Concerned by the recent arrests targeting northern Nigerians, analysts and Muslim leaders have warned that the security agencies moves in Nigeria’s south were threatening radicalizing more northern young Muslims who reject ethnic profiling.
“The current trend is very dangerous,” Moses Olayiwola, a retired senior Naval officer, told OnIslam.net.
“We should not create an impression that every Hausa-Fulani person is a potential “The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad better known by its Hausa name Boko Haram which means(Western education is sinful) “. That in itself defeats the fight against extremism because we would be radicalizing many people who are otherwise peaceful.”
Police in Nigeria’s oil rich Rivers state recently arrested 320 mainly northerners believed to have links with Boko Haram, the extremist sect blamed for the insurgency in the country’s northeastern region.
Also, about 18 young men attending a vocational school in southeastern Imo state were reportedly deported back to Katsina, their state of origin, in Nigeria’s northwest.
Both incidents sparked outrage in the North and in the country’s Parliament. Police later released the 320 suspects except 19 of them still “being interrogated”.
Olayiwola warned that the new unjustified arrests threatened a looming ethno-religious war in the western African country.
“Such altitude may result in a tit-for-tat with grave consequences for the southerners residing in the north,” he said.
“The greatest worry is for this not to result in ethno-religious war in the country.”
Sulaiman Alamutu, a prominent chieftain of the Muslim Society of Nigeria and a public analyst, said the incident portends grave danger for the country especially if the Northern government considers a retaliation.
“The case in Imo is unfortunate because if the government in the native states of those youths decide to do same, then we will have problem in this country,” Alamutu told OnIslam.net.
“A lot of Igbos live in the north, in fact you have more of southerners living in the north than northerners in the south. So, the action of the Imo state government does not help national integration. It will further deepen the growing enmity among various ethnic nationalities in the country,” he added.
“The whole scenario may look like an ethnic profiling in the sense that only a particular ethnic group is being targeted for this action. Such should not be happening, especially at this time that the country is struggling to sustain its unity.”