By Akeem Alao Babatunde
For almost two weeks now, members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) group have reportedly subjected the Muslim minority in the south eastern part of Nigeria — Enugu, Onitsha, Nsukka, Orlu — to untold hardship, gruesome violence. Unfortunately, no single mainstream media bothered to report this disastrous situation.
Orlu, one of the affected regions, is the second largest city in Imo State, southeast Nigeria. Muslims in this region are facing serious persecution because they exercise their freedom to practice the religion of their choice.
Unfortunately, media outlets in the country see no sanity in reporting the gruesome killings of the Igbo Muslims. Most of these media outlets are notable for hiding cases of violence against the Muslims and covering unverified reports that could damage Islam within and outside the country.
Igbo Muslims, who suffer and die in silence, are mostly disdained because they are regarded as the enemies within. To the easterners, it is an aberration for the Igbo to practice Islam. Should a retaliatory attack begin, Nigerian journalists will make disturbing news out of it and exaggerate their reports.
Isn’t that the type of journalism that’s being practiced in this part of the world?
The indifference is just too disturbing. They feign ignorance that mosques were imolated, and that Muslims were brutally murdered!
The violence against this category of Muslims is not given a nationwide reportage to draw sympathies from well-meaning Nigerians. In Nigeria, journalism is never a service to humanity; it is a tool that’s used to promote tribalism, religious bigotry and nepotism.
In the past two weeks, many Igbo Muslims have died. Several of them have been severely injured. Mosques have been in flames since the inception of the ongoing violence. Yet, the leaders in the region do not deem it necessary to address the situation. Perhaps we can logically conclude that they too are in support of this Muslim massacre.
On Saturday October 31, 2020, another violent attack was reported by Barrister Fauziyat Ida Idoko of Jaiz Foundation, who lost her father some weeks ago. According to her, the violence was caused by a Hausa lady who boarded a tricycle but failed to pay the agreed fare to the driver.
She said the tricyclist charged the sum of 250 naira but the Hausa lady insisted that she only had 150 naira for the destination. On getting to her destination (Barracks junction, Nsukka), She gave the tryclist 150 naira, which he rejected. An argument ensued. The tricyclist seized the lady’s bag and in the process, one of the lady’s brothers who appeared to rescue her, fought the tryclist and inflicted injury on him in the process.
He was rushed to hospital. A few moments later, fake news, reporting the death of the tricyclist began to drop. This was the evil machinations of fake news carriers to worsen the situation. It was later reported that the tricyclist was responding to treatment at Bishop Shanahan hospital, Nsukka.
“However, hoodlums took the advantage of the scenario and started attacking the Muslims around the town.
“They went to the mosque at old Barracks junction and destroyed it and then went to the Central Mosque Eden road, Nsukka and set it ablaze,” she said.
“We cannot ascertain the number of casualties right now but most of the Muslims have fled from their houses and seeking refuge in various places within the town.
“Right now, some Muslims are in my house because of fear of being attacked in their own houses.
“This unfortunate incident is happening just barely two weeks after my father’s demise. May Allah protect us from all evil,” she narrated.
Imagine that the eyewitness narration of the above incident never made it to the headlines of any of national dailies. This is the conspiracy that reigns among Nigerian journalists. When Muslims are the victims, it does not matter; it never calls for attention. They practice journalists to promote defend the Christians and promote Christianity — evangelism.
It is unfortunate that the authorities are silent about it. The Igbo communities are yet to condemn the wanton destruction of lives and properties.
What have the police done to arrest this situation? It is the statutory responsibility of the Inspector General of Police to order the state police commissioners to restore peace in the affected regions.
Muslims can’t afford to continue living in fear in their homeland. Urgent steps have to be taken to normalize this situation.
And lest I forget, justice must be served. Don’t only #EndSARS and police brutality; end injustice, discrimination and oppression of Muslim minority in the south-eastern Nigeria.