▪︎ 5 mosques burnt, property worth millions of naira destroyed
They went straight into the mosque and started shooting indiscriminately at worshipers — Aisha Obi
They took advantage of the protest to launch attack on us – Alhaji Yishau Imam
Be calm and law-abiding, Imam Akilu pleads with Muslims
No fewer than 26 Muslims were reportedly killed by suspected members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) during the #EndSARS protest that rocked various communities in the South-South and South-East regions of Nigeria between Tuesday and Thursday, October 20-22, 2020, Muslim News findings have revealed.
The #EndSARS protest was meant to be a genuine clamour for the reform of the Nigerian police institution, but was later hijacked by some criminal elements who perpetrated lawless activities, killing innocent Nigerians, burnt and destroyed public and private institutions, including mosques.
In the series of attacks specifically targeted against Igbo and Hausa/Fulani Muslims by suspected IPOB members in South-South and South-East, Muslim News investigations showed that about five mosques were also razed and vandalised.
▪︎ 10 Muslims died in Port Harcourt
In Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the Muslim community was thrown into mourning following what they called “premeditated attacks” on their members by mobs suspected to be IPOB members.
Our Correspondent gathered that about ten Muslims lost their lives while several others sustained various degrees of injuries during the attacks that rocked places such as Oil Mill Market, Rumukushi, Oyigbo, Eleme, among others.
The son of the Seriki of the Hausa community in Eleme, Alhaji Attahiru Shittu was among three victims allegedly burnt beyond recognition by the outlawed terrorist group.
Confirming the incident to Muslim News, Alhaji Akilu Muhammad, the Imam of Trailer Park Central Mosque said they had lost ten members, including the son of the Seriki Hausa community, who was burnt beyond recognition.
According to him, “During the EndSARS protests, we began to receive distress calls from our brothers in Oyigbo and some parts of Oil Mill market, Eleme, Rumukushi, Mile 1, up to Diobu where so many Muslims reside. They were attacked by IPOB members who were also calling for #EndSARS.
“However, the attacks were resisted in some areas but in a place like Eleme junction and Oyigbo, the IPOB members attacked in large numbers and they were able to kill our fellow Muslims and burnt some of their wares worth several millions.
“We were able to bury six people on Friday, October 26, because we couldn’t locate their dead bodies (corpses) until Thursday night, when the Imam of Oil Mill market told me they have recovered 3 dead bodies (corpses). One of them was identified as the son of our Seriki. He was a mechanic and went to Rumuokoro to repair a truck. On his way back, he was attacked and burnt to ashes, beyond recognition.”
1. Let it be on record that when the media downplayed the killings of #Muslims in the South-South and SouthEast during the #EndSARS protest, @muslimnews_NG didn’t join in suppressing the reports of the killings, 'cos #alllivesmatter. #wednesdaythought #shekau#ZabarmariMassacre pic.twitter.com/7Hav9EMVJA
— Muslim News Nigeria (@muslimnews_NG) December 2, 2020
Muslim News investigations revealed that the victims were targeted by the dangerous group because of their religion, Islam.
@AmnestyNigeria if you're not against us, investigate the stories below:
1. Viewers' discretion: Muslim Community releases names, pictures of 10 victims of IPOB killing in Port Harcourt | Read more >> https://t.co/KhbLFJe5eH
— Muslim News Nigeria (@muslimnews_NG) November 3, 2020
To further ascertain their claims, the bereaved community compiled and released the names of the victims to our correspondent.
Imam Akilu said the victims’ corpses, ten in number, were discovered and retrieved at different locations in Port Harcourt, adding that they were targeted by the group because of their religion, Islam.
He said, apart from Yahya Shittu (1), the son of the Seriki Hausa community at Eleme, who was burnt at Eleme junction, two other corpses (Adamu Bello and Amadu Bello) were recovered on Sunday inside Boro pit.
There remaining seven victims are: Sulaiman Dan Lafiya, killed and burnt at Obigbo; Ibrahim Abdullahi, killed and burnt at Irebehe; Idris Bello, killed at Irebehe, Oyigbo; Isa ‘Kaki no be leather’, killed at Irebehe, Oyigbo; Abubakar Me turare, killed at Rumuokwrushi and Isiyaka Ibrahim, killed at Rumuokwurushi.
