On January 2, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced his administration will investigate and punish all perpetrators of religious violence in his country.
“You can’t kill to please God,” Buhari stated. “I know no religion tolerates the taking of another person’s life in the name of a religious movement. There is never a justification for killing any member of the society.”
In recent years, Nigeria has suffered the violence of the Boko Haram Islamist military group. By the time Buhari was elected in 2015, more than 3 million people had been displaced in Northeast Nigeria.
“We have been tackling the Boko Haram menace, and we have made significant impact,” said Buhari. “We will extend the measures to stop all wanton killings.”
Buhari held separate meetings with the Qadiriyya Muslim Movement and the Izalatul-Bid’a-Wa-Iqamatus-Sunnah at the Nigerian State House in Abuja, to drive home his policy decision to have the nation’s security apparatus investigate threats to the peaceful coexistence of all Nigerians.
This is a major policy change for Buhari, who regained power in the 2015 presidential election. He previously held the office for two years after a military coup placed him in power in 1983. During that administration, some 500 politicians, officials and businessmen were jailed as part of his campaign against waste and corruption. Nigeria’s security organization, the NSO, also jailed dissenters and critics and enacted repressive attacks on the nation’s media.
His government was ousted by another military coup in August 1985, and Buhari was detained for three years in Benin.
In his election campaign in 2015, Buhari referred to himself as “a converted democrat who is ready to operate under democratic norms.”