As the ongoing #EndSARS nationwide protests rage, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has raised the alarm over targeted attacks against Muslims in certain parts of the South-East and South-South of Nigeria with unbridled impunity.
The Chairman, Media Committee of NSCIA, Femi Abbas, said on Friday in a statement that from reliable information reaching the council, the current mass protests embarked upon by Nigerian youths across the country, seems to have assumed a dangerous religious posture as Mosques and Muslim worshippers are now the targets of protesters’ violence in those parts of the country.
Citing an instance, Abas said that the Central Mosque of Orlu, Imo State, was attacked and burnt down last Wednesday (October 21) with one Muslim worshipper killed, while about four others were injured by the so-called ‘peaceful protesters’.
There have been reports of attacks on some indigenous and northern Muslims and their places of worship and businesses in some southern states.
According to him, those injured are now in hospital receiving treatment with little hope for survival.
“Before mayhem was fully unleashed on that Mosque, the personal belongings of the worshippers met therein were carted away in a gangsteric style of predators.
“The NSCIA is well informed that the Muslims in those regions are now living in fear of uncertainty, having been marked for possible annihilation or massacre, for practicing a religion other than Christianity.
“The danger in this development is that a precedent is being aggressively set for a religious war, the consequences of which no one can predict with precision. The incidents that led to the current nationwide protests are well known and well defined,” he said.
He said that those incidents, which mainly concern Police brutality, have nothing to do with religion and Nigerian constitution guarantees freedom of worship in all parts of the country.
Abbas said that judging by many inciting utterances coming out of some houses of worship, in the name of sermon, in certain parts of the country, before the outbreak of the ongoing protests, the NSCIA had suspected that a hidden agenda was being built, in certain quarters, to engender a dubious insurrection that could serve as a precursor for a religious war in the land.
He said, “Thus, the turning of a supposedly peaceful nationwide protest into a violent one did not come to NSCIA as a surprise. No well-meaning Nigerian groups or individuals, will claim not to know that the NSCIA does not make any frivolous noise, especially through the media, as a matter of threat to any religious group in the country.
“However, for the very first time, this apex body of Nigerian Muslim Ummah is hereby heaving a sound of warning to any fanatical religious group or individuals that may want to take Muslims as object of undue persecution in any part of the country.
“No tribal or religious group has monopoly of violence just as no particular region is earmarked exclusively for practice by any particular group of worshippers. Seeing this development as a very dangerous trend that may entail a very dangerous backlash if not immediately stopped, therefore, the NSCIA hereby calls on all governors of the south-east and south-south to quickly step into this matter with a view to checkmating the pernicious trend immediately and ensure the lives of Muslims in their respective states.”
He said that as a country, Nigeria has enough political and economic problems to grapple with, already and that adding any religious dimension to those problems may spell doom for the country as the giant of Africa.
“The Inspector-General of Police is hereby alerted on this dangerous development, the escalation of which may precipitate a deleterious situation for Nigeria. In matters of provocation and aggression, the NSCIA has been patient enough, but it cannot be forced to go beyond its elasticity limit as an apex religious body with millions of worshipers as its members,” Abbas said.