Alhaji Akilu confirmed that nine victims had been buried in accordance to Islamic rites, adding that, “The corpse of the last victim, which is no 10, Babangida Sulaiman, couldn’t be found because he was thrown into the river.”
The Muslim community commended the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike and the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Joseph Mukan, for identifying with them in the face of these challenges.
Imam Akilu called on Muslims to be calm and remain law-abiding, saying that Islam is a religion of peace and does not allow reprisal, even though our properties have been destroyed.
Governor Wike on Thursday, October 29 signed an Executive Order proscribing IPOB in Rivers, saying, “This is clearly a terrorist group which existence, creed, mission and activities are strongly denounced even by the government and people of South-Eastern States of the country.”
▪︎ One killed in Orlu Central Mosque, Imo
There have been coordinated and continuous attacks on Igbo Muslims and the Hausa community in the South-South and South-East, regions predominantly populated by Christians.
In a continuation of the senseless attacks, suspected members of IPOB spread their tentacles to the Muslim community in Orlu, the second largest city in Imo State, Southeast, Nigeria, leaving one callously murdered and scores with varying degrees of injuries.
Ms Aisha Obi made this heartrending revelation in an interview with Muslim News, noting that members of the proscribed group allegedly hid under the guise of #EndSARS protesters to launch devastating attacks on defenceless Muslims.
According to her, “They stormed the community and went straight to the mosque. The next thing was that they started shooting gun (sic). The worshippers then began to run helter-skelter. The attackers shot indiscriminately at worshippers. They also used machetes, which resulted in many people sustaining injuries.
“A particular driver wanted to run away from the scene, but was killed instantly. Three bullets were found to have hit him. His conductor was also shot, but was lucky not to have given up the ghost. He however sustained injuries. So, only the driver died from the dastardly attack,” she added.
Igbo Muslimah, Aishat Obi visited the burnt #OrluMosque in Imo, where #IPOB killed 1, injured 4 Muslims during the #EndSARS protests. We call for calm, and seek @PoliceNG @HQNigerianArmy to protect our brethren in the South-South/East. Watch full video >> https://t.co/nbw4aA8yx5 pic.twitter.com/olmTnjCGNQ
— Muslim News Nigeria (@muslimnews_NG) October 28, 2020
The eloquent Ndigbo Muslimah said, “Some persons have been saying our narrative is false. I went there to make a video so that people can see we are actually telling the truth.
“Similarly, I went to the hospital to record those who were severely injured. They were between 5 and 7 persons. Out of fear, some of the victims have been evacuated from the hospital by their kinsmen. I think about three more people are still there. There was also a man from Abakaliki coming back from work; he was shot. He’s also receiving treatment at the hospital.“
The Muslimah, who is also an indigene, said that the attackers are suspected to be members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, an outlawed terrorist group, given their strategy and chants, adding that their words were that they do not want Muslims in Igboland.
She also observed that not all Igbos believes in the agitation for Biafra Republic.
“What the assailants were chanting was that they do not want Muslims in Igboland. They said ‘it’s Biafra’ they want. That’s why all of us are suspecting Biafra advocates. These attackers also had emblems of #EndSARS pasted on their cars. When they got to the mosque, they were shouting ‘EndSARS’, ‘we don’t want Muslims in Biafra land.’
▪︎ Muslim community loses 10 members in Aba
The killing of innocent Muslims and destruction of their property took another horrible dimension when some heavily armed hoodlums stormed the Community Mosque at Uratta Onions Market, Aba, the commercial centre of Abia State, killing about 10 Muslims of Hausa/Fulani extraction.
The Secretary of the market, Alhaji Muhammad Sanni confirmed the incident, describing it as unprecedented.
He told Muslim News’ correspondent on Tuesday, December 2, in an interview, saying “What happened in Aba on Thursday, October 22, around 4pm was very terrible and we’ve never experienced such before. I was at the market at the time of the unfortunate incident.”
According to him, the assailants claimed to be #EndSARS protesters who were just passing by. So, not long after they left, they turned back again and the next thing we heard were gunshots. Then, some members of the Nigerian Army also fled with the crowd and then the hoodlums began shooting sporadically and burning our trailers and goods. They burnt about 72 vehicles, some of which belonged to private individuals with goods worth millions of naira inside them.
“After they finished burning our stalls and vehicles, they entered the mosque in the market and started destroying everything inside, including the Noble Qur’an and electronic appliances,” Sanni said.
