Echoes of another forced muslim conversion hits Enugu

The Muslim Community in Enugu State yesterday urged Nigerians to desist from painting Islam “black”, stressing that the religion would not condone activities targeted at undermining human existence and freedom. The Community also dismissed as “untrue” news making the rounds that an Enugu girl, Ifesinachi Ani, was abducted, forcefully converted to Islam and married off to an Emir. They stated that Muslims would continue to receive anybody who wished to identify with Islam the same way Christians would receive anyone who declared for Jesus Christ. A Federal Commissioner representing Southeast in the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, Chief Ibrahim Ezeani, who addressed a press conference in Enugu yesterday, decried the negative colouration being given to the story of Ani, stressing that the girl willingly converted to Islam and was never married off to any Emir. Giving a vivid account of the story of the girl, who hails from Umunnachingene, Amechi, Awkunanaw, Enugu South Local Council, he stated that she converted to Islam in 2014 by herself, alleging that since the incident, her mother had decided to frustrate her.

He said: “This briefing is centered on correcting misinformation surrounding Ifeasinachi Ani who embraced Islam in 2014 and who since then has been having issues with her mother. The mother of the girl became very aggressive about the news that her daughter has become a Muslim, saw her as a deviant and wanted to use all known system to frustrate her in practicing Islamic religion. The girl had made up her mind in becoming a Muslim and the mother had also made up her mind in dealing with her. “So they quarreled to the point that the father asked the mother to send her down to him in Enugu and the mother could not do that. The girl left the mother and the mother now turned to the press to claim that Muslims have abducted her daughter and married her out to one Emir. So, it became national news. It was all over the media.
“Fortunately, the girl after contacting her father traced him to the village and she came to the Islamic Centre here (the headquarters of Islamic religion in Enugu). She reported herself to this place and Muslim leaders decided that because of the news of her abduction, it is appropriate to inform the police in that anybody seen with this girl will be branded an abductor.

“So, we decided to take her first to the police. Unfortunately, the police now on seeing her decided to arrest her and kept her in their custody. The Muslim Community now went and demanded from the police that if you want to keep her for security reasons, give her to us also for security reasons and we will release her to you anytime you want her. They invited the father from Awkunanaw, who now came and identified her daughter and requested the police to give him custody of his daughter, which the police refused. At the end they said the case emanated from Abuja and that they needed to take her back to Abuja.” Ezeani, who was flanked by other leaders of the Islamic Centre, said they decided to speak on the matter “so as to tell the public that this girl is telling everybody that she is a Muslim by her own volition and would want to be left to be a Muslim. She is telling the whole world that she has never been abducted by anybody and has never been married out to anybody too either by force or by any other form and therefore should be allowed.”

Culled from The Guardian


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