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Soldiers Arrest Abia Chief Imam, 2 Others Over Possession Of Chemicals In Mosque

From Ignatius Okpara, Umuahia

Soldiers on Monday arrested the chief Imam of Aba Central mosques in Abia state, Alhaji Bashir Idris, and two teachers of the New Horizon Academy, a school attached to the Mosque over alleged discovering of substances suspected to be chemical at the school.

African Examiner gathered that the two teachers being detained by the security operatives are, the School director/Chemistry teacher, Abdulraham Sani, as well as Principal/English teacher Abdulmajid Abubakar.

A source close to the Hausa quarters at Mosque Street, Aba told our correspondent that 13 out 15 persons, including the Chief Imam, “who were arrested during a military raid on various mosques on the early hours of Monday in the city have been released.”

It was gathered that 13 out of the 15 suspects were said to have been released same day after several hours of interrogation at the 144 Battalion, Asa in Ukwa West council area of the state.

Speaking with newsmen shortly after his release, the chief Imam, said that the soldiers told them they came for the raid over suspected bombs and weapons allegedly being stored at various Mosques in the city.

He said, “The soldiers took us to the Army base at Ngwa Road, Aba before moving us to 144 Battalion at Asa where they interrogated us.”

“They said that they were looking for bombs and some weapons which they said we are sharing.

The Muslim cleric, appealed to government and security agencies to stop harassing the Hausa community in parts of southeast region.

“We should be given the chance to live. We don’t keep or manufacture bombs and do not support or encourage any person to make or keep bombs, Mosque is a holy place where we all gather to pray.”

According to him, “We have been living peacefully with Aba residents and will not be part of any plan to cause insecurity in Aba where we all do our lawful businesses.”

The Chief Imam, therefore, called on the soldiers to release Sani and Abubakar, whom he said, are in charge of the school as they are innocent.

Meanwhile, our correspondent reliably gathered that the Chief Imam has been re-invited by the soldiers for additional questioning.

An Islamic cleric who does not want his name to be mentioned disclosed that the heavily armed soldiers again returned to the mosque in two hilux vehicles and invited the Chief Imam to the Army Unit.

Reacting to the Chief Imam’s re-invitation, former Amirul Hajj of Abia State, Alhaji Musa Iheakaram, confirmed that soldiers visited the Aba Central Mosque where they took some photographs and later invited the chief Imam to their base.

“It is true that the school is under the Muslim Community, but the school itself does not belong to the Imams.

“It is duly registered with the Abia State government and also run according to the academic curriculum and education system of the state being used to teach in other schools in the state.

“If the soldiers want to get any information about the school, they should ask the school director and the principal who are already with them and are better placed to provide them with the needed information about the school, not inviting the Chief Imam who is not in charge of the school.” He sated

“Let them check other Chemistry and Physics laboratories in other secondary schools in the state and see if the chemicals they use for practical are different from the one found at the school, then they can go ahead and do what they like, but if they are the same, they should allow the teachers to go hence they did not find anything incriminating on them.”

He said “Our Muslim brothers have started leaving the state en mass because of the way they now being treated in the last two weeks and this calls for serious concern,” the Islamic scholar declared.


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