The Islamic human rights organisation, Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has called on the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, to postpone its planned 15th National Biennial Conference.
The conference is scheduled to hold at the IBB Square, Makurdi, Benue State, from 5th to 8th February, 2019.
The appeal was made on Tuesday in a statement issued by the director of the group, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
The group hinged the call on the dangers inherent in holding a national conference which will attract members from all over the federation in the heat of political campaigns and agitations characterized by violence.
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The statement reads: “We urge the leadership of PFN to postpone its planned 15th National Biennial Conference billed to hold at IBB Square, Makurdi, Benue State from 5th to 8th February, 2019 because of the dangers inherent in holding such a programme at such a sensitive period.
“We are all aware that 2019 general elections will start on 16th February 2019 while the PFN conference is scheduled to take place between the 5th and 8th February. That is just eight days to the commencement of elections. We also know that Nigerian security agencies have been issuing warnings and pieces of advice to members of the public regarding safety measures to be taken during this electioneering period.
“Unfortunately too, the political campaigns which began some weeks ago have been marred by violence and some people have been killed in the process. The violence has been widespread across the country. In particular, Benue State which is the venue of the proposed conference has been the hotbed of clashes between herders and farmers while militia activity has been rife there. In addition, political parties have been accusing one another of amassing weapons. Meanwhile Nigeria holds her breath and trembles.”
The group said another factor to be considered was the state government and its level of readiness.
“The state government of the host city of such conferences is usually the host. Incidentally the same state government and all its officials who should be involved in the logistics and render assistance where
necessary already have their hands full with the political campaigns and preparations for the coming election.
“A programme of this magnitude should not take place just one week to the general elections. It should be noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) issued the time table of the general elections more than a year ago and all public and private institutions and organisations are expected to have taken note of it and adjusted their own schedules.
“This is where we are expressing concern about the dates picked by the organisers of the PFN biennial conference. We know that people are free to plan their programmes but it must be within reason. The lives of innocent citizens must not be endangered by any programme. Members of the PFN who will attend the programme are expected to travel from different parts of the country. This is not good enough just one week to elections.
“We warn that the PFN biennial conference planned to come up barely one week to the 2019 general elections constitutes serious threat to the security of lives of members of PFN. In the same manner, it poses
serious danger to the public as any untoward incident during the event is capable of ricocheting across the country.
“We therefore appeal to the Federal Government (FG) and the security agencies in particular to prevail upon the organizers to postpone the conference in the interest of peace, law and order. We charge FG to quickly act on this and save members of PFN from the aforementioned danger. A stitch in time saves nine. Article 14 Section 2(b) of the1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that ‘the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government’,” the group said.