The demolition of the Rainbow Town Central Mosque in the Trans-Amadi Area of Port Harcourt by the Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike was an outright abuse of power and a flagrant usurpation of the Muslims right to freedom of worship.
The Amir of the Muslim Congress (TMC), Dr Lukman AbdurRaheem said, in a statement, that it was disheartening that such a wicked act was carried out at a time insecurity is rife in the country.
He said Gov Wike, a leader of a state who is supposed to stem the tide of discord, is the one fanning the embers of disharmony.
The Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at the American University of Nigeria called on the leadership of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) to urgently wade into this matter in order to ensure the restoration of the rights and dignity of the Muslims in Rivers.
“NSCIA should emphasize to the governor, the need for a peaceful and harmonious relationship among the various groups in the state towards the development of the state in particular and the country in general,” he said.
Read the full statement below
GOV. WIKE’S DEMOLITION OF RAINBOW TOWN CENTRAL MOSQUE IS OUTRIGHT ABUSE OF POWER AND OPPRESSION OF RIVERS STATE’S MUSLIM MINORITY
The demolition of the Rainbow Town Central Mosque in the Trans-Amadi Area of Port Harcourt by the Governor of Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike, is outright abuse of power by the number one citizen in the state and a flagrant oppression of the rights of the Muslim minority to freedom of worship. It is disheartening that at a time when insecurity is rife in the country, a leader of a state who is supposed to stem the tide of discord is the one fanning the embers of disharmony.
The Rainbow Town Central Mosque that was under construction and already being used for worship every Friday was pulled down on August 20 on instructions from the Governor of the state. The lame excuse given for the demolition was that the construction did not have valid approvals from the State Government. If this was the case, where were the notices to quit that were served on the leaders of the mosque before the unexpected arrival of the bulldozer and armed policemen?
It will be recalled that the Muslim community bought the piece of land from one Chief Amadi just the same way other pieces of land were bought by other people and prayers commenced there in 2008. But in 2010, the building construction and fence were demolished on the orders of former Governor Rotimi Amaechi. Chief Amadi, the original owner of the piece of land, took the state government to court and won the case on November 3, 2017, without an appeal from the Rivers State government. The August 20 demolition is the second time the construction will be brought down.
A demolition actually took place since the fence, the foundation to DPC level and pillars were brought down. The Rivers governor was being economical with the truth by saying that there was no mosque demolition on the said piece of land. This is an unjust demolition and a flagrant abuse of the court judgement granted on November 3, 2017. The chief security officer of the state should be the last person to be seen violating the laws of the land. Is he inviting people to self-help through his unrestrained activities against the minority Muslims in the state? The governor should be called to order before there is a serious breach of security in the state. Irrespective of the minority status of the Muslims in the state, it is the responsibility of the governor to ensure their welfare and security are adequately taken care of.
The leaders of the mosque have confirmed that approval was given for the mosque construction in 2009 and they started the construction of the pillars, the fence and the foundation in 2010. This mosque happened to be the only one in the Trans-Amadi area with about 4,000 faithful worshipping every Friday. The prime location and the large turn-out of Muslims might be some of the reasons the antagonists of Muslims do not want the full development of the mosque building to become a reality.
The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria gives everyone the right to own property in any state in the country and the right to freely practice his religion without discrimination or fear of molestation. Why then did the governor carry out this dastardly act against the law-abiding Muslim citizens of the state? We are not at a loss as to why this is happening. The antecedents of the governor have actually prepared some people to expect the worst from a governor who willingly chose to divide his people along religious lines for cheap political gain.
In June 2019, Governor Wike pronounced Rivers State a Christian State. His words, “I repeat once again without apologies, Rivers is a Christian State. That is why nobody can touch us. When it mattered most, the Christian community prayed and God heard your prayers.” Once he had made the statement, he had set his government on a collision course against the rights and freedoms of the Muslim minority in the state. But what he fails to understand is that the Muslims will approach the courts for the protection of their rights and freedoms as guaranteed by the constitution. We urge Muslims in the state and elsewhere to be peaceful, law-abiding and to shun any activity that will likely lead to breach of security in the land. Be rest assured that we have faith in the adjudication of the courts and that our rights will be restored to us in due course.
While we thank Muslim leaders and organizations who have spoken out against this injustice meted on law-abiding Muslims by a sitting governor, we urge the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) under the leadership of Abubakar Sa’ad III to wade into this matter in order to ensure the restoration of the rights and dignity of the Muslims in the state. NSCIA should emphasize to the Governor the need for peaceful and harmonious relationship amongst the various groups in the state towards the development of the state in particular and the country in general.
We also urge the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and rights activists of good conscience in every part of the country to condemn and prevail upon the governor to undo the destruction he has caused and to compensate the Muslims for the damages they have suffered. This is the little we can do to ensure that every Nigerian is free to practice his religion anywhere he chooses as home in whatever part of the country.
Long live the Muslim Ummah!
Long live Rivers State!
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Luqman AbdurRaheem, PhD.
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