It is interestingly understood that the activities of some dissident militant groups in Ala-Igbo operate within the guidelines of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. Under the guise of actualisation of sovereign Biafra or clamour for national wealth equity distribution, MASSOB, IPOB, et cetera, will target only the Muslim communities in the South Eastern states. They will Loot and destroy the Muslims properties and kill as much number as possible, lo and behold, it will be given a grave silence by the media.
Interview with Aishat Obi on attacks on Igbo Muslims
There is no gain saying that Ohanaeze is not secretly supporting their nefarious activities through providing the media censorship. Ohanaeze Ndigbo will be the first to assemble not too important members of the aggrieved group in a televised media conference to deny all allegations in what Attamah calls “Debunking.”
There has not been any of such media propaganda channelled towards disownment or proscription of the group or their activities even when the central government called them terrorist group and proscribed their operations in the country.
In their concerted efforts to invisibilize the rooted presence of Islam in Ala-Igbo and conceal the Igbo Muslim Massacre and destruction of properties of recent, Ohanaeze Ndigbo in their usual propaganda of calumny, went ahead to deny vivid atrocities that engulfed almost all the south-eastern states, in a press release that politicizes Igbo Muslims peaceful agitation for redress.
Through their media and publicity machinery, Chief Emeka Attamah, Special Adviser to President General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Apex Igbo cultural organization;
a) Denied the apparent Massacre and Killings of South Eastern Muslims and destruction of their properties in Ala-Igbo and tagged it ‘Misinformation.’
b) They blatantly claimed there were no two mosques burnt and destroyed at Nsukka, and that there has been no report of the killings and destructions to any group (e.g- Ohanaeze) or government agency.
c) They gloriously assumed our quest for justice is aimed at unsettling Ndigbo political ambition for presidency in 2023.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo tactics of cajole and pacification to undermine serious national issues have been perfect tools in place. They will cajole and buy over few Muslims in the area to a press conference claiming all is well in situations of religious tensions. We are aware of the fact that some members of Nsukka division of Ohanaeze have been persuading our Imams and Muslim community leaders to sign one letter/petition, and to publicly accept what happened as mere hoodlums attacks.
Such ploy has been Ohanaez’s antics towards some groups of Igbo Muslim communities. They will pride themselves to have debunked any legitimate claim or agitation. However, the South East Muslim Organisation of Nigeria’s (SEMON) pursuit for retribution is beyond conjuring.
You may boast of a failed Prof. Ango Abdullahi’s campaign, after getting some Muslims of northern extraction to read your speech to the world in a kangaroo press conference. Why has it taken you endless months before you could respond to a press Release you tagged “misinformation?”.
It may interest you to know that SEMON duly wrote to IGP, DSS and other law enforcement agencies, the Supreme council, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and to all the governors of South Eastern States as we wait for their further investigations and responses.
For doubting Thomas, the pictorial and video backings of our claims are displayed in Igbo Muslim Forum’s facebook gallery (@igbomuslim), Twitter accounts, and were captured in headlines of few dailies; including MURIC and “The Muslim News” media prints.
In response to your rhetorical questions on hospitality;
You rightly mentioned that “Ndigbo have always been hospitable and accommodating hosts to their visitors and cannot change overnight”. Your enquiry into when the peaceful situation changed is handy. It started when the Biafran war campaign was peddled through religious bigotry as panacea to winning the war. History has it that after Ahiara declaration; many Igbo Muslims were hounded and killed en mass.
The aforementioned war aftermath left a lasting bane in the heart of Ndigbo that culminated to hating anything Hausa and in extension their dominant religion of Islam. It gradually grew to present social prevalence that tends to link ‘Christianity to Igboness’. The killings and destruction of eastern Muslims properties that started thence have continued unabated. Every recent agitation for Biafra, from MASSOB to IPOB, and their cohort clergies in pulpit, like Rev, Bishop Godfrey Onah, will only target Eastern Muslims in any unprovoked pandemonium.
