Pete Edochie playing a character believed to El-Zakzaky

Islamic Movement of Nigeria has carpeted Nollywood veteran Pete Edochie for playing the principal character in a controversial film, Fatal Arrogance, that the movement said distorts its ideology and maligns its leader Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.

The movement insists the film was sponsored by the Nigerian Army, whose leaders committed genocide against its members and precipitated the arrest of El-Zakzaky and his wife since December 2015.

In a statement, spokesman of the movement Ibrahim Musa said Edochie’s attempt to explain his role was an exercise in absurdity.

According to Musa, Edochie’s explanation was flawed and his excuses unimpressive, irrational and absurd.

“Firstly, any serious artist worth the name must first of all undertake some kind of serious research to get the facts of any script brought to him right. This must be done through intense reading of the literature and interviews with scholars who are conversant with the facts. Pete Edochie did none of that.

“Had he been bold enough to cross check, he would have realized that genocide took place in Zaria in 2015 where over a thousand Nigerian lives were wasted by the sponsors of the film. He would have come across the very many attempts by the perpetrators to hide these heinous crimes, firstly by the burial of their victims in mass graves, an internationally recognised crime against humanity as reported by Amnesty International. He would have realized that the matter is currently a subject of investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). He would have realised that the script before him is a continuation of that desperate attempt to distort facts.

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“Had Pete Edochie cared to carry out a background check on the scripts given to him to act, he would have realized that the Islamic Movement in Nigeria has been victorious in all the over ten different cases it was in court against the government and perpetrators since that genocide. The government, with all its might and powers has never proven any case of crime or terrorism against it, its leadership or members in any court of law.

“He would have come across the blunt truth stated by Honourable Justice Gabriel Kolawole, then of the Abuja Federal High Court that, “Invidious unobtrusive acts of intolerance by majority Muslims who follow the Sunni school of thought against the minority Muslims who follow the Shiah school of thought is an important factor escalating the current crisis leading to the continued detention of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and the continued incessant persecution of its members.”

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“If Edochie has any character as he claims, he would not have accepted to act any role in a film that seems to change the narrative and distort history based on a book distorting facts! If he had any integrity, he would not have accepted to appear in a movie tarnishing the image of an oppressed personality like Sheikh Zakzaky and still think he did nothing wrong because the Sheikh was not mentioned by name. Edochie has thrown his professionalism to the winds as he chose to be paid to distort historical facts, yet claiming not to refer to anybody, when clearly the cast bears all the telltale signs of mischievous attempt, at not only demonizing IMN, but also Islam as a whole. Peaceful protesters of the Movement are mischievously depicted as armed protesters, with guns and knives tasty for the blood of the innocent. Yet, Edochie would rather that we waited for him and his perpetrator sponsors to complete their denigration and manipulation before we complain, even as we have seen enough to convince us of their wicked intents.

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“Pete Edochie also claimed that his life was threatened without saying by whom in an attempt to give the Movement a bad name and to attract cheap sympathy from Nigerians. The petition written by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria to the Inspector General of Police and the Film’s Censors Board doesn’t threaten anyone’s life. Issuing of threats has never been in our character.

“Finally, the bottom line is that Pete Edochie should be honourable enough to accept that he allowed himself to be used to further vilify victims of one of the worst state-sponsored massacres of its citizens. He could still redeem his name as other actors in the ill-fated film are doing”.

*Pete Edochie speaks: