By Leo Okachie/Ihechi Chigemeri-Uwom
The Chief Imam of Umuahia Central Mosque, Alhaji Bako Hamza-Goni, has called for unity and peaceful co-existence among Nigerians, irrespective of their ethno-religious and political affiliations.
Hamza-Goni made the call on Friday in Umuahia, during the Eid prayers organised by the Muslim community to mark this year’s Sallah celebration.
He described peace as a necessary requirement for development, saying that it was a collective responsibility of all Nigerians to promote peace and shun divisive tendencies.
The cleric therefore urged Nigerians to embrace peace and avoid acts of violence in the overall interest of the nation.
He lauded the state government and security agencies for the prevailing peace and security in Abia and charged the residents to complement government’s effort by being law abiding.
In an interview with newsmen, Alhaji Yaro Danladi, the Chairman of South-South and South-East Northern Traditional Rulers, appealed to the Federal Government to urgently deal with the current insecurity in different parts of the country.
Danladi urged the Hausa communities in the two geo-political zones to maintain cordial relationship with their host communities.
Alhaji Suleiman Ukandu, the Chairman of Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Abia, said that the celebration was centered on developing faith and trust in God.
Ukandu said: “The message has always been adhering strictly to the tenets of Islam, so we have a duty to ensure there is peace, unity and social justice in Nigeria.”
He urged the people of Abia to adhere to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) safety protocols for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 in the area.
Meanwhile, the Imam of the Yoruba Central Mosque, Umuahia, Misbaudeen Raji, also urged the Muslim faithful to intensify their prayers for Allah’s mercy and intervention, “now that Nigeria is going through a trying moment”.
Raji gave the charge in a sermon during the Eid celebration by the Yoruba community in Abia.
He admonished the people to be patient in the face of the hardship occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic.
He urged them to take the hardship as a trial of their faith in Allah, saying that the situation would soon pass away.
“People complain that there is no money for this year’s celebration. Money is not important, what is important is your life.
“What we experienced during the lockdown is a trial for those who are faithful to Allah. It calls for patience,” the cleric said.
He attributed the security challenges in most parts of the country to the citizens’ disobedience to God’s injunctions.
According to him, Nigeria will enjoy peace and stability the moment the citizens begin to follow the rules of Allah.
In separate interviews, some of the worshippers thanked God for life, in spite of the numerous challenges that made this year’s festivity lowkey.
Mr Sulaimon Olanrewaju said, “This year’s celebration will be lowkey because of what we have exprienced.
“There is so much hardship but in all situations, we thank God,” he said.
Also, Mrs Omolara Tijani, said that the occasion symbolise the significance of sacrifice and almsgiving.
“Many of us may not have the money to slaughter ram this year because of hardship but we can still share the little we have with the poor among us,” Tijani said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the celebration featured the symbolic slaughtering of rams.
The event attracted at least 500 worshippers, who wore facemasks but physical distancing was not observed.
Provisions for handwashing were also made at strategic points at the various prayer grounds as part of the efforts to check the spread of COVID-19.
A detachment of security personnel were on ground in the capital city to maintain adequate security during the prayer sessions.