No mosque was demolished in Rivers, northern group insists
• Says southerners resident in North are safe
• Muslim community seeks dialogue over disputed land
Following disputations over alleged demolition of a Mosque in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the Coalition of Northern Youth Groups has said there was no demolition of any Muslims praying ground in the state.
The group said the recent allegation that Governor Nyesom Wike ordered the demolition of a Mosque in Port Harcourt was false, insisting that the claim was orchestrated by politicians to “fan the embers of ethnic, religious or regional division for their self-serving and fiendish gains.Speaking at a media briefing, Convener of the group, Mohammed Sani, urged Northern youths to maintain the peace and resist desperate attempts to stir crises over the alleged demolition of a fictitious Mosque in Port Harcourt.
He, however, assured Southerners resident in the North to go about their businesses peacefully and confidently, as the group has commenced sensitisation of the youths.
“The recent rumour of alleged demolition of a Mosque on Trans Amadi Road, GRA, Port Harcourt is not only false and misleading, but intended to draw religious ire, stir political tension and widen the chasm of national division, which requires healing and bonding at this point in time.“It should be noted that we immediately swung into action on hearing the disturbing news and have conducted an on the spot visit to the said location and our findings are contrary to the falsehood being peddled.
“A diligent assessment of the location showed that even though structures were demolished around the area, none of the structures was a Mosque building. “On further interaction with residents and the Muslim community in the area, we learnt that the location being labeled as a Mosque building belongs to an individual who was building his personal house without government approval,” he stated.
Besides, the Chief Imam of Mile One Diobu Central Mosque and Spokesman of the Islamic Council in Rivers State, Murtala Sulaiman Abdulsalam, said Muslims are disposed to dialogue with the state government on the disputed piece of land where a mosque was allegedly erected.
“We are not saying the land does not belong to government or not. But there is a genuine paper that covers the land for which the government can open dialogue between it and Muslims. If you say it is your land, relocate us. We are not saying that piece of land must be a Mosque,” he said.The Guardian, however, recalled that in 2002, Governor Peter Odili’s administration demolished Rainbow Town, Port Harcourt and took possession of the vast expanse of land, which was once used as an Army barracks.
While the barracks existed, the Muslim community comprising Army personnel and civilians who lived in the Mami Market had a Mosque there.But in order to repossess the land, which was acquired by the defunct Eastern Regional government, the Rivers State government had to build several blocks of flats at the Bori Camp for the Army to relocate its personnel.
After demolition of shanties around the former barrack in 2002, Odili’s administration as part of its urban renewal programme, promised to build modern houses at the repossessed land, but was unable to achieve the plan.Following the relocation of the Army barracks, Muslims who lived around Rainbow Town decided to seek alternative place of worship, which led to the acquisition of the disputed land.However, officials of state Ministry of Urban Development and Physical Development demolished the foundation two weeks ago, saying the structure was unapproved.