By Taye Obateru, Sam Eyoboka, Emeka Mamah, Kingsley Omonobi & Olayinka Latona
OUTRAGED by the claim of a terrorist group that claimed responsiblity for the Jos mayhem, the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, headed by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, the Council of Ulama in Jos, the Ja’amatu Nasril Islam, JNI, and other Islamic groups in the country, yesterday, dismissed the group’s claim insisting that it was not only faceless but lacked any iota of credibility.
The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, also dismissed the group’s claim saying it was a dangerous dimension to the crisis in Jos.
The Islamic groups’ reactions came as fresh anxiety gripped residents of Jos when hundreds of youths protested the alleged shooting of two people in Kabong area by a soldier.
Some of the youths were said to have thrown missiles at the soldiers and abused them, in the process forcing the security men to shoot into the air to scare them. This resulted in commotion which threw some parts of the city into confusion.
CAN described the claim of responsibility to the Jos and Maiduguri bombings made by an Islamic group, Jama’tu Ahlus-Sannah Lidda’Awati Waljihad, as a dangerous dimension to the perennial sectarian crisis in the North, urging the Federal Government not to leave anything to chance.
CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, in an interview last night, acknowledged that the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar who is also the head of the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, and the Plateau State Commissioner of Police have dismissed the claim, insisting that the group was faceless and lacked any iota of credibility.
Oritsejafor who held a joint press conference with the Sultan in Lagos, said: “The Sultan told us that they have done their investigations and discovered that the address given by the group in Kano is non-existent and, therefore, should not be taken seriously.”
Noting that the Sultan, being the head of all Muslims in the country, was influential enough to have given such re-assuring words, Oritsejafor added, but “I think the security agencies in the country must still do a thorough investigation to unearth the veracity of the claim and if certain individuals are using that claim as a decoy to block investigations into the core matter; they should fish out such people.”
The CAN president expressed happiness that the two dominant religions in the country, Christianity and Islam, have openly acknowledged that the perennial Jos crisis was political with a heavy religious colouration, stating “that acknowledgment gladdens my heart because a problem identified is a problem half solved.”
Oritsejafor who stressed that the onus will now be on the security agents in the country join forces to arrest the growing trend of terrorism in any part of the country, said that there should be no sacred cows.
Also dismissing the claim, police authorities expressed doubts about such claims insisting that items recovered from the debris of the blasts were not those usually associated with the Boko Haram sect which has adopted a new name.
Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Abdulrahman Akano, who spoke to the media on the claim, noted that the Boko Haram sect has come to be identified with certain types of weapons and explosive devices with which they carried out attacks and mayhem in the past pointing out that so far, none of these known weapons or devices had been found in Jos.
Reminded that the group claimed responsibility through the internet just as the MEND did in the Abuja blasts of October 1, Akano said such claim cannot be foolproof because the internet is an open place that anybody can post any information into whether it is authentic or not.
A Police source in Abuja said: “What the CP on ground said is very correct. Anybody can post anything on the internet and from investigations so far, materials used for the bombs were not the usual items used by Boko Haram.”
Council of Ulama reacts
Also reacting to the claim of responsibility for the December 24 blasts by Jama’atu Ahlus_Sunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, spokesman of the Council of Ulama in the state, Mallam Sani Mudi, said the attack stands condemned and doubted the authenticity of the group.
He said in an interview: “I don’t think it is a credible group or that it has any link with any established Islamic organization either in Jos or in the country. I doubt very much. If what I read in the papers is exactly what they placed on the website, then the doubt is further justified. The opening sentence does not reflect something that is truly Islamic. The way they described Allah is not the way Muslims describe him in Islam.
“When we want to refer to Allah we say in the name of God the Beneficent, but they said in the name of God the mighty instead of in the name of God the Almighty. These are fundamental flaws that cannot be ignored.”
In his own response, the Chief Missioner of Al-Fatih-ul Qureeb Islamic Society of Nigeria, Alhaji Sulaimon Adamgba, also saw the latest twist as a very dangerous precedence that would further portray Nigeria as a terrorist nation.
He noted: “It is a very bad action. Islam is against the incessant killing of fellow human beings in any form. It is a religion of peace and has no room for violent termination of human lives. In short Islam condemns any state of insecurity in any nation. You are obligated to call a truce, if you are hurt by anybody’s action. So, we condemn the recent claim by an Islamic group that they planted the bombs in Jos and masterminded the attack in Maiduguri on Christmas eve in all its totality.
A statement in Kaduna by the JNI Secretary General, Dr. Khalid Aliyu Abubakar, said: “The JNI national headquarters under the leadership of His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar, hereby condemns in strong terms the ugly occurrence of crisis in Jos, Plateau State of Nigeria, after series of committed efforts to forestall peace and harmony in that state.
“We, therefore, call on the federal and state governments to fish out perpetrators of this heinous crime and bring them to justice. However, all means to restore normalcy should be put in place in order to guard against future occurrence. Finally, we call on Muslims to remain calm and continue to pray to Allah the Most High, for ease and relief to the victims of the crisis.”
However, Chairman of CAN, North Central Zone, Rev. Yakubu Pam viewed the matter differently noting that the claim of responsibility had confirmed speculations that the bombings was masterminded from outside.
He said: “We condemn such an organization wherever they came from. There had been speculations before now that it was Boko Haram that planned it and this (claim of responsibility) just goes to confirm that. We are aware that this thing came from outside even though there might be some people from within. They want Christians to fight Muslims and then the Muslims will fight back and the soldiers will come in and kill people from both sides. That is what they want. We condemn it in totality.”
Police to ascertain status of suspects
Meanwhile, the police are expected to ascertain whether the three suspects arrested in connection with the blasts are members of an Islamic group which has claimed responsibility for the attack. Capt. Charles Nweocha, Media Officer, Special Task Force on Jos crisis, said the three suspects, arrested at Giring (Abattoir) on Sunday, had been handed over to the police for further investigation.