We Ndigbo should not allow our myopic understanding of Islam rule over our emotions. Islam is a Semitic religion like Christianity. Both religions are alien to us Ndigbo. If we can accept and embrace Christianity, same should be applied to Islam.
To clarify some of the issues you raised on;
Hausa Killing Implications;
After every killings and destructions of Muslims properties in the region, Ndigbo will simply justify it with statements like; ‘they are Hausas’. We are informed of your translation of Hausas to mean ‘Muslims’ irrespective of origin. Better still, are Hausa Muslims living in eastern region better of killed and their properties destroyed by us for no other reason than they are Muslims?
In a concerted dictum that says, “ Igboman cannot be Muslim”, Ndigbo have always undermined the progress of Islam in Ala-Igbo. Engrossed in their hate, they persistently chose to believe that Easterners cannot be Muslims, and the research claim of 25% Muslim population of South Easterners by Igbo Muslim Forum is regarded as rhetoric.
Ohanaeze to openly deny the destruction of mosques in Nssuka is act of political naiveté. They are accomplice through attempts to conceal apparent truth. For record purposes, the Eden Road Junction Mosque and Barack Central Mosque that were torched down last November (Presently under re-construction, courtesy of Enugu state government), were built by Nsukka Muslim communities since 1950s and 1960s respectively. Their Imams are Muslims of Igbo descent. Therefore when you destroy and kill worshipers in these mosques, you would eventually be killing your blood brothers and sisters. Sheikh Ossai of Igbo-Eze central Mosque, Nsukka and Sheikh Adam Idoko (Late) of UNN Mosque, all in Enugu are Imams of these respective mosques and bona fide Igbo blooded.
The likes of Orlu central Mosque of Imo state, also destroyed by the #EndSars guise in October and the Enohia Islamic Centre of Ebonyi state were singlehandedly built by Igbo Muslim Leaders. These Mosques have all faced series of attacks from our Christian co-Igbos and Ohanaeze has never deemed it necessary to comment or condemn such acts of barbarism.
Are you pan-Igbo or selective representative organization?
Ohanaeze’s Open denials and concealment of lucid truth are gross insults that speak volume of its leadership and could undermine the Igbo nation’s political pursuits. It is by extension branding all the highly placed individuals like His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, the Executive Governor of Enugu state and other reputable organisations like Nigeria Supreme council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) as liars for having voiced their concerns on the matter in numerous national dailies.
Islam teaches oneness in worship and social relationship of Muslims. An Igbo Muslim in any community of Muslims is automatically an essential part of that community; likewise a Yoruba or Hausa Muslim in Ala-Igbo is an integral part of the Igbo indigenous Muslim Community. Islam mandates on the host community their protection and well being (Islaahah). Enough of these divide and rule game and fooling of the Igbo general public and Nigerians. We demand of you – Ohanaeze Ndigbo – to admit the realities and;
1. Apologize to the South East Muslim communities for the killings and destruction of their properties.
2. Publicly distance yourself from IPOB activities and condemn all their atrocities in Ala-Igbo.
3. Re-enforce the Federal Government proscription of IPOB in all eastern states and declare Nnamdi Kanu wanted.
Finally, the Ohanaeze expression of insecurity and prediction of a failure is well comprehended. Your co-option of Igbo ambition for presidency in 2023 into pure quest for justice explains how cheap and unprepared you are towards the project.
If you claim to truly represent all Igbo people (Worldwide), and recognize “the inevitability and political sagacity of building bridges for the attainment of national political ambitions”, it will be in your best interest to embrace and unite all, and to work in all frontiers. Igbo Muslims could be the accentuators and guiding light in your actualization of 2023 presidential project. However, it’s quit early for you to start looking for whom to blame for your inability to galvanize other ethnic regions into the project. If the presidential ambition is dear to you, don’t seek cheap sympathy.
Dr. Suleman Afikpo
Member, Elders Committee, South East Muslim Organisation of Nigeria (SEMON) & The
Coordinator General, Igbo Muslim Forum. [email protected]