Unlike the case in Orlu, Imo; Oyigbo in Port Harcourt and Onitsha, which were reportedly carried out by suspected members of IPOB, Alhaji Muhammad said he couldn’t confirm the identity of the perpetrators of the heinous crime.
He added that three people were killed in Uratta market, while seven men, who sell watermelon were killed in Ariaria, Aba, Abia state.
According to him, they are: Ahmed Rabiu (Zaki LGA, Bauchi), Mallam Habibu (Zaria, Kaduna), Alkasim Sakwaya (Jigawa), Muhammad Isah (Jigawa), Ashiru Ibrahim (Maradi, Niger Republic), Ibrahim Inuwa (Kano), Muhammad Ya’u (Kebbi), Adamu Ibrahim (Nasarawa), Umaru Kaura (Kano) and Kasimu Auwal Aliero (lga, Kebbi).
He said, “There were lots of casualties from the incident and the government did nothing to help them. We’re the ones rallying around to take care of victims. Majority of the injured men have been sent to their families in the North. Some were sent to Jigawa and Sokoto.”
Remains of the deceased have, however, been buried at a cemetery ground in Aba.
▪︎5 Muslims killed in Onitsha attacks
Also narrating the attack on Muslim faithful in Onitsha, Anambra state, Alhaji Yishau Imam, Secretary of Onitsha Central Mosque, Bida road said the suspected IPOB members took advantage of the #EndSARS protest to launch attacks on their members.
Alhaji Yishau recalled previous attacks on Muslims and particularly the same Central Mosque, noting the arsonists are not comfortable with the long history of the mosque which they are hell-bent on destroying. He said the mosque is the only Muslim worship centre within the Onitsha city metropolis.
According to the scribe, “They have been doing it before. At every opportunity or when there is a crisis, they take advantage of it to launch attacks on Muslims and the mosque. They have done it like three times. The last one before this recent one was in 2013. They razed down Bida Road Central Mosque, Onitsha main market. Then, the Governor came visiting, and helped us renovate the mosque.
“The first attack on the mosque was in the year 2000 during the Shariah riots. They launched another attack in 2006, and it was the worst one, wherein about 100 Muslims were killed during one ‘cartoon saga’. At the time, it wasn’t IPOB members but MASSOB members because IPOB was not in existence. About four mosques were burnt down in the attack and scores of Muslims murdered. If I’m not mistaken, we mass-buried about 74 Muslims.
“When there is any face-off between the police / military and the Onitsha people, they just come down straight to our mosque for reprisal attack. Their belief is that the police/military officers are Hausa Fulanis, and attacking the mosque/Muslims is the way to settle such scores.
“Their grouse is that the mosque I’m talking about is at the centre of Onitsha metroplis and has a very long history. It was built in 1903. It was our grandfathers that built it. The first batch of Muslims came down to Onitsha in 1890 from Kano; this is about 130 years ago.”
He also explained how the attack of Wednesday, October 21 happened, revealing that five Muslims died while seven others sustained varying degrees of injuries.
Alhaji Imam identified the victims who lost their lives as: Umar Shaibu from Tangaza, Sokoto; Mallam Wada Maisuya from Katsina; Alhaji Sale Azare from Bauchi; Abubakar from Sokoto; and Shaibu Darki from Kano.
According to him, “So, coming to the recent attack in 2020. In the heat of the #EndSARS protest, precisely by October 21, we started receiving calls from Aba, Orlu and other areas in the Southeast where Muslims are resident that mosques are being attacked. We now alerted the security agencies in anticipation of eventualities.
“On the eve of October 21 after our Ishai prayer, we saw some youngsters numbering up to 7 with backpacks stuffed with weapons. The next thing was the sound of gunshots. Some thought it was mere ‘bangers’ given the ‘ember’ season.
“The #EndSARS protesters said they were holding candle night at GMDS roundabout, which is far away from our mosque. We never envisaged any attack on us because we felt the agitation was a national one against police brutality devoid of ethnic/religious colourations. Shockingly, we started hearing gunshots. They set the mosque on fire. However, the fire was later quelled.
“Two persons died in front of the mosque, while seven other persons were seriously injured as a result of being hit by bullets. We took them to the hospital. One of them is an Almajiri from Bauchi State.”
Alhaji Yishau meanwhile exonerated the indigenes of Onitsha from the attack on Muslims, saying it was perpetrated by thugs believed to have come from outside who are not comfortable with the rising status of Islam in the region.
He said he believed that true indigenes were always supportive of Muslims, even during the deadly attacks against them.
The Secretary also used the opportunity to appreciate the Sultan of Sokoto, Obi of Onitsha and the Government of Anambra state for their unwavering support.
▪︎ Nsukka mosques attacked
Barely two weeks after the burning down of the Orlu Central mosque in Imo state, two Muslim worship centres were also destroyed at Nsukka, in Enugu, South-Eastern Nigeria.
But, unlike the Orlu mosque arson which was allegedly perpetrated by members of the outlawed group, IPOB, the Muslim community said the latest attacks were masterminded by irate transporters.
The incident happened on Saturday, October 31 and the two affected mosques are: Edem Road Central Mosque and Barracks Junction Mosque, both at Nsukka.
Muslim News investigations revealed that, while the Edem Road Central Mosque was burnt down, the Barracks Junction Mosque was demolished by the angry hoodlums, some of whom are members of Tricycle Operators Association, otherwise known as Keke Riders, in Nsukka.
This mosques was burnt down yesterday evening at Nsuka (barracks area)by some Igbo Christian men.
Government should interfere in this matter. Else we’ll start burning there churches here in the north😉. pic.twitter.com/7VhVsKeS3E
— M E S S I (@IBMaradun) November 1, 2020
Confirming the incident, Barrister Fauziyat Ida Idoko of Jaiz Foundation, said the destruction of the two mosques was as a result of the disagreement that ensued between a tricyclist (Keke rider) and his passenger who happened to be a Hausa Muslim lady.
Barrister Idoko wrote, “I was informed that what caused the violence was that a Hausa lady boarded a tricycle (keke) and the driver charged her 250 naira but she insisted she had only 150 naira and then she entered the Keke.
“On arrival at her destination (Barracks junction, Nsukka), She gave the rider 150 naira but he insisted that the fare was 250 naira. When she refused to pay the complete fare, the Keke rider seized her bag and in the process, one of her brothers came out to rescue her. The altercation between her brother and the rider suddenly turned to a fight and the rider was allegedly injured.”
Barrister Idoko, who is an indigene of Enugu, said the driver was reportedly rushed to the hospital, adding that, “The people escalated the news that the keke driver had died. But, news reaching us is that he is recuperating at Bishop Shanahan hospital, Nsukka.
“However, hoodlums took advantage of the scenario and started attacking Muslims around the town. They went to the mosque at old Barracks junction and destroyed it and then went to the Central Mosque, Edem road, Nsukka and set it ablaze.”
The learned Muslimah also noted that the number of casualties could not be ascertained as at the time she pushed out the report, adding however that most Muslims have scampered for safety in nearby towns.
“We cannot ascertain the number of casualties right now but most of the Muslims have fled their houses and sought refuge in various places within the town. Right now, some Muslims are in my house because of the fear of being attacked in their own houses.”
Also speaking with Muslim News, Alhaji Sani Mohammed Ugwuanyi, who is the Amir of the Muslim Community in Nsukka, Enugu north senatorial district which the current state Governor hails from, condemned the attacks on their mosques.
▪︎Nigerian Muslims demand Justice
Meanwhile, a large number of Nigerian Muslims have taken to various social media platforms to seek justice for their brethren who were murdered in some parts of South-South and South-East, Nigeria.
Dear Nigeria, Justice delayed is Justice denied. — Mustapha Mode Ambursa (@AmbursaMode) November 2, 2020.
The Muslims who took to social media however said human rights organisations have not given these ugly scenarios any mention in their advocacies despite how dastard they seem.
We seek justice, President @MBuhari. — Muhammad Sa’ad
They also accused media organisations of observing criminal silence on the killings, adding that, in the few cases they reported, the stories were slanted to suit their subjective narratives.
Muslim netizens have started demanding justice over what they called “callous murder of their brothers”, saying that Muslims are humans and have the right to live anywhere.
“We ran out of our own homes because of our own blood. My brothers are killing us because we differ in religion. This is very strange to me. #We seek for Justice,” a Twitter user, BossForTheBoys wrote.
“I guess it is now a crime to be a Muslim in the southeast of Nigeria. Meanwhile, Muslims are doing all they can to live peacefully with all the Igbos living in all the nooks and crannies of the north. Everyday is for the thief, but one day…” —@AltyNurah
Buttressing his point, HHMuhammad said, “Yes! We need justice nothing more #mbuhari. Muslims are humans and have the right to live!”
For his part, Tochukwu said indigenous Muslims in South-East are also victims of the attacks, as they are seen as Hausas because of their religious affiliation.
“It was my humble self that brought the case to this platform last night. Our own blood maimed and destroyed two of our mosques last night, right in our very eyes. Our offence is that we are MUSLIMS and to them, MUSLIMS ARE HAUSA.”
Mustapha Mode Ambursa pleaded with relevant authorities to swiftly investigate the killings, noting: “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
“When you set out to trend a crime against a group, approach it from a human angle instead of a sectional outage. #LekkiMassacre trended because it was framed as a crime against humanity. We must trend #OyingboMassacre as such, and share details of what transpired to get justice.” — Gimba Kakanda (@gimbakakanda) October 28, 2020
Abbas Dangi called out the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, urging him not to pass the 2021 budget until justice is served to the victims.
When we're done with the #LekkiMassacre reportage, let's investigate the killings of #Muslims in PH, Imo and destruction of their mosques. They're also Nigerians who were murdered during #EndSARS protests. We'll assist @CNN @BBCWorld @AJEnglish with evidence. #AllLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/XmjmqgoZz9
— Muslim News Nigeria (@muslimnews_NG) November 18, 2020
The speaker had promised not to pass the 2021 budget if justice is not done to the victims of Lekki shootings.
“Dear @femigbaja, how about not passing the 2021 budget until the affected people have been identified and fully compensated!” he wrote.
Chief Imam of Trailer Park Central Mosque, Shaykh Akilu, however, called on Muslims to be calm and remain law-abiding, saying that Islam is a religion of peace and does not allow reprisal, even though our properties have been destroyed.
Relative calm returns
Normalcy has since returned to the affected communities following the intervention of security agencies as at the time of filing this report on Wednesday, December 2, 2020.
The affected communities are demanding justice for the victims of these heinous crimes, hoping that the perpetrators would be brought to book. They also hope that the government would compensate those who lost property worth millions of naira during the carnage.
Speaking with Muslim News, Imam Akilu who spoke with our correspondent on Wednesday, a month after the attacks, said the situation has since been put under control and the Muslim community has moved on with their lives.
He however noted that he expected that the Rivers State government, for instance, would have compensated the Hausa/Muslims who were major victims of the attacks, just as they did to the policemen and military officers.
His words: “The update that we have now is that the situation has come back to normal and everybody has moved on. We have taken care of those that were injured during the attacks. And on the other hand, those whose situation are critical have been returned to the North for proper care.
“As far as Rivers state is concerned, we don’t have much problem, except that the government has not done what it ought to do. With the situation of things, I strongly believe that the state government should have showed us that they are indeed concerned with what happened to our people. You know they paid compensation to the policemen and military personnel, but refused to mention the Hausa/Muslim victims.
“Even the media kept mum as if nothing happened. As citizens, we feel the government has not done justice in this area. Alhamdulillah that your medium came to our rescue.”
Also in Nsukka, Enugu State, the Director, Islamic Centre, School of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Anofia, Afikpo, Ebonyi State, Mallam Isa Friday Okonkwo has also confirmed that the renovation of the burnt mosques, being financed by the State government, has begun.
Speaking with Muslim News, the former Director of Administration of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) said the renovation has commenced, adding that, “They initially wanted to pay lip services to it.”
Explaining further, he said, sometimes government will make promises like they did after the attack without fulfilling their promising
“About three years ago, one mosque in Nsukka was also burnt and the government went on air to announce the renovation plan, but they didn’t do anything about it till date. So when this one happened, we had to be serious about it. We took it up and eventually, the promise is being fulfilled now.
“The whole building was brought down, and they started all over again, from foundation. As we speak now (Wednesday, December 2), the work is ongoing.
All efforts to speak with the security agencies in the affected states proved abortive. For instance, Rivers State DSP, Mr. Omoni Nnamdi didn’t respond to our enquiries but noted that all affected persons should relate their ordeals with the judicial panel of inquiry set up by the state government on #EndSARS.
SUPPORT MUSLIM NEWS NIGERIA
With your generous financial contributions to MUSLIM NEWS, you are helping to sustain a culture of journalistic integrity that promotes tranquil Islamic values and ensures it remains free and available to all.