PRESS RELEASE: Raid On Aba Mosques: Stop Persecuting Muslims In South EastLatest News, Press Releases Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
Men of the Nigerian Army on Monday raided several mosques in Aba, Abia State. They arrested the Chief Imam of Aba Central Mosque, Alhaji Bashir Idris and fourteen others.
Although the Chief Imam and twelve of those arrested were set free after rigorous interrogation that lasted hours at the 144 Battalion, Asa in Ukwa West council area of the state, two teachers of the New Horizon Academy which is attached to Aba Central Mosque were not released. It was alleged that the soldiers discovered substances suspected to be chemical at the school.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) denounces the constant raids on mosques which have become recurring decimal in the South Eastern part of Nigeria. The unfolding pattern reveals overzealousness on the part of Easterners and the security operatives based in the South-East. Flimsy excuses are being used to persecute Muslims and Northerners resident in their midst.
We affirm that this is contrary to the spirit of brotherhood expected among fellow Nigerians. It is also a usurpation of the Allah-given and fundamental human rights of Muslims and Northerners residing in the South-East as enshrined in Chapter IV, Section 41(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which stipulates that “Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereto or exit therefrom.”
MURIC frowns upon these constant raids on mosques because they constitute deliberate desecration of the sanctity of a place of worship. By constantly raiding mosques, Nigerian soldiers are setting a bad precedent. Also by molesting Imams and Islamic scholars, Nigerian security agencies are engaging in religious stigmatization, ethnic profiling and undue scapegoatism.
These actions are not only most unethical but also highly unprofessional. They stand in contradistinction to international best practices among security agencies around the world where the focus is on intelligence gathering instead of the manifestation of Stone Age security gimmicks and dictatorial Gestapo tactics.
By harassing Northerners and intimidating Muslims in the South-East, Nigerian security agents are sending out the wrong message to the rest of the world, to wit, that Muslims are now endangered species in Nigeria. This is unfortunate because it proves that we are not ready to integrate Nigerian Muslims in the Nigerian project.
The allegation that the two detained teachers were storing bomb-making chemicals is spurious, baseless and unfounded. MURIC therefore demands the immediate release of the two teachers, the Chemistry teacher, Abdul Rahman Sani and the principal, Abdul Majid Abubakar. Who does not know that chemicals are needed to teach chemistry? Instead of keeping them incommunicado beyond 48 hours, the duo should be arraigned in a properly constituted court of law if anything is found against them.
MURIC is alarmed that Igbo leaders are not doing anything to stem the tide of Islamophobia in the South East. We charge Ohaneze to rise above primordial sentiments and stop the harassment of innocent Northerners and Muslims in their midst. We call on the Nigerian security agencies to stop coercing Northerners and Muslims resident in the South-East.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
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