The Catholic Diocese of Nsukka, Enugu State, has described as condemnable the recent alleged burning of the Central Mosque at Ogurute, Enugu Ezike.
In a statement by its press secretary, Ernest Makata, on Tuesday, the Diocese condemned the action, calling those responsible, agents of the devil.
The statement said that the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese, Godfrey Onah, had paid a visit to the Mosque where he condoled with the imam and reminded “all our 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 some other communities 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.
“We also appeal to the Moslem leaders to calm their adherents and see what has happened as an act designed to instigate violence and disrupt the peace we have all enjoyed”, the statement read in part.
However, the spokesperson of the Enugu Police Command, Ebere Amaraizu, said contrary to claims, a preliminary investigation showed that power surge was responsible for the inferno.
According to Mr. Amaraizu, “the issue is that there was an incident and that incident involved inferno.”
Reactions have continued to trail the reported burning of the mosque at Ogrute last weekend.
On its part, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB through its spokesman, Emma Powerful, dissociated the group from the incident “and any other concocted news of an attack or vandalism, especially on Muslims and their places of worship.
“We wish to further state unequivocally that Muslims and other non-Biafrans living in South-east and South-south have nothing to fear from IPOB, as our members are committed to a non-violent, unarmed struggle for self-determination, which is guaranteed in charters of the United Nations, international laws and other extant laws on fundamental human rights.”
The lawyer representing the leader of the IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, also confirmed the position of the group.
In a phone chat with PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday, the lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor said the group is unconnected with the incident.
He urged Northerners and Southerners living in the South-east to remain calm as the group is using a non-violent approach towards its struggle for self-determination.
Below is the full text of the Statement by the Nsukka Catholic Diocese.
We all must have heard about the unfortunate, irresponsible and condemnable acts of, yet to be identified, agents of the devil who burnt down the central mosque at Ogurute, Enugu Ezike. It was on Saturday, the 16th of September that the Parish Priest of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Enugu Ezike informed the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka that a Mosque was burnt down within his parish.The Bishop, who was away at the time, immediately sent the Dean of the Deanery, Rev. Fr. Fred Agu to make an immediate assessment of the situation and report back to the Secretariat.
Upon his return, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Nsukka, Most Rev. Prof. Godfrey Onah, paid a visit to the Mosque and the Imam the next day, being Sunday, 17th September 2017.The Imam of the Mosque while meeting with the Bishop stated that the attack came to him as a shock because the Muslim community has been living in peace with their neighbours, who are also their brothers and sisters.
He expressed his happiness with the Catholic Church in the Diocese because of the concern they have shown since the unfortunate incidence. While suspicions pander from left to right, the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka wishes to remind all Our 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, IbagwaAka and some other communities 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.Our Christian faith teaches us that we should love our neighbours as ourselves (Mk. 12:31).
Therefore, do unto others as you would have them do to you (Lk.6:31).None of us would like to witness this kind of carnage on our Churches or Shrines. In this wise, we cannot allow such to happen to a Mosque either.The Bishop hence appeals for caution from all individuals and groups and think about the actual and ripple effects of any action we undertake. Nsukka zone is known for her peaceful and harmonious existence.
Therefore, no individual or group of persons should even think of destroying this legacy.The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Prof Godfrey Igwbuike Onah, while sympathizing with the Muslim community at Ogurute and the entire nation, assures them of the support of the Catholic Church in the diocese. He promises that the Church will do whatever is within her power to ensure that the Moslems and the Christians will continue to live in peace.
Moslems are encouraged to see the Church as partners in these trying times and socio-political upheavals in our clime.He also appeals to the Moslem leaders to calm their adherents and see what has happened as an act designed to instigate violence and disrupt the peace we have all enjoyed.
If we respond to violence, we must have given them victory. The only way to make them feel ashamed of themselves is to plant love and good where they plant hate and evil.Let all Christians, Muslims and African Traditional Religionists join hands to maintain peace and order and hold on to the highest tenets of our religions which is hinged on love for one another.Signed
Rev. Fr. Ernest Makata, Press Secretary to the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese.