By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The Nigerian Islamic human rights group, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has accused Rev. Fr. Godfrey Igwebuike Onah of using his recent church sermon to incite Christians of Nsukka to attack Muslims and destroy mosques in the town. The group has therefore called on the security agencies to arrest the clergyman. The call was made on Friday, 6th November, 2020 by the Director and Founder of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
“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.
“Rev. Fr. Onah’s sermon is laced with hatred and bitterness. It is the most odious and insidious religious extremism. It is an unguarded and inflammatory verbal halitosis. There must be consequences for such diatribe otherwise violence will run a full cycle. Religious leaders who instigate violence and watch as their hate speech consume people and properties have lost the moral right to be respected as leaders.
“It will be recalled that the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has sent a petition to the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS). 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 deterrent for other religious leaders who may want to use the pulpit or minbar to ignite 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. Anything short of that will be an abdication of responsibility and an invitation to anarchy. Nigeria in recent time has experienced enough violence leading to unnecessary loss of lives and the destruction of properties worth billions of naira. 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 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.”