Inside Ebonyi group the place Islam thrives •Why we embraced Islam -Residents twentieth May 2021 From Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki Enohia Itim in Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State is the group with the best variety of Muslims in all the South East. In addition to having three practical mosques, the group additionally hosts probably the most vibrant Muslim faculties in Africa. The college is called Centre for Islamic and Arabic Studies, Enohia Afikpo. It trains Muslim devoted in main and secondary training. Apart from main emphasis on Islamic and Arabic research, the college, like every other college, participates within the West African Examination Council (WAEC), National Examination Council (NECO) and different exterior examinations yearly. Daily Sun gathered that many Muslim households from totally different components of the nation want to ship their kids to the Afikpo Muslim School due to its popularity as top-of-the-line Islamic faculties in Africa. History of the college￼ The Centre for Islamic and Arabic Studies was based in 1958 by a son of the group, Sheik Ibraham Okpani Nwagui. He was mentioned to have based the centre upon his return from Senegal, the place he embraced Islam. A member of the group, Hassan Uron, informed Daily Sun that Nwagui embraced Islam in 1952 when he met a well-known Muslim chief in Kaolack, Senegal, often known as Sheik Ibrahim Nyias, whom he served for about 5 years earlier than he returned to Nigeria. He was mentioned to have died in his resort room in Owerri in 1976, weeks after his appointment as Commissioner for Urban Development within the then Imo State Government. The dying of Okpani affected the expansion of the centre. It was gathered that the place remained redundant till 1981 when the Muslim World League got here and took over the funding and administration of the college, following an enchantment made to them by members of the group. Why group embraced Islam Furthermore, Hassan, who mentioned that he labored within the college for over 34 years earlier than he retired in December 2018, defined that all the Ehohia Itim was a whole Christian space, till the yr 1958 when Nwagui Okpani, as he was known as, returned from Senegal and began preaching a few new faith, Islam. He defined that, due to Nwagui’s love for his individuals and his seen ardour for serving to the poor, the group met and reached a decision to hitch him in his faith, which he mentioned preached love, peace, unity and progress of each other. “When he returned to Nigeria, Enohia Itim in particular, he started preaching Islam. Because he was a good man, our people loved him and believed in him. They met and reached a resolution to join him in Islam. After some time, the community gave him a portion of land to build an Islamic centre. He converted many of our people and established School of Islamic and Arabic Studies to teach our people and others the true meaning and benefits of Islam,” he mentioned. Civil warfare setback for Islam But for the Nigeria civil warfare, which broke out in 1967, Islam would have thrived above Christianity locally and penetrated many components of Ebonyi State and Igboland past what it’s in the present day. It was gathered that the flip of the civil warfare, which noticed the killing of many voters of the defunct Biafra Republic, made many Muslims in Afikpo to denounce the faith due to their perception that the killings had been completed by northerners, most of whom had been Muslims. Hassan mentioned: “After the war, some members of the community who were Muslims denounced Islam because of the way Biafrans were killed. They could not separate Islam from the northern people. But some people refused to denounce despite serious pressure to do so within and outside the community. Before the war, Islam was the main thing here and people were embracing it, but the war came and changed the whole thing. We have about 42 churches in Enohia Itim and only three mosques. “But the most important is that we have been living in peace since that time till now without any form of clash because Islam preaches peace and love for one another. At times, it is even us Muslims that help Christians to settle their differences when they have problems.” School faces existential threats However, the Centre for Islamic and Arabic Studies, Afikpo, is dealing with severe threats that, if not effectively managed, might see to the everlasting closure or relocation of the college from the realm. Daily Sun was informed that hoodlums believed to be pro-Biafran teams, have been threatening to assault the college. They alleged that the establishment was getting used to provide harmful weapons and to cover Fulani herdsmen, amongst different allegations. But the director of the college, Sheik Isa Okonkwo, from Enugu State, dismissed the allegations as false, solely supposed to present the centre dangerous title so as to destroy it. He mentioned these peddling the falsehood had been enemies of Islam and other people of Afikpo, including that the evil propaganda first began in 2005 when suspected members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) attacked the place utilizing improvised explosive units. Sheik Okonkwo, who spoke throughout an inspection tour of amenities within the college on Monday, May 10, 2021, by stakeholders and other people of the group, famous that the college had existed in