The Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has called on security agencies to arrest a clergyman, Rev. Fr. Godfrey Onah, for inciting attack on Muslims in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State.
The MURIC Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, in a statement on Friday, alleged that Mr Onah, in a recent church sermon, incited Christians of Nsukka to attack Muslims and destroy mosques in the town.
The group noted that a number of Muslims were also attacked and injured during the chaos.
The statement said: “The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is in possession of a video clip in which Rev. Fr. Godfrey Igwebuike Onah incited Christians a few days ago.
“The clergyman said inter alia, ‘It is not possible that here in Nsukka we hear the Muslim call to prayer from our windows as early as 4 am …’
“There is no doubt that this is an undisguised directive to attack and destroy mosques in Nsukka and, by extension, the whole South East.
“Two mosques were burnt beyond recognition in the same town within one week of that incitement. A number of Muslims were also attacked and injured.”
The group lamented that Mr Onah’s sermon was laced with hatred and bitterness, making it an odious and insidious religious extremism.
The group, therefore, said there must be consequences for such diatribe otherwise violence would run a full cycle.
It added that religious leaders who instigate violence and watch their hate speech consume people and properties should have no moral right to be respected as leaders.
The group further recalled that the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, had sent a petition to the Director General of the State Security Services, SSS.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and we are waiting to see whether or not the DSS will do the needful. It is imperative for the DSS to act for three reasons.
“One: it will assure victims of the attacks that there is hope for redress. Two: it will serve as a deterrent for other religious leaders who may want to use the pulpit or minbar to ignite a crisis.
“Three: Muslims who are aggrieved by the attacks on their fellow faithfuls will be assuaged.
“The ball is therefore in the court of the DSS. We fully endorse the call made by the NSCIA for the arrest of Rev. Fr. Onah,” the statement said.
The group warned that allowing the clergyman to go scot-free would be an “abdication of responsibility and an invitation to anarchy”.
Recall that Nigeria has in recent time experienced enough violence leading to unnecessary loss of lives and the destruction of properties worth billions of naira.
It also alleged that procrastination on the part of the security agencies may have been partly responsible for the breakdown of law and order.
“People must be made to respect the law. Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees freedom of religion.
“Attack on mosques in the South East is therefore an encroachment on Allah-given and fundamental rights of Muslims in the area.
“The fact that many of those attacked are indigenous Igbo Muslims depicts the height of intolerance and religious bigotry,” the group warned.