Thursday, June 30, 2011

Okogie condemns Islamic banking, wants licence revoked

By Joseph Onyekwere

THE Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie has kicked against the move by the Federal Government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to endorse the commencement of Islamic Banking in Nigeria, saying such was capable of fueling religious tension in the country.

Okogie condemns Islamic banking, wants licence revoked


According to a statement signed by the Director of Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Very Rev. Monsignor Gabriel Osu, Cardinal Okogie believes that the effort by the CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to ensure speedy take-off of the scheme through its promoters, Jaiz International Bank was part of the grand plan to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state.

He said: "We condemn such move in all its ramification. We are against the operation of Islamic banking in Nigeria because we see it as another deliberate move to subjugate Christians in Nigeria. Nigeria is a secular state. We must be very sensitive to the religious beliefs of others. Introducing Islamic banking in Nigeria will further aggravate the culpable religious tension in the country already being hoisted by the radical Islamic sect, the Boko Haram."

Okogie recalled how in the mid-nineties, the military government under General Ibrahim Babangida enlisted Nigeria's name as a member of the controversial Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), without due consultation with all other religious groups in the country.

"I see some faceless groups trying to smuggle in their sinister agenda through the back door, but it will not work. We all kicked against the enlistment of Nigeria as a member of OIC in 90's. As usual, they came up with several arguments that we stand to gain lot economically. This time too, the CBN is telling every one who cares to hear that the scheme promises non-interest banking, as if it all ends there.

"Why should they come up with such an idea at this point under the tenure of Lamido Sanusi? What will happen if Christians should wake up tomorrow and say they want to start a Christian banking scheme and those in the traditional religion decide to do likewise? We are going to ensure that it does not see the light of the day," he insisted.

He urged President Goodluck Jonathan and the CBN to quickly rescind the license granted the promoters of the bank, warning that allowing such bank to exist was capable of flaming the embers of religious warfare and aggravating the already tensed security atmosphere in the country.

The clergy rather cautioned the CBN to concentrate on the ailing banks in Nigeria and strategize on how to ensure their vibrancy.

"We already have eight ailing banks in the country. The CBN should focus more on how to bring them back to life rather than dissipating energy on a project as Islamic banking, that was laid to rest in the 90's," he stated.