The last may have not been heard of last Sunday’s arrest and detention of 486 northerners suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect by the army in Aba, Abia State as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), yesterday, lashed out at the Ja’amatu Nasril Islam (JNI), urging security agencies to disregard protests by the latter on the suspects while proper investigations are conducted as to the motive of the suspects, who claimed to be traders.
The JNI, led by His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, 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”.
However, a statement signed by the National Secretary of CAN, Rev. Musa Asake, yesterday, lambasted the JNI for claiming that those arrested are innocent Muslims, who were going about their normal businesses even as the Defence Headquarters confirmed that one of the wanted terror suspects was allegedly found to be among them.
Rev. Asake said JNI’s call for the suspects’ release was hasty and preposterous and therefore, asked the body 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!” CAN said.