Muslim reverts in the South South and South East geopolitical zones of Nigeria have raised alarm over what they described as “continuous discrimination against them”, thereby calling on the leadership of the Muslims to rescue them from their oppressors.
The reverts claimed that their families and communities have rejected them for no reasons other than professing the shahadah (testimony in the oneness of Allah) and accepted Islam as their one and true religion.
The South Eastern and South South geopolitical zones of Nigeria is widely believed to be predominantly made up of people whose faith is Christianity and the African traditional religion but recent findings by Muslim News Nigeria showed that Islam has become the fastest growing religion in those regions.
More people and communities, we reliably gathered are abandoning their former religions for Islam due to beautiful exhortation and relentless efforts of traders of northern Nigerian extraction as well as indigenes of other ethnic groups who now reside in the Igbo speaking communities.
As more people – young and old continue to join the religion of peace, there are claims of discrimination and rejection, which are said to have been orchestrated by their families or the leaders of the Christian community.
Some reverts from the Ndung, Uko, and Oron communities of Akwa-Ibom State spoke with Muslim News correspondents, saying that being Muslims in the South East and South South is similar to the kind of maltreatment being meted out on their brethren in faith in regions where the Royingha, Uighurs, among others live.
Mr. Victor Okon in Oron local government said Muslim reverts have been having difficulty with feeding especially during Ramadan, which ended on Saturday, May 23.
“Although, we used to get little help from the Maritime Academy in the area, we have not been able to live our usual lives since we reverted to Islam,” he added.
Mr. Victor, now Abdullah said he embraced Islam in 2018 through the efforts of a naval officer who was later transferred to Port-Harcourt, adding, “the challenges I am facing being a Muslim is that my community refused to identify with me and other Muslims as part of them.
“They would say we should cater for ourselves and be on our own. Even my work has stopped. Nobody is ready to employ me or do anything for me because I am now Muslim. We have about 18 Muslims, but many of them have relocated to the town for a better source of livelihood. Six of us are around now,” he said.
Relating his ordeal, another revert, Mr. Ya’kub Jacob Otoyo lamented, “Things are not going as I desire. We are having so many challenges. Since we became Muslims, our parents do not like us again. This community is a Christian region. So, they don’t like the fact that we are Muslims.”
A 22-year-old undergraduate of the University of Uyo, Sulaiman Okon Onuntuei, who is also from Uko/Orun LGA, Akwa-Ibom state added that they have been facing series of criticisms since their journey to Islam.
“You know how people frown at things that are new to their community but in shaa Allah, Islam is growing day by day and we have more handful of people coming in day after day.
“And we have not relented on our effort at spreading the message of Islam. So, our wish In shaa Allah, is that in the coming years, we will be a big nation of Muslims here in Akwa Ibom state,” he buttressed.
The founder of The Abaadilah Foundation, Ustadh Abdur-Raheem Ahmad confirmed the development to Muslim News as he called on all Muslim organisations, philanthropists, private and public holdings in Nigeria to come to the aid of these servants of Allah.
The Chairman, Muslim Council of Akwa Ibom state, Alhaji Musa Uyot-Amba told Muslim News that he only recently got to know about the cases of discrimination against Muslims in the State.
According to him, “This subject came up today (Sunday) at the meeting of the Indigenous Muslims of the entire Akwa Ibom State. Many of us weren’t carried along. So we have concluded that whoever is being intimidated or discriminated against on the basis of his or her religion should formally report to the Council.
He however admitted that there is cordial relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims in the State, adding that, “there is need for us as a Muslim community to investigate allegations of discrimination against our brothers.”
“In the event that issues arise, the Muslim leadership is summoned to resolve the issue amicably with those concerned,” he noted.
Sheikh Uyot-Amba advised the Muslim reverts stating that “whenever they embrace Islam, they should let the Muslim leadership know. They can get in touch with me too as the Chairman, Indigenous Muslims in the state so that I will keep the NSCIA posted on the development.”