By David Olalekan.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has tongue-lashed Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State for demolishing the Central Mosque in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
Governor Wike, had on Tuesday, August 20, ordered officials of the Rivers State Ministry of Urban Development and Physical Planning to demolish the multi-million naira Trans-Amadi Central Mosque, which plays host to over 10, 000 worshippers in the state.
The state government cited non-compliance despite the existence of the Rivers State approved building plan.
INSIDER learnt that the mosque building which commenced about 10 years ago was first demolished by former governor Rotimi Amaechi, leading to a lawsuit which the worshippers won six years ago.
Having been victorious in court, the worshippers returned to the site and have invested over N30million to the project before Governor Wike demolished the mosque again.
Angered by the state government’s decision, the Director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, in a statement issued to newsmen on Monday, described the demolition as an exhibition of gross, undiluted Islamophobia, and an evidence that established thugs have seized the reins of power in certain government houses in Nigeria.
The statement read: “This demolition exercise is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional. It is an exhibition of gross, undiluted Islamophobia and the most odious and insidious attack on an Islamic landmark in that part of the country in recent times. It is another evidence showing that established thugs have seized the reins of power in certain government houses in Nigeria.
“Both the Chief Imam of Trans-Amadi Central Mosque, Alhaji Haroon Muhammed and the Secretary, Alhaji Aliyu Sadiq have provided evidence proving that due process was followed in purchasing the land. Yet the state government has been harassing the mosque management for years. The mosque has been demolished twice in the past.
“The Muslims had no option than to approach the court. Two cases were instituted at the State High court. One was to restrain the government from taking over the land and the other was for compensation for the loss incurred by the Muslims for the damages done to their properties (the building that was demolished and the properties in the mosque damaged as a result of the demolition).
“The Muslims won both cases. The court judgement in favour of the Muslims was given on 2nd November, 2017. Though the government appealed against the second case which is about compensation for damages and the case is still ongoing at the Appeal Court, it did not appeal the one restraining it from taking over the land. The Muslims of Rivers State are therefore the bona fide owners of that land.
“It proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the demolition of Tuesday 20th August 2019 was done in contempt of court. A mosque is demolished while there is a case on it at an appellate court. The level of impunity manifested by Governor Nyesom Wike has confirmed the fear expressed by Lord Acton in his 1887 letter addressed to Bishop Mandell Creighton that ‘Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely’.
“Or how do we explain a situation whereby a state governor ignores all legal process and proceeds to send thugs and fake mobile policemen to destroy a mosque? It is interesting to note that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of that area challenged the task forceon the ground that he was not aware of any demolition order.
“They replied that the order was from the State House but they had to withdraw because they could not produce a written order when the DPO requested for it. This happened twice: 29th July and 16th August, 2019 before they eventually came for the demolition on 20th August when they returned yesterday with more touts, fake mobile policemen and bulldozers.
“This demolition was executed without any formal notice despite the fact that the mosque has an approved building plan. The only thing that was heard was that the papers had not been revalidated whereas the mosque management made several moves to revalidate ownership. They even paid a visit to the permanent secretary to complain when officials in the Ministry of Lands and Housing refused to attend to them.
“This illegal demolition has deprived more than 10,000 worshippers of a place of worship. Members of the armed forces, oil company workers and other residents who are Muslims attend the mosque. This exercise smarks of religious fanaticism, intolerance and administrative impunity.
“The witch cried yesterday and the child died today. Do we still need to waste time on an autopsy? Contrary to Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which says, ‘The Government of the Federation or of a State shall not adopt any religion as State religion’ Wike has declared on three different occasions that Rivers State is a Christian State and no one has deemed it fit to caution him, not the state assembly, nor the Senate.
“Wike does not want any mosque in the state. Neither does he want to see any Muslim around him. Paradoxically, Rivers State citizens are everywhere in the country, particularly in Muslim-controlled parts of Northern Nigeria as well as Muslim-majority parts of the South West. Wike’s ability for independent and logical reasoning is highly in doubt.
“We alert Nigerians to the characteristics of Wike’s administration, namely: wikedisation of religion, acrobatic religiousity, gymnastic impunity, political violence and administrative rascality. Wike has no respect for any type of decorum. He is a threat to peaceful coexistence anywhere in this country.
“This man must never be allowed to go beyond Rivers State in his political career. Neither should any president give him a federal appointment. Nigerian Muslims will definitely rise against him if he ever aspires for a federal position anytime in the future or if any presidential candidate picks him as his running mate. Wike is bad news. Muslims are not safe in his hands. He is not capable of rational thinking. Neither can he ever dispense justice with fairness.
“To the Muslims of Rivers State, we send to you this strong message of solidarity. ‘Believers are all brothers’ (Qur’an 49:10 Inamal muminuun ikhwah). We assure you that you are not alone. We feel the heat as you pray under the burning sun. We share the cold and wetness when you pray in the rain. The Fir‘awn of Rivers State cannot do worse to you than Abu Lahab and Abu Jahl did to the early Muslims. How did the duo end up? What was the end of Fir‘awn the oppressor? We, therefore, charge Muslims in Rivers State to remain steadfast in faith and in resolution.
“While we caution against taking the law into their hands, we warn that they must not kowtow to Wike’s poohpooh. They must resolutely pursue the legal angle to a logical conclusion. We also advise that they continue to observe their weekly Jumu’ah service on the ruins of the multi-million naira mosque to the chagrin of Wike and his agents of destruction. Afterall, Wike cannot have the luxury of a third term. His days are numbered but every term is Allah’s term. He reigns forever.
“The National Assembly (NASS) is advised to enact a law compelling any Nigerian who aspires to a political post to undergo mental examination. This will save the country from the embarrassment of irrational and Bohemian behavior on the part of holders of political offices.
“In conclusion, we appeal to the NASS to call Wike to order. His actions are capable of setting Nigeria on fire. The declaration of Rivers State as a Christian state constitutes a major infringement on Section 10 of the Nigerian constitution which he swore to defend. Neither should the NASS close its eyes to the war being waged by Wike against Muslims in the state.”