Afikpo for over 4 many years with out inflicting any hassle locally. He mentioned, as an alternative, the centre has helped to coach many little children of the group who’re doing nice in several areas of life. Addressing the individuals of Afikpo on the premises of the Islamic Centre, he mentioned: “I was raised and brought up in this land. My coming back here to head this school is a wonderful homecoming. You have touched lives; this community has touched lives and you can never be forgotten in the history of man. You don’t know the length and breadth of where your touches have reached. “We are here today because of some ill feelings that brought about some allegations that have been going on now for a period of time. And I call it a tactic used when you want to hang a dog, you give it a bad name. This Islamic school has existed here for a period of 40 years, 40 glorious years. Great men and women have been produced in the course of these years and it has been a very robust relationship with the entire Afikpo clan and particularly Enohia community. But in 2005, something strange and unlike Afikpo happened here in the Islamic Centre; MASSOB attacked this centre that year. They came very early in the morning when people were praying in the mosque. They tried to explode about 13 bombs here in the centre but only three managed to explode with very minimal damage. It took the community by surprised as they were not expecting such. After a very serious investigation, it was discovered the attackers came from outside and no one from this community was part of it. In 2017, IPOB came out, they marked 26 of us from South East for assassination, for no other reason but because we are Muslims. They published our names, phone numbers and states of origin. They call us almost every day threatening us. Out of the 26 persons about seven are from Afikpo. Sadly, after EndSARS protest, the threat continued in a higher tempo; they were sending us text messages that they were coming to bomb this centre. Now, there is a video trending that they are coming to bomb the centre because, according to them, we are producing dangerous weapons here for herdsmen.” He added that the essence of the invitation to stakeholders and journalists for the tour was “to probe us and inspect our facilities to see if there is anything harmful we are doing here. If you have anything bad here, we will leave.” ‘Attack on centre is attack on Afikpo’ After inspecting the centre, members of the group appealed to members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to discontinue their alleged plot to assault the Centre, stressing that there was nothing evil happening there. Traditional ruler of the group, Eze Boniface Oti and the youth President of Enohia Itim, Uro Akpu, who spoke on behalf of the individuals of the realm, mentioned the power belonged to the group, stressing that it was constructed by their son for the group. Eze Boniface famous that the Centre had been of nice profit to the group when it comes to training, empowerment and group growth. He mentioned: “The stories flying around that this Centre is producing dangerous weapons or housing Fulani herdsmen is false. This Centre has been here for decades and our sons and daughters have passed through this school. It is our property and the people working there are Afikpo people and Igbo people. We are saying any attack on the Centre is attack on Afikpo people.” The youth chief spoke in the identical vein, interesting that the purported assault will probably be counterproductive. “I am a Christian, a deacon for that matter. This school didn’t just start. We grew up to meet this school and many of our people graduated from here. We have lived with the Centre for years without any problem at all. It bothers us how outsiders who are obviously not happy that the school is here will be making unfounded remarks about the school. If there is anything bad about the school, Afikpo youths can never keep quiet. The school is in our community and we are using this opportunity to say it again that there is nothing wrong with the school. Any attack on the school is an attack on our community”, Akpu said. Afikpo stakeholders sue for peace Meanwhile, conventional rulers, clerics and different stakeholders of Old Afikpo block in Ebonyi State, comprising Afikpo North and Afikpo South native authorities areas of Ebonyi State have sued for peaceable coexistence within the space. In a communiqué after a city corridor assembly with Governor Daivd Umahi in Abakaliki, just lately, they expressed perception in upholding the elemental human rights of all residents as enshrined within the Constitution with emphasis on freedom of faith, proper to freedom of motion together with freedom of settlement by any Nigerian in any a part of the State. Chairman of Ebonyi State Universal Basic Education Board (EBSUEEB), Chief Hyacinth Ikpo, who learn the communique mentioned: “We also believe that the same freedom should also provide for the right of movement and religion of any Ebonyi indigenes in any part of Nigeria, in the spirit of harmony, mutual respect and peaceful coexistence. “We encourage our people to resist the urge to be lured into causing unrest, unleashing turmoil and setting Ebonyi State ablaze by the prittle-prattle of a stranger in a strange land, by the casuistry of historical revisionists, idle demagogues and peddlers of myth and cargo-cult mentality”.