Civil Rights organisations do more to prevent terrorist activities in Nigeria than security forces. That is the conclusion of Imam Muhammad Ashafa and his colleague, Pastor James Wuye, the co-founders of the "Interfaith Mediation Centre" in Kaduna, Nigeria.
The centre, founded in 1995, successfully resolves conflicts which have been occurring frequently in Nigeria since the eighties. Many ethnic and religious groups live in Kaduna. That is why this state is among those most threatened by conflict, in the country as a whole. Various groups are fighting over the limited socio-economic resources and a fair distribution of political power. Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye are constantly drawing attention to the causes of religious violence and continuing disasters, as well as to efforts made to prevent or limit further outbreaks of violent religious conflict in Nigeria. In their youth, both the Imam and Pastor James were leading activists with militant Muslim and Christian youth organisations respectively. In the early nineties, as a result of violent confrontations between Muslim and Christian youth organisations in the city of Kaduna, Pastor Wuye had one of his arms chopped off with a machete. At that time, both showed burning passion as they fought for their respective faiths.
What Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye achieved, in the short period between January 2000 and January 2003, was to bring religious leaders together to sign the rapturously-received Kaduna Peace Treaty. The work of Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye has now spread from Kaduna to the States of Kano, Plateau, and Taraba. As a result of its persistence, the Interfaith Mediation Centre has accumulated the strength to break free of former restrictions and become effective beyond Nigeria’s borders.