Prominent Islamic clerics yesterday urged Muslims in Nigeria not to resort to street demonstrations over the blasphemous film made in the US, as violence spread in the Middle East and North Africa.
While the clerics condemned the movie, which presented the Prophet Muhammad in ways that angered Muslims around the world, they said street protests could only worsen the security situation in the country.
Chief Imam of Jos Central Mosque, Sheikh Balarabe Daud, described the film as provocative and insulting but urged for restraint.
“Such actions are orchestrated by the enemies of peace to bring about chaos which must be condemned by religious leaders all over the world,” he said.
Another prominent Islamic scholar Sheikh Alhassan Sa’id said the only way Muslims can be appeased is for the United States to take measures to arrest and prosecute these behind the movie.
But he urged for restraint among the Muslim community in Nigeria.
In Kaduna, security presence was beefed up yesterday, apparently in efforts to avoid eruption of violence following the security alert issued on Tuesday.
Public buildings where there was no security presence before yesterday are now guarded by either policemen or soldiers.
An armoured tank was stationed at the entrance of the Arewa House, aside the presence of security personnel.
When contacted, the Kaduna State Commissioner of police, Olufemi Adenaike, said his command has put his men on red alert to avert any attempt to breach the peace.
“In the first place, what we want the public to know is that there is no link between what happened in other countries and Nigeria,” he said.
“Those who did what they did are not Nigerians, therefore we shouldn’t allow crisis that happened in other countries to spill over to Nigeria. I know Nigerians are peace loving people and for that I know they would not allow anybody to use them to breach the peace that we are enjoying in Kaduna and other parts of the country.
“However, I have put all my divisional police officers and area commanders on red alert to forestall any attempt by individuals or groups to breach the peace of the state.”
In Kano spokesman for the Joint Task Force, Lt Ikedichi Iweha, told Daily Trust troops have been briefed about the situation. He, however, said there is no sign of trouble.
“Troops are on ground and ready to act in case anything happens,” he added.
Our correspondent reports that many people in Kano did not appear to be aware of protests elsewhere over the controversial film.
In Bauchi, the state Police command said they also took measures to prevent a breakdown of law and order.
A Daily Trust correspondent who went round Bauchi metropolis observed that security has been beefed up, as soldiers and policemen patrol the streets and conduct stop-and-search.
Spokesman for the Police in Bauchi, Hassan Mohammed Auyo, said, “We have now taken more proactive measures. We have identified all flash points; we have deployed our men there and we opened our ears where ever we heard something we will be there to ensure that there is no breakdown of law and order.”
He appealed to parents to warn their children against participating in any activity that will cause the breach of peace.
US embassy issues warning
Meanwhile, the US embassy in Nigeria yesterday warned Americans about the threat of attacks by extremist groups following the violence in Libya and Egypt, urging extra caution.
The “emergency message” issued to Americans living in Nigeria came after militants attacked the US consulate in Benghazi, killing the US ambassador and three other Americans, hours after a mob attacked the US embassy in Cairo.
“Extremists may attempt to target US citizens and other Westerners in Nigeria,” the embassy said in a statement.
“The situation in Nigeria remains fluid and unpredictable,” the statement said, urging Americans “to consider their personal security.”
A U.S. law enforcement official says a man named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is behind the anti-Islam film being blamed for mob attacks in Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen.
A man who calls himself Sam Bacile has said he created the film, but The Associated Press on Wednesday connected Nakoula to the Bacile persona.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation.
In an AP interview, Nakoula says he managed logistics for the company that produced the film, which mocked Muslims and the prophet Muhammad. He denies that he was Bacile.