By Sam Eyoboka
THE Tuesday arrest and detention of 486 northern Muslims suspected to be Boko Haram sect members by the army in Aba, Abia State has continued to elicit reactions as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), yesterday, lashed out at the Ja’amatu Nasril Islam (JNI), urging security agencies to disregard protests on the suspects and properly investigate the matter.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III-led Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), had, on Wednesday, condemned the arrest, saying it was a crackdown on innocent Muslims and called for the suspects immediate release.
JNI’s Secretary General, Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, said, in a statement: “Jolted by the arrest of 486 passengers near Aba, Abia State, by the Nigerian Army of the 144 Battalion, the JNI is very much worried and deeply concerned over this repeated crackdown on innocent Muslims in the name of Boko Haram”.
A statement signed by the National Secretary of CAN, Rev. Musa Asake, yesterday, condemned the claim by JNI that the arrested Muslims are innocent and that they were going about their normal businesses while one of the wanted terror suspects was allegedly found to be among them, saying the claim is hasty and preposterous. The statement asked JNI to hands off security matters..
“This bellicose attitude of the JNI each time matters of national security involving Muslims are being handled by security agencies on account of their misdeeds, and often keeps quiet while Christians are being killed and their churches are burnt or destroyed does not help”, the statement said.
It went on: “JNI claims that the suspects are Muslims who go about their lawful businesses in their own country. Yet, the JNI did not show us the portion of the constitution of Boko Haram that forbids traders from joining the terror group. Let the JNI tell us the livelihood of members of Boko Haram, since it seems to have very deep information about the characters, constituents and operational limit of Boko Haram.
”We condemn this bellicose attitude of the JNI each time matters of national security involving Muslims are being handled by security agencies on account of their misdeeds. We hate to believe that JNI has a hand in some of this security threats to the nation. Or how else can we explain a situation where it is squealing while investigations, which alleged that a suspected top commander of Boko Haram was among the 486 suspects arrested, are yet to be concluded? The claim by JNI that the arrested Muslims are innocent and that they were going about their normal businesses, when one of the wanted terror suspects was found to be among them, is hasty and preposterous. This is not only misleading, it is a mischievous attempt to cover up.
“There are questions the JNI must answer, failing which they should keep quiet the same way as they have always done when Christians are being killed and their churches burnt by Muslims.
How can 486 traders be travelling in a convoy of 35 Hiace Hummer buses at 2.00 a.m.? What kind of businesses are 486 traders going to ply in Port Harcourt in such a convoy?
486 Muslim traders all from one part of the Muslim troubled North emptying into Port Harcourt in a stealthy manner, under the cover of night!”