By OKEY SAMPSON, Aba
Two Imams and five other members of the Muslim community in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, were in the wee hours of yesterday, arrested by soldiers over alleged suspected bombs.
According to the former Abia State Amirul-haj and deputy chairman of the Muslim community in Aba, Alhaji Musa Iheakaram, the soldiers, who he said, came in seven Hilux vans stormed the Aba Central Mosque on Mosque Street at about 2.00 am in search of bombs alleged to have been brought into the mosque.
Iheakaram said the invading soldiers after searching the mosque, arrested the Chief Imam, Alhaji Idris Bashir; his deputy, Mallam Bello Maija-a and a Youth Corps member serving in a school at the Mosque.
The soldiers, who came from yet-to-be-identified army barracks, Iheakaram stated, also raided the onions market at Uratta, a suburb of Aba, and after searching, picked up its chairman and the Secretary, Alhaji Ibrahim Bargi and Alhaji Sanni Jos respectively as well as Alhaji Inuwa Issa, chairman of Yam market, Ariaria Junction .
According to the former Amirul-haj, the soldiers also arrested the chairman of the Moslem community on Ikot Ekpene Road, simply known as Alhaji Issa Intersoft.
Alhaji Iheakaram’s words: “At about 2am, one of my brothers, Alhaji Bala Daura called to inform me about the raid by soldiers from yet-to-be-identified barracks, but before I could rush to the mosque, the soldiers had taken the Chief Imam, his deputy and a corps member away.
“They didn’t end at the Aba Central Mosque. Another information reaching me now is that they equally went to the onions market at Uratta market, searched everywhere in the mosque; they didn’t see that Imam. They took the phones of our brothers that were in that market at about 3a.m. after they left Aba Central Mosque and went away with the chairman of the onion market and his secretary.
“We also learnt that they went to the yam market, where they equally searched and were unable to get anything. They however, went away with the chairman of the yam sellers. The Sarki of Ogbor Hill was also picked by the soldiers when they carried out a similar operation in that zone.”
Iheakaram alleged that during the raid on the Central Mosque, the soldiers left with some bags containing chemicals used by students of the school within the Mosque for their practical studies.
He appealed to the military authorities to release those arrested unconditionally since according to him, nothing incriminating was found in the places searched.
The Muslim leader said they were yet to know where those arrested were taken to, as their members who went to various military formations in the state were not allowed to see anybody.
Efforts to reach the Public Relations Officer of the 14 Brigade of the Nigerian army, Ohafia and the Ngwa High School FOB Commander, for comments failed.