AFRICA/NIGERIA - The Bishop of Nsukka condemns the attack on a Mosque. Fears of independent reawakening

Friday, 22 September 2017 bishops   dialogue  

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "This unprecedented mindless destruction of a place of worship is not just abhorrent but totally unacceptable and should be condemned by all", is the strong condemnation expressed by His Exc. Mgr. Godfrey Onah, Bishop of Nsukka, with regards to the destruction and burning of the Mosque at Oguurute, in Enugu Ezike, in the State of Enugu, in southern Nigeria.
The incident happened on Saturday, 16th of September and Mgr. Onah was immediately informed and sent the Vicar to make an assessment of the situation and the next day Mgr. Onah paid a visit to the Mosque to express his solidarity to the local Imam.
"The Imam expressed his happiness with the Catholic Church because of the concern they have shown since the unfortunate incidence", said a statement from the diocese sent to Agenzia Fides. "The Bishop of Nsukka wishes to remind all, Christians and non-Christians alike that Nsukka region has been known for her peaceful coexistence with her neighbours.
We have a handful of the Muslim community in Enugu Ezike, Ibagwa Aka and never has it been known that any rancour existed between them and any other group. Hence, this unprecedented mindless destruction of a place of worship is not just abhorrent but totally unacceptable and should be condemned by all. Christian faith teaches us that we should love our neighbours as ourselves", said Mgr. Onah, who promised "that the Church will do whatever is within her power to ensure that the Muslims and the Christians will continue to live in peace".
The police authorities are inclined to believing it was an accidental fire, probably a short circuit. Initially, however, it was suspected that the fire had been set by activists of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the movement that claim the independence of Biafra, a region that includes the present southern states of Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra, Imo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Abia and Akwa Ibom. Some IPOB members have denied that their group is responsible for the incident, claiming that their fight is peaceful.
The episode, however, highlights the tensions in the area due to the activities of the IPOB, which yesterday, September 21, was decreed "illegal and terroristic" by the Supreme Court of Abuja.
The ruling, issued by Democratic Justice Minister Abubakar Malami submitted recently, forces "the end of any form of participation and support to the IPOB on behalf of other acronyms and individual citizens". The Nigerian government accuses the IPOB of receiving funding and support from foreign countries, such as France and Great Britain. In particular, the organization's financial base is located in Paris while the propaganda drive in London.
The sad story of the Biafra war (1967-1970) is still alive in the memory of the Nigerian Federation. The conflict for the secession of the south-east of the Country, rich in oil resources, caused more than a million deaths, due to the blockade of food supplies imposed by the Nigerian central government. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 22/9/2017)