AHEAD of 2023 general elections, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Saturday, decried that the rapidity of allegations about Igbo hating the North is becoming redoubtable and alarming.
Ohanaeze which was reacting in statement to a media report by South East Muslim Organization of Nigeria (SEMON) and Igbo Muslim Forum alleging the killing of Igbo Muslims in Igbo land, said such unfounded and persistent allegation was suggestive of a clandestine gang up to discredit and make Igbo unacceptable to the North in the build up to the 2023 presidential election.
The statement President General of Ohanaeze, Chief Nnia Nwodo issued through his Media Adviser, Chief Emeka Attamah, said Ohanaeze finds ceaseless insinuations that the Igbo are against Muslims or the North very worrisome because of their grave socio-cultural and religious implications for the nation.
The statement partly read, “first it was Northern Elders Forum (NEF) in their unguarded and spurious gaffe which happily has been debunked by majority of Northern Leaders as an unbecoming and untrue statement.
“This time, SEMON is saying that Muslims and mosques were deliberately targeted by the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), especially during the #ENDSARS protest.
“The truth is that there has never been any report of even harassment let alone killing of any Muslim made to any group or government. No such report has ever been received,” it said.
The statement added, “the Igbo are law abiding and recognize and respect the freedom of religion enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.
“It is interesting that in the very words of the claimants; “Islam has existed in Igbo land since the early 19th century it just appeared in the region. It has peacefully been propagated and boasts of occupying the second largest and widely accepted religion in the present Ala- Igbo.
“From inception till date, Islam and Muslims of Ala-Igbo have maintained peaceful co-existence and its presence has not endangered the well being of Ndigbo”.
Ohanaeze however, queried when did Ndigbo become intolerant of Muslims in their midst.
It said that the allegation of two mosques being destroyed at Nsukka as cited in the report was totally lies, explained that there was an altercation that led to the incident which was not religious intolerance or aggression and had since been resolved.
“This situation is unfortunate considering the sacrifices Ndigbo have made and are still making for the development and unity of the country.
Ndigbo cannot antagonize anybody from any part of the country knowing full well that they are more itenerant and settle in all parts of the country than any other ethnic group.
“Evidently, there is a vicious and subterranean plan to scuttle the current momentum that the quest for a president of Igbo extraction is fast gaining.”
The Organisation described as sad and regrettable that the North which had always been a political ally of the East was being used to fan this ember of hatred for Ndigbo.
It maintained, “just like the first smear campaign by the Prof. Ango Abdullahi group backfired, the current one will also be unmasked as an empty ploy to sabotage the interest of the Igbo.
“If not, let them adduce evidences of their claim.
Ndigbo have always been hospitable and accommodating hosts to their visitors and cannot change overnight.”
Ohanaeze noted that Ndigbo recognised the inevitability and political sagacity of building bridges for the attainment of their national political ambitions.