When the #EndSARS protest against police brutality erupted in October last year, little did anyone envisage that it was going to escalate into an ethnocentric crisis that would claim lives and properties.
For Ibrahim Illah who hails from Kano along with five of his friends from the North, it was a narrow escape when a mob of irate youths in the South-East set out to lynch them but were saved when they took refuge for 10 days in the country home of a legal luminary, Kenneth Ikonne, SAN.
PRNigeria gathered that the Igbo family of Barrister Ikonne not only protected the Hausa-Fulani who are all Muslims but also provided them with food, medications and clothing during the period.
Speaking on the incident, Barrister Kenneth said that a cardinal cultural ethos of the Igbo people is that the stranger’s life and his property, are sacred, and must be protected and defended at all costs, even at the risk of personal harm, and even death.
He narrated further that, “when therefore news reached me last year, amid the turbulence of the #ENDSARS riot, that a baying mob, drawn from Obigbo, Rivers State, were at the gate of my country home, threatening to burn it down unless six Hausa boys who had sought refuge therein were given to them to kill, I instructed my younger brother to dare the mob and keep the gate firmly shut; under no circumstances were the boys to be yielded.”
Ibrahim and his friends all Northern Muslims, who had lost their entire wares and life savings, and barely escaped with their lives during the riot, were petty traders at the Onions market situated near the mosque at Uratta, Aba, Abia State, along the Aba axis of the Enugu – Port Harcourt Express road.
The market had come under a vicious hate attack during the #ENDSARS crisis and was completely razed as traders’ wares and belongings were destroyed and money snatched.
Kenneth who said a part of him died when he heard about the brutality and mob action against the innocent traders and recalled that when his family refused to hand the boys to the mob, their resistance paid off, “and with the aid of the Army, the evil mob was dispersed, and after 10 days, Ibrahim and his brothers, shaken and traumatized, returned to Kano.”
He revealed that he became very emotional when Ibrahim’s mother defied language barriers and insisted on speaking to him to express her eternal gratitude.
“She wept throughout the exchange; i didn’t understand a word of what she said to me in Hausa, but her howls and moans communicated most eloquently to me, the depth of her gratitude.
“At the height of the onions crisis in the South, Ibrahim’s mother had remembered us, and had sent him to me, with a bag of “agricultural gold”, to thank us, and Ibrahim had come, defying danger. I had never seen such an unadulterated show of epic gratitude,” Kenneth said, recalling that Ibrahim has since then, remained in the community, a shadow of his old self, but still hopeful and cheerful, and has steadfastly kept in touch with him, in faraway Abuja.
He noted that though a sojourner with different ethnic and religious leaning, Ibrahim has found a place in his heart as a friend and a son.
PRNigeria gathered that Ibrahim and some of his friends have returned to the same community where they are reassured of their safety with supports from Igbo youths and leaders.