A Muslim cleric in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, Ustaz Yahaya Imam Abdulahi has assured Muslims leaders that their members are living in peace and going about their normal businesses without fears of molestation in the state.
Imam Abdulahi, who is the leader of Bori Central Mosque in Khana local government area of the state, spoke against the backdrop of a video clip circulating in the social media about the alleged demolition of a big mosque in the state and concerns that Muslims in the state are under attack.
Speaking with our reporter in Port Harcourt office, he clarified that the issue was being blown out of proportion, even as he urged the state government to meet with leaders of the affected mosque in order to put the matter to rest.
“We (Muslim leaders) have been receiving lots of telephone calls from every state because there is a misconception about the issue of mosque demolition. Muslims in Rivers state are not under threat and the state is not hostile to the Muslim community.”
“We have over 130 major mosques in Rivers state, not counting the smaller ones in the streets, and I assure the Muslim leaders everywhere that there is no threat (to Muslims),” he added.
Speaking further, Imam Abdulahi said the actual demolition of