Soldiers on Monday arrested the chief Imam of Aba Central mosques in Abia State, Alhaji Bashir Idris, and two teachers of the New Horizon Academy, a school attached to the Mosque over alleged discovery of substances suspected to be chemicals in the school.
It was gathered that the two teachers detained by the security operatives are the school Director/Chemistry teacher, Abdulraham Sani, as well as Principal/English teacher, Abdulmajid Abubakar.
A source close to the Hausa quarters at Mosque Street, Aba told our correspondent that 13 out 15 persons, including the Chief Imam, “who were arrested during a military raid on various mosques in the early hours of Monday in the city have been released.”
It was gathered that 13 out of the 15 suspects were said to have been released same day after several hours of interrogation at the 144 Battalion, Asa in Ukwa West Local Government Area headquarters of the state.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after his release, the chief Imam, said that the soldiers told them they came for the raid over suspected bombs and weapons allegedly being stored at various Mosques in the city.
He said, “The soldiers took us to the Army base at Ngwa Road, Aba before moving us to 144 Battalion at Asa where they interrogated us.”
“They said that they were looking for bombs and some weapons which they said we are sharing.
The Muslim cleric, appealed to government and security agencies to stop harassing the Hausa community in parts of southeast region.
“We should be given the chance to live. We don’t keep or manufacture bombs and do not support or encourage any person to make or keep bombs, Mosque is a holy place where we all gather to pray.”
According to him, “We have been living peacefully with Aba residents and will not be part of any plan to cause insecurity in Aba where we all do our lawful businesses.”
The Chief Imam, therefore, called on the soldiers to release Sani and Abubakar, whom he said, are in charge of the school as they are innocent.
Meanwhile, our correspondent reliably gathered that the Chief Imam has been re-invited by the soldiers for further questioning.
An Islamic cleric who does not want his name to be mentioned disclosed that the heavily armed soldiers again returned to the mosque in two Hilux vehicles and invited the Chief Imam to the Army Unit.
Reacting to the Chief Imam’s re-invitation, former Amirul Hajj of Abia State, Alhaji Musa Iheakaram, confirmed that soldiers visited the Aba Central Mosque where they took some photographs and later invited the chief Imam to their base.
“It is true that the school is under the Muslim community, but the school itself does not belong to the Imams.
“It is duly registered with the Abia State Government and also run according to the academic curriculum and education system of the state being used to teach in other schools in the state.
“If the soldiers want to get any information about the school, they should ask the school director and the principal who are already with them and are better placed to provide them with the needed information about the school, not inviting the Chief Imam who is not in charge of the school,” he sated
“Let them check other Chemistry and Physics laboratories in other secondary schools in the state and see if the chemicals they use for practical are different from the one found at the school, then they can go ahead and do what they like, but if they are the same, they should allow the teachers to go hence they did not find anything incriminating on them.”
He said “Our Muslim brothers have started leaving the state en mass because of the way they now being treated in the last two weeks and this calls for serious concern,” the Islamic scholar declared.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police yesterday said that following the massive onslaught by security forces on the activities of the insurgent group, Boko Haram, at the Balmo Forest in Bauchi State, detectives attached to Bauchi State Police Command on Saturday arrested one Mohammed Zakari, a 30-year old man and senior member of the Boko Haram terrorists’ organization along Darazo-Basrika Road while fleeing from the intensive counter insurgency operations going on around the Balmo Forest.
In a statement by Force spokesperson, Frank Mba, said the suspect, who hails from Kaigamari Village, Daptchari in Darazo Local Government Area, Bauchi State is the self-styled “chief butcher” of the insurgent group at the Balmo Forest Camp, linked with the recent slaughter of seven people, including women and children.
Findings as well as disclosures from the suspect will assist the law enforcement agencies in tracking down some other members of the terror cell.
Mba, an assistant commissioner of police said in the statement that investigation revealed that the suspect was tutored in the art of insurgency at Gombe Forest under the leadership of fleeing insurgent, Abba Taura and moved to Balmo Forest only three months ago.
Zakari actively participated in the April attack against Customs officers at Kari Town, along Maiduguri Road, Bauchi State.
The Police High Command therefore called on the citizens in the affected areas to be on guard for any suspicious or strange character fleeing from Balmo Forest.
The Police also called for the understanding and support of the public. Mba stated the efforts of the police and other security forces in tackling insurgency, terrorism and other related crimes headlong.
Obasanjo, Abdulsalami, Sultan, Others Brainstorm On Insecurity
Rising insecurity and agitations for secession by different ethnic groups across Nigeria has attracted the attention of elder statesmen and other national leaders to a meeting in Abuja.
The meeting was organised by Interfaith Initiatives for Peace jointly led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and the National Peace Committee chaired by Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).
Reporters were barred from taking part in the closed-door meeting, expected to proffer solutions to the ongoing security challenges threatening the peace and unity of the country.
It was also an exploratory meeting on pressing issues of national unity, security, peace, integration, economic revitalisation and development, women and youth welfare and general progress.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd); Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Tor Tiv, Prof Ortese Iorzua James Ayatse, Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan; President General (Ohanaeze Ndigbo), Prof George Obiozor; and Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo; were all in attendance.
Others sighted at the meeting are President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba; CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola; JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede; Etsu Nupe, Yahya Abubakar; former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, among several political and traditional rulers at the meeting.
Elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark, also attended the event at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, but could not participate in the meeting because he could not climb the staircase to the meeting room.
Fighting Corruption Difficult In Democratic Setting, Buhari Laments
President Muhammadu Buhari says fighting corruption in democratic setting is a difficult task to accomplish.
The president disclosed this during an interview with Arise Television which was televised, yesterday.
According to him, the war against corruption has not been easy for him since he became a democratically elected president six years ago.
He, however, stressed that his administration had succeeded in easing out corrupt public officials without making noise about it.
Buhari recalled that much was achieved in the fight against corruption when he was military Head of State in the early 80s “when a lot of people were sent to prisons before I was also booted out”.
The president frowned at the way and manner local government system was being managed, saying the local government administration was almost non-existent in the country.
He cited situation where state governors continued to starve the local governments of funds saying “in a situation where N300million is allocated to local government and they are given N100million is not fair”.
On activities of bandits and kidnappers particularly in the North-West and North-Central zones, Buhari said he had given the police and Armed Forces the instructions to be ruthless with bandits and vandals terrorising innocent citizens across the country.
He stated that he had told the security agencies to treat bandits and other criminals in the “the language they understand.
“Problem in the north-west; you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages.
“Like I said, we are going to treat them in the language they understand.
“We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be difference.
”Because we told them if we keep people away from their farm, we are going to starve. And the government can’t control the public.
“If you allow hunger, the government is going to be in trouble and we don’t want to be in trouble.
“We are already in enough trouble. So, we warn them sooner than later you’ll see the difference,’’ he said.
On farmers/herders clashes, the president said the problem had persisted because old cattle routes and grazing areas had been violated by development, adding that those who had taken over such traditional arrangements would be dispossessed.
On the fight against insurgency, Buhari dismissed the assertion that majority of Boko Haram members were foreigners.
According to him, the majority of the Boko Haram members are Nigerians, saying this was further corroborated by Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum.
The president stated that his administration had done a lot to fight the terrorists and insurgents but the problem in the “North-East is very difficult.”
Igboho Declares June 12 Day Of Protest, Warns Buhari
Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has declared June 12 as day of protest for Yoruba nation agitators.
The self-acclaimed Yoruba activist said the agitators will hold ‘peaceful rallies’ across the South-West region on Saturday, June 12.
Igboho, who spoke through his spokesman, Olayomi Koiki, in a live video programme aired, last Wednesday night, called on South-West governors to cooperate with the peaceful protesters during the exercise.
He warned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration not to attack the agitators.
He said, “Let us warn the Federal Government that if there is bloodshed this weekend, the international community is watching, if the military kills any Nigerian this weekend, it is going to be very hot.
“The Yoruba nation rally will go ahead in every part of Yoruba land and the rest of the country where it will hold.
“Red alarm will begin on Friday. People should stock up food Items from Friday night.
“We are not backing down this weekend; we are ready to take back what belongs to us.”
He also enjoined agitators to ‘fast’ on Friday.
This is coming after NANS under the leadership of its National President, Comrade Sunday Asefon, had declared June 12 as National Day of peaceful protest to call on the government to act decisively towards addressing insecurity.
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