Deputy Governor of Niger State, Hon. Ahmed Musa Ibeto
By Aisha Wakaso
Determined to quell the controversy that it has generated, the Niger State Government has decided to wade into the furore surrounding the alleged forceful conversion of a 25-year-old girl, Charity Uzoechina, to Islam.
Charity, who is the daughter of Pastor Raymond Uzoechina of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), is said to have been a student at the Federal Polytechnic, Bida, before she was allegedly hypnotised and hoodwinked into becoming a Muslim. She subsequently changed her name to Aisha Uzoechina. Charity’s father had raised the alarm over his daughter’s abduction and hypnosis by the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar.
According to the Deputy Governor of Niger State, Hon. Ahmed Musa Ibeto, who presided over the stakeholders’ meeting in Minna Wednesday, the meeting was meant to broker peace between those involved in the conversion saga and find a solution that would be fair to all, adding that the meeting was birthed after series of other meetings by various groups to decide on how to resolve the crisis.
Many had expressed surprise and even shock that the daughter of a pastor did not only convert to Islam suddenly, but ended up in the palace of a Muslim monarch. But Charity had insisted that she was neither forced nor hypnotised to convert to Islam. She maintained: “I did it on my own. Nobody forced or enticed me to become a Muslim. I converted to Islam on my own…”
In a twist of fate, Charity not only dragged her father before a Sharia court for fear of being harmed by him as a result of her conversion to Islam, but also prayed fervently so the scales would fall off her father’s eyes for him to realise that Islam is the right religion. The case is to be heard in court Thursday.
However, Ibeto said they all agreed at the stakeholders’ meeting which had him, the National Secretary of the Christian Association Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Musa Asaki, the Estu Nupe, former governor of Niger State, Abdulkadir Kure, Charity and her parents, among others in attendance, that the court should vacate the case which is slated for hearing today so that the matter could be settled out of court.
“The state government's concern is to unify the father and his daughter. And unless the case is withdrawn, there is nothing, we can do. Government wants to open channels of mutual trust between them as the girl is afraid that something may happen to her if she returns to the father because of her conversion,” Ibeto explained.
Ibeto said Niger is a state where families live peacefully despite practising the two faiths in a family. He said: “Niger State believes or honours co-existence between all people of all religions. We believe, religion should not be allowed to divide the people and that is why the state decided to intervene in the issue.”
THISDAY was informed that the presidency had also asked the state to wade into the issue and resolve it. Charity's conversion has generated so much controversy as her father had accused the Estu Nupe of abducting and hypnotising his daughter and converting her to Islam.