ACRL consists of religious leaders from the West African countries of Benin, Côte d Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
The body officially inaugurated its regional hub for West Africa in Abuja as a platform to enhance inter-faith initiatives and collaboration among national inter-religious councils in the region.
Members of ACRL-RfP present at the occasion are Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto who doubles as the Co-President, Religions for Peace (RfP).
Others are Sheikh Shaban Mubaje, the Grand Mufti of Uganda, represented by Imam Ibrahima Kone, the Secretary-General, Inter-religious Council, Côte d’ Ivoire and other executive members from various West African countries.
Speaking after the inauguration, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja and Co-Chair of ACRL said the body was committed to mobilising religious leaders and their communities to build peaceful, just, hopeful and harmonious societies in Africa.
“The ACRL- Religions for Peace (ACRL-RfP) is the largest and most representative multi-religious platform in Africa.
“We welcome the formation of a regional hub for West Africa as it will be instrumental in the sharing of knowledge and coalescing advocacy efforts pertinent to our region.
“Our vision is sustainable peace and justice in Africa and we acknowledge the role of religious leaders in ensuring peaceful communities through our different faiths and communions.
“As brothers and sisters of faith, we endeavour to bring together our faith communities in common action for sustainable peace on the continent,” he said.
Onaiyekan commended governments in the West African sub region for their efforts in fostering peace and regional integration and for the ability of religious people to operate in peace and engage in inter-faith dialogue.
He however raised a lot of negative issues which he said were affecting the growth and development of the continent, adding that governments must ensure that they were promptly addressed.
“We call upon our governments to adhere to the rule of law and commit to transparency and accountability in political and socio-economic governance of states.
“The electoral processes in Africa are currently marred with illegalities and irregularities which often lead to post electoral conflict and we need to change this cycle of violence.
“We are also deeply concerned that the mineral wealth of Africa continues to be exploited by large transnational corporations with no roots in Africa for the benefit of economies in other parts of the world.
“Thus affecting communities in Africa and denying our populations and citizens the much needed resources to grow out of poverty.
“We strongly urge our governments to review, reform and enforce the laws and policies governing the extractive industry in Africa.
“So that the mineral wealth of Africa can be used for the betterment of the lives of Africans,” he said.
The archbishop lauded the efforts of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons reiterating that the possession of nuclear weapons by any State was unacceptable, immoral, unethical and an affront to humanity.
“Africa is a nuclear weapons free zone and our leaders should keep it so; therefore, we call upon our governments in this region to sign and ratify the treaty on the Prohibition of nuclear weapons.
“We urge our African governments to make good their commitment to the various regional and international instruments on disarmament.
“We recognise the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in perpetrating harm in the region by non-actors and this must stop,” he said.