– Alleges VP, Churches waging war on Islamic City
– Says it’s colossal damage to heritage
– flyover, pedestrian bridges enough
The Zumuratul Jamiu Mumin Society of Nigeria (ZJM) has kicked against the siting of an interchange within its community at Pakuro-Lotto axis on Lagos-Ibadan expressway, saying it’s the evil scheme of land snatchers to wage war against Islam and relocate the Islamic City, the only thriving Muslim Community that shares boundaries with the two notable Christian denominations.
Speaking with Muslim News on Tuesday, the group said such action, if carried out by the Federal Government will cause a colossal damage to the heritage built over three decades by the founding fathers.
Muslim News recalls that the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) had in September, 2021 during an inspection tour of the highway reiterated the government’s plan to construct three bridges and interchanges along Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
Mr. Fashola, who was joined by Governor Dapo Abiodun at the Lotto Bridge (under construction) said the highway accommodates over 40,000 vehicles daily, hence the urgent need for additional flyovers and interchanges for decongestion.
The bridges are under construction at Makun, MFM and Lotto (Mowe) areas on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
He said, “We are trying to execute an interchange that will separate the main carriageway and give commuters choice, especially those going to religious places to worship, those going to universities and so on. So that, what used to cause the congestion is limited to the barest minimum, if not totally eradicated when the road is finished.
“So, we now require additional land to build the interchange, that is why I called the governor (Dapo Abiodun),” he said.
Meanwhile, Muslim News findings revealed that the Islamic City legally occupies a paltry 6 acres of land between the camp sites of the two large churches: The Redeemed Christian Church of God and the Deeper Life Church.
Hundreds of ZJM members with their families and about 300 other buildings have been marked for demolition to pave way for the interchange.
The spokesman of the group, Sheikh Ahmed Sulaimon Atanda, who spoke with Muslim News on behalf of the Khaleefa (Supreme leader) of ZJM, Alhaji Abdul Raheem Bello said they aren’t against development that will bring relief to the masses, but insisted that, “just like other places, what we need is the construction of flyovers and pedestrian bridges, not an interchange.
“If they insist on building the interchange, then, they should relocate the project to another place where they have more than enough land, so that the impending colossal damage on our heritage would be avoided. Not even relocation could atone for the attendant loss of the demolition. We will not allow that on our land, which we have occupied legally for about 30 years. We have our C of O and other relevant documents.
“I am expressing the mind of the people of Islamic City, the entire member of ZJM Society of Nigeria. We are peace-loving people and we want the Nigerian Government to allow peace to reign, because our religion, Islam is a religion of peace. They should respect our rights to live and property”, he said.
Speaking further, the Khaleefa’s spokesperson highlighted some of the effects of the proposed demolition exercise on their heritage.
“First, out of the 6 acres of land, the demolition will consume 4 acres. If carried out, thousands of people would be rendered homeless. Orphans and widows will be left to suffer. Many legal businesses which have been functioning for years will be paralysed. Many workers will be sent to the unemployed’s market, just like thousands of students receiving education in our modern and Islamic schools would be denied.
“If our mosque is demolished, it will affect our religious activities. Many staff members will be affected. It will cause a lot of psychological damage to students of ZJM School. Many Nigerian citizens will be affected emotionally, socially, religiously. psychologically, economically and It will project the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing as well as the Nigerian Government as wicked and selfish bodies that do not have the love of the citizens.
“We invite you all to come and inspect this place. This is an institution. These are government approved Zumuratul Jamiu Mumin Anglo Arabic Nursery, Primary and Secondary Schools.
“Look at the buildings, the exam hall, classrooms, laboratories, library, staffroom and other school facilities. What will be the fate of the thousands of students when you pull down all these structures and facilities in the name of building an interchange? So, leave our community alone.
“Except for sinister motive, what economic sense is in this for the government, even if they are going to pay compensation, when there are fallow lands elsewhere.
“We have in our school thousands of students of Arabic-Islamic education as well as Western education. The school has produced thousands of graduates. The school was founded in 1988. It was established for humanitarian services. Parents and teachers, students alike engage in farming to feed the schools.
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The group alleged that the plans to demolish their buildings for the interchange was orchestrated by the Redeemed Christian Church of God, with the support of the Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo.
Sheikh Atanda said, “From reliable sources, we gathered that the proposed exercise was intentionally moved to our location so they could displace the only Islamic settlement in that area. We aren’t aware that the Christian communities in the area see our presence as a ‘threat’ to their evangelism agenda, but what we can’t understand is how our peaceful existence constitutes any threat. We have coexisted with them for years.
“They have confronted us before over our mode of worship, which is opposed to theirs. We also learned that they got the support of the VP, Prof. Osinbajo, to move the location of the interchange to our area. They deliberately spared Deeper Life on the left side, and left the Redeemed Church on the right side; so why the Islamic City? We are in-between both of them. It simply means the two churches don’t want to see us amidst them.
“In fact, there was a time the Redeemed declared the Lagos-Ibadan expressway as Holy Ghost road and they believe the presence of an Islamic City will be an obstacle for them to achieve this. That’s why they want to dislocate us from our land, but we aren’t going to accept it. Even if they give us trillions of naira, we aren’t going to vacate our heritage,” he said.
The ZJM expressed disappoinment over plans to demolish their property for the interchange, when in actual sense, building of flyovers and pedestrian bridges will solve the gridlock being experienced in the area.
According to him, “It is unbelievable and unprecedented that the Nigerian government could carry out such wicked operations without prior notice or consultation with the citizens and the stakeholders involved.
“We believe it is one of the evil machinations of land snatchers. We consider this as a war against Islam, particularly the Islamic City, the only thriving Muslim Community within the area. They must be aware that any war against Islam is a war against peace.
“Again, what we need here is a flyover and pedestrian bridges, but if they insist on building the INTERCHANGE, let them relocate the project to a neutral ground, where demolition would be minimal, because the damage on our heritage would be colossal if they go ahead with their plan.
“We hope our distress call through this medium will get to the Federal Government, especially, the relevant government agencies and the Muslim Ummah at large,” he concluded.
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