Reports of midnight attacks on Muslim and Christian worshippers in Ilorin, the Kwara State has been in the public domain in the last few days.
While the Muslims, the Kwara State Police Command and general public knew and spread the correct version of the incident, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Kwara State Branch, has continued to spread falsehood, blackmail and parochial information aimed at attracting sympathy for its members who were less affected compared to members of Quareeb Islamic Association who were terribly affected by the attack of the hoodlums who seized the opportunity of the New Year celebrations to wreck havoc on peace-loving worshippers - both Muslims and Christians.
While commending the Kwara State Police Command Command for swinging into action immediately to curb the activities of the hoodlums, the Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria condemn in unequivocal terms the Press Conference organised by CAN Kwara State Branch yesterday where the Association wrongly stated that the Christians were attacked by the Muslims.
In his briefing to the Press yesterday, Prof. Timothy Opoola the CAN Leader, mischievously attacked the Muslims claiming that Christians were attacked in their places of worship and that their female worshippers were raped! This is absolutely fallacious and totally untrue.
The Police that came to the rescue of members of the Quareeb Islamic Association that were similarly affected, has the detailed account of the incident in which several members of the Quareeb Group were injured when the hoodlums threw some explosive devices at them in their midnight Tahajud Prayers. It was the police rescue team that took several injured Muslims to the General Hospital Ilorin when the incident occurred.
It is on this basis that we call on Religious Leaders to stop fanning embers of religious hatred, disunity and confusion as exhibited by Kwara CAN. What happened was an insult and assault to both religious groups, the responsible action that should have been taken was for both CAN and Quareeb Leaders to jointly address a Press Conference to condemn the mayhem, commend the Police and to call on the State Government to firm-up arrangements of tight security during all festivals so as to protect innocent worshippers from irresponsible elements and miscreants.
What Kwara CAN did is, to say the least unpatriotic, irresponsible and condemnable. We should unite in fighting crimes instead of playing to the gallery and embarking on unholy blackmail of other religious adherents. In a mayhem that affected both sides that have been co-habiting peacefully, one should not 'jump-up sporadically' to wrongly accuse the other as the CAN has done... That is what is called mischief and CAN must stand clear of it.
We admonish our colleagues in the Media to exercise restraint by refraining to publish or report falsehood as may be exhibited by anyone or Group, no matter how big or famous.
We condemn outrightly THE PUNCH Newspaper of today Wednesday 3rd January 2018 in which it reports in its front-page banner headline: 'KWARA MAYHEM: CAN ACCUSES MUSLIMS OF ATTACKING, RAPING CHRISTIANS' with the main story on page 4. This is irresponsible journalism as the reporter himself knew very well that the information passed to him was not true. The reporter had benefitted from the credible Press Briefing of the Kwara State CP Lawal Ado, who gave a detailed factual account of what happened to the Press. Instead of descending so low to amplify the jaundiced, parochial and highly sentimental CAN's false report, he should have used his rational judgement to stand by the truth and report the truth only...His report, therefore, is unfortunate and irresponsible.
We wish to state that Muslims all over the world are law-abiding and would continue to uphold the teaching of the Holy Qur'an on freedom of worship and good neighbourliness to all. For example, the area in which the incident occurred ( Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Ilorin) is a place inhabiting both indigenes and non-indigenes who have been co-habiting peacefully with about 5 churches and several Mosques located there, where no attack of Christians was ever witnessed in spite of its being in the heart of the Islamic City of Ilorin.
We reiterate our objection to carnival events in Ilorin for whatever festival. The incident that occurred has further vindicated us that irresponsible elements gather to organise carnivals as they use it to perpetrate crimes.
We urgently call on the Police to quickly prosecute those arrested while the trial must be speedily concluded and the guilty punished to serve as deterrent to others.
Ibrahim Abdullahi, FCIPM
Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria (MMWG)
3rd January, 2017
15th R/Thani, 1439