Sultan of Sokoto and President- General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, yesterday condemned the act that led to the attack of Mosque in Onitsha, Anambra State on Wednesday and urged Muslim faithful not to engage in reprisal attack.
The Sultan, who spoke through the NSCIA’s Secretary-General, Professor Is’haq Oloyede, in a press briefing held in Ilorin the Kwara state capital noting that the perpetrators are not representatives of any religious or ethnic group stressing that “they should be treated as criminals”.
According to him, “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.”
Oloyede furthers that, “The NSCIA is fully aware of the development and is working round the clock to put the situation under control. Muslims are warned against the antics of those who seek to whip up religious sentiments to further their clandestine political motives. Vengeance is for Allah and Muslims should exercise maximum restraint in these trying times.
“We call on Muslim brothers and sisters not to embark on reprisals attacks on Christians and their places of worship in any part of Nigeria. We are already engaged in discussions with various security and relevant government agencies to forestall further aggravation of the situation.
“We also call on all religious and interfaith organizations across the country to step-up their peace-building initiatives in order to support the government and strengthen the enabling climate peace and good relationships.”
NSCIA also maintained that, “In addition, we want to request all Imams and Muslim scholars to cooperate with the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in dowsing the tension created by the unfortunate incidence.
“We wish to appeal to the Federal Government of Nigeria and the relevant security agencies to take urgent and appropriate steps to safeguard the lives of Muslim brothers and sisters and any other vulnerable community living in any part of the country.
“In line with our religious injunctions, preserving a single life is similar to preserving the lives of the whole of humanity. We should not allow the current unfortunate development to negatively affect interfaith relationship between Muslims and Christians in this country which is needed for the achievement of peace and development of our nation.
“In the same vein, we want to appeal to various groups and organisations to always resort to the use the appropriate channels provided by the constitution, the law and our democratic structure for resolving any grievances.
“We also call on the government to investigate the incidences surrounding the killings and wanton destruction of the mosque in Onitsha and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“The NSCIA is confident of the capacity of the state to put the situation under control. As Prophet Muhammad (SAW), said, “There is no better punishment for one who has disobeyed Allah with regard to you than your obeying Allah with regard to him.”
Police, pro-Biafra agitators count losses
Normalcy seems to have returned to the commercial city of Onitsha, Anambra State, following the bloody protest on Wednesday by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, where four members of IPOB and a lady were allegedly killed and the Onitsha Central Mosque and vehicles burnt.
It would be recalled that the mayhem the ill-fated Wednesday led to the death of some members at the Niger Bridge end of Onitsha where they had used as rallying point during the previous day’s protest.
A lady yet to be identified was shot dead by the soldiers on patrol at the busy Onitsha/Owerri road as she was said to be going on her way.
The protesters were said to have resorted to violence when the news of the death of their members filtered into the air, prompting them to burn vehicles and other valuables as they protested the killing along the major roads in Onitsha.
Meanwhile all markets, banks and other business activities were shutdown to avoid being touched by the IPOB members.
Bonfires were seen at Old and New Market Roads, Ogbommanu Junction, Savoy, Nkpor Junction, Afor-Nkpor, Bridge Head, Oguta Road among others.
Reacting, the IPOB spokesman, Emma Powerful said that the soldiers killed four of their members at the Bridge Head Market at about 1:30am early hours of yesterday morning without committing any offence.
According to him, “The soldiers came with the police, civil defence, DSS and others, attacked our men because we are non violent body.
“We will continue the protest in Onitsha tomorrow unless the Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu is released by President Muhammadu Buhari who does not want anything good from the Igbo people.”
One of the pro-Biafra group leaders, Mr. Uchenna Madu told Nigerian Pilot that their findings so far showed that eight of their members among whom were two ladies, were killed during the ugly incident.
However, both Ali and Madu denied that none of their members fired even a shot during the violence.
Madu rather accused the federal government of sponsoring some hoodlums to cause the violence so as “to give the international community the false impression that MASSOB and IPOB have become violent in their agitation for Biafra”.
He however admitted that their members were responsible for the barricade at the different entry points into Onitsha, saying that they purposely carried it out,’ to prove to the federal government that MASSOB and IPOB are capable of blocking any entrance into Biafra territory, and, we are happy that we achieved it on that day as planned”.
Though he stated that with that success they decided to discontinue their public processions till further notice, and warned President Muhammadu Buhari to order the immediate release of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, his Biafra Zionist Movement counter-part, Mr. Benjamin Onwuka and other pro-Biafra group members currently being detained in the various prisons in the country.
Besides, Madu lamented that in addition to eight of their member shot during the violence at Onitsha, over 300 of them were arrested and whisked away by members of the state special security Joint Task Force, JTF.
He stated that it was the soldiers and naval operatives attached to the JTF that killed their members, some at Obodo- Ukwu road and others shot at the Niger- Bridge head. He insisted that no amount of killing, arrest, maiming and intimidation of their members could stop the Biafra agitation.