoted to have said at the meeting held in Saudi Arabia in February.
The Aljazeera interview is believed to have been held in Qatar, where Buhari visited after his trip to Saudi Arabia.
Many analysts have described the coalition as Saudi Arabia’s way to challenge Iran’s growing influence in global Islamic affairs. Saudi Arabia is the leader of Sunni Muslims while Iran is the base of Shia Muslims worldwide.
Most Muslims in Nigeria are Sunni and the country’s military recently attacked a Shia procession killing hundreds, according to Human Rights Watch, after the military claimed they planned to assassinate the Army chief.
“We must not let Sunni and Shiite states furtively and covertly turn Nigeria into another Middle East battleground,” Adeolu Ademoyo, a Nigerian lecturer at Cornell University stated in opposition to the coalition.
The decision to join the Islamic coalition also goes against the calls by many Nigerians who asked that the country not join the coalition.
The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, had in December cautioned against joining the 34-member coalition, called ISMAT, announced by Saudi Arabia.
“This singular gesture of the Buhari government betrays so much, and tends to confirm our fears that underneath everything this government is doing, there is an agenda with strong Islamic undertones, aimed at undermining Nigeria’s pluralistic character and neutrality regarding government’s affiliation to any one religion,” Vanguard Newspapers quoted the coalition of Nigerian Churches as saying in a statement by its General Secretary, Musa Asake.