Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has called on the troubled West African country to ban religious groups as a way of ending sectarian violence.
Sanusi told an inter-faith dinner organised by the Northern Reawakening Forum (NRF) on Tuesday that poverty reduction was key to the scourge of violence.
"I almost didn't want to attend this occasion because I am opposed to regional, ethnic and religious groupings in this country," he said.
"In fact, I would like the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Jamatul Nasril Islam (JNI), Afenifere and all such other groups to be banned."
He drew parallels between the insecurity in northern Nigeria and power struggles among politicians that used religion to pursue their agendas.
But the governor's comments have been criticised by religious leaders who say they will incite more violence.
Chief Reuben Fasoranti, leader of the Afenifere, described Sanusi's comments as a joke.
"That is a big joke. We (Afenifere) are not given to violence. We want unity and progress. He is shooting at the wrong target," Fasoranti charged.
Chief Nduka Eya, Ohanaeze Ndigbo national secretary said the governor's comments must be ignored.
"What is wrong with Nigeria is that everybody has a solution to Nigeria's problems. Too many cooks spoil the broth," he said.
"Sanusi does not deserve our response because his comment is frivolous."
CAN Secretary-General Reverend Musa Asake said groups like his were infact critical in ensuring peace in the country.
"CAN is not the cause of trouble or insecurity in this country. CAN was formed to protect the interests of Christians, especially in fighting persecution," he said.
Sanusi also blamed the rise of the Islamist terror group Boko Haram on the country's political elite, which he described as selfish.