The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has refuted the allegation that it hoisted an Islamic flag, which represents allegiance to Islamic and Taliban groups.
A flag bearing Islamic inscription and said to have been hoisted in the conference room of the Nigerian humanitarian agency had gone viral in social media, attracting controversies following insinuations in some quarters that Nigeria was gradually being Islamized by authorities.
Although NEMA did not deny hoisting the flag which has attracted public attention, it, however, explained that the said flag is that of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre,a humanitarian aid group in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
NEMA spokesman, Manzo Ezekiel said that the flag was hoisted on Friday, when the Saudi Arabian humanitarian group visited NEMA to commission its distress call centre donated by the group.
Describing the allegation as baseless, Ezekiel said the flag was hoisted at the event heralding the commissioning of the call centre by the Saudi-based aid organisation,represented by its Team Leader, Naseer Alsubaie.
King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, he explained, is “a development arm of the government of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“At no time did NEMA hoist any flag to show solidarity with Taliban or Islamization of the country as some people are alleging, Ezekiel was quoated by Vanguard in a report on Tuesday.
“What happened in our office on Friday was a bilateral engagement, where NEMA, as an agency of the federal government and King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, a department from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with high-profile representatives from Saudi Arabia had a joint public function and the public function was the official presentation and commissioning of NEMA Emergency Call Centre.
”King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre provided the support facilities in the upgrading of the call centre and the Saudi officials were around to witness the commissioning of the call centre.
“So, it is only normal that when you have a high-profile representative like these, and for a function that had to do with providing support for Nigeria, it is always normal that we put this flag behind them.
“It is the flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and it was used specifically for that function. Immediately the function was over, the flag was removed, it is the normal thing, it’s a normal practice anywhere.
“So,that flag has nothing to do with religion, it is about the country. It has nothing to do with solidarity with any organisation, any group or sections or any other thing other than the fact that it was the flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and it was only for that function,” he said.
He spoke further:”Sometimes,we do not think giving response to this kind of thing is necessary but sometimes, too, much of silence may be misconstrued to mean that we are accepting the allegation that is out there in the public, otherwise,we are even reluctant to speak about it.
“There is really nothing about it. We must realize that the facility these people came to support us with is for the benefit of Nigeria. So as NEMA, we now have a call centre that people in distress can call and get referrals or give support to someone that is in danger.”