The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has urged the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) to desist from religious suspicion and sentiment over the plans by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to establish a non-interest Islamic banking system in the country.
The secretary general of NSCIA, Dr. Abdul Lateef Adegbite, in a statement yesterday argued that the current introduction of Islamic banking is constitutional and legal, stressing that it would provide an alternative banking facility to Muslims and interested non-Muslims who do not want to patronise conventional banks principally for the avoidance of interest (usury).
Stating that this banking system had been adopted in more than 75 countries, he wondered why Nigeria, being the sixth largest Muslim population in the world, would not partake in the benefits of a global financial product.
He said, “The criticism of the introduction of Islamic banking is uninformed and unobjective and smacks of religious intolerance. In the light of this, we strongly plead with the critics of Islamic banking to be objective and desist from seeing the development as a ploy to short-change Nigerian Christians or any other religious group.
“We assure that these banks will not discriminate or operate as a closed shop. Ownership of the banks will not be restricted to Muslims only.
“Non-Muslims who are interested in buying shares in the banks would be free to do so as in the current case of JAIZ, where many non-Muslims are already shareholders and therefore co-owners of the company. Non-Muslims who so desire, would be free to be customers of any Islamic bank in Nigeria.”
He however maintained that the new financial facility as represented by Islamic banking, was poised to usher a new era of economic well-being into the country.
“We would like to appeal to all leaders of thought, especially the leadership of PFN to move away from sentiment and embrace truth, understanding and mutual trust in their relationship with their Muslim counterparts, in the interest of harmonious co-existence in the country,” he said.