Muslim leaders urge caution over pro-Biafra violence
• MASSOB insists on peaceful struggle
• Anyim distances self from agitators
NIGERIAN Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) under the leadership of the President-General, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, yesterday cautioned Muslim faithful across Nigeria against reprisal attacks following Wednesday’s burning of Central Mosque in Onitsha state and trucks believed to be owned by a Nigerian business giant.
This is coming on the heels of reports that some people from the northern part of the country are fleeing into Asaba , the Delta State capital to seek refuge following protests in Onitsha yesterday.
A trader, who simply gave his name as Suleiman, lamented that he had left all his belongings behind in Onitsha, as he was afraid that the pro-Biafra activists might attack him.
Another trader, Adamu from Bauchi State, confessed that he was not
comfortable staying in Onitsha, as the protesters had threatened to harm him or throw him into the River Niger if he did not go home.
In a related development, Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) however, dissociated itself from the violence.
The zonal leader of MASSOB in Delta North, Mr. Chinedu Amaifeobu, said that MASSOB was not a violent group and condemned alleged acts of violence being perpetrated by unidentified people.
He said: “MASSOB is not in support of the killings and destruction of property. We are not against any group in Igbo land,
not to the extent of killing innocent people and destroying property.” He insisted that there was no faction in MASSOB as allegedly being speculated. Mr. Raphael Uwazulike remains the founder and leader of the group worldwide,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Anyim Pius Anyim has distanced himself from allegations that he is one of the sponsors of the pro-Biafra agitation going on in the South-east and some parts of the South-south.
A statement issued by the media aide to Anyim, Sam Nwaobasi on Wednesday said the report is false and amounts to “taking rascality and mischief too far”.
Anyim said there has been persistent “bare-faced lies, fabrication of baseless stories and peddling of rumours on phantom issues that make no meaning or sense” published in the media, since leaving office as the SGF in May this year, all with the aim of embarrassing or ridiculing and inciting the public against him.
He warned “those behind the dastardly and mischievous acts to stop forthwith”.
In the same vein, President of Aka Ikenga, Goddy Uwazurike, cautioned those he described as ‘peaceful protesters’ to be wary of infiltrators who are thirsty for blood. He said although it is right asking for Kanu’s release, some people on both sides of the divide could be itching to settle scores.
“They should be careful because there are people who are trying to hijack this peaceful protest; they are people from both sides, those in favour of Biafra and those fighting on behalf of the Nigerian government. There are people who are looking for opportunity to cause violence,” he said.
According to the NSCIA, the arsonists are neither representing a particular religious group nor carrying any ethnic identity, but should be treated as criminally minded persons who want to plunge the nation into turmoil.
Abubakar who was represented by the Secretary General of the NSCIA Professor Ishiaq Oloyede at a press briefing in Ilorin, said any attempt to repel evil with evil was unIslamic and therefore should be shunned by all Moslem faithful across the nation.
Quoting copiously from Quoran, he said Islam forbade the burning of any designated worship centers especially churches, monasteries and mosques just as he urged Nigerian security agents to henceforth provide adequate protection for all faithful worshipers irrespective of their areas of domicile.
He said, “the NSCIA notes with distress the unfortunate and unprovoked attacks on Muslims and the Central Mosque of Onitsha, Anambra State, yesterday, Wednesday, December 2, 2015.
The perpetrators of the dastardly acts, which culminated in the loss of lives and burning of trucks owned by a prominent Muslim businessman only sought to provoke inter-religious crises and thereby get Nigeria further embroiled in needless bloodletting.
Muslims, must as a matter of principle, resist the temptation of being drawn to retaliation. They should consider the perpetrators as criminals and not representative of any ethnic or religious group.
“The NSCIA calls on all Chief Imams to utilise the Minbar tomorrow to preach, peace, justice and restraints. Two wrongs do not make a right. Innocent persons should not be made to suffer as a result of the act of few misguided individuals.”