23rd May, 2023
AK-47 PASTOR : MURIC DEMANDS ACTION
A call has gone to the security agencies to update Nigerians on the action taken against the AK47-wielding Abuja pastor, Uche Aigbe, who openly brandished a gun on the altar in his House on the Rock church, Abuja, this year.
Making the call on Tuesday, 23rd May, 2023 was the Executive Director of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Professor Ishaq Akintola. According to him, Nigerians are beginning to suspect that the matter had been swept under the carpet. He therefore called on the security agencies to speak up on the issue.
His full statement reads :
“An Abuja pastor, Uche Aigbe, brought an AK-47 rifle to his House on the Rock Church on Sunday, 12th February, 2023. By so doing, he caused a stir not only inside the church but nationwide. Although he was later arrested by the police and arraigned in court, Nigerians did not hear anything about the matter afterwards (https://punchng.com/tension-as-abuja-pastor-brings-ak-47-to-altar/).
“The Muslim Rights Concern is tremendously concerned about the threat posed by this ugly development and the impact which his sensational action has had on church goers all over the country. Pastor Uche Aigbe laid an extremely bad example which may have been picked up by Christian youths.
“While we commend the police for steps taken to apprehend the pastor and charge him to court, we believe that followup actions are more important. It is the followup actions that will give assurance to the people that the matter has not been forgotten. It will also mitigate the fear of many. The judiciary rarely operate public relations but the police who took the case to court should speak up. Nigerians want to know about the progress made on the matter, if any.
“We must not pretend that the pastor’s action did not raise fears in certain groups, particularly among Muslims. It may have aroused suspicion about the existence of secret armories in church underground warehouses and tunnels. This may also have been fueled by stories of several cache of arms discovered by customs officials at the boarders in the past years.
“Exempli gratia, a huge cache of weapons was uncovered at Tin Can Island, Lagos on 20th September, 2017. This was barely one week after 1,100 pump action rifles were seized at the port (https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2017/09/20/customs-intercepts-another-cache-of-arms-at-tin-can-port/).
“In October 2009, a large quantity of arms and ammunition was found concealed in a 40-feet container in Apapa, Lagos by the same Tin Can command. (https://www.vanguardngr.com/2009/10/customs-seizes-arms-cache/). Again on 12th January, 2022, the Kwara State command of the Nigerian customs intercepted another cache of arms and ammunition worth over one million naira (https://tribuneonlinengcom/customs-seizes-large-cache-of-arms-in-kwara/).
“Equally bewildering is the report of the existence of Christian militia in some states of the Middle Belt region (https://tribuneonlineng.com/middle-belt-group-says-military-operation-in-the-region-commendable/).
“This is why we would like the security agencies to extend their investigation beyond the surface even as the case proceeds in court. Pastor Uche Aigbe has stirred the hornet’s nest. Investigation into the source of his AK-47 must lead to a logical conclusion. His narrative of having gotten the gun from the police security at the church is a cock and bull story. The Ak-47 which he brought to church may have been hidden. He has accomplices and the police detail may be one of them. Nigerians want to know the truth.
“This is a matter of serious national security concern. The action of this AK-47 pastor may encourage Christians to start arming themselves and that is if they have not done that already. Pastor Uche Aigbe’s action may have been a coded message to Christians in the country. It is creating tension and generating fear among the populace.
“Equally noteworthy is the fact that the pastor took up arms close to the presidential election of 25th February, 2023. We are surprised that the security agencies are yet to see the nexus between the religious halo which surrounded the Muslim-Muslim ticket, the ‘religious war’ referred to by the Labour Party presidential candidate and the AK47 rifle wielded by Pastor Uche Aigbe at the House on the Rock Church.
“We will be more surprised if the security agencies will allow the AK47-Pastor to walk freely into Eagle Square, venue of the presidential inauguration on 29th May, 2023, less than a week from today. Nigerians will be more comfortable if he is kept under microscopic watch or, better still, under lock and key until the ceremony is over.
“Nigeria’s security problem will not be solved until the major stakeholders stop treating signs of sickness instead of the real ailment. The ailment is the root of the signs. It is the cause of the signs which we see and the sick will not get any cure until we treat the disease itself. It is the same with security matters. The root causes must be addressed in order to stem security threats. Pastor Uche Aigbe’s AK47 has become a root cause of religiously motivated gun attacks.
“We charge the press to live up to its bidding by showing the same interest shown in cases involving Christians in those involving Muslims too. We are miffed by the silence of the Fourth Estate of the Realm over this pastor who came brandishing a sophisticated weapon in the house of God. All hell would have been let loose if an Imam had done half of this. The press would not have allowed the authorities to rest until justice has been done. He who comes to equity must come with clean hands.
“MURIC demands action in the case of the AK-47-wielding pastor. We are no longer safe. The security agencies must up their game. They must also open up on the issue. An AK-47 rifle can only be licensed by the president of Nigeria. We appeal to the judiciary not to toy with the matter because Nigerians have great interest in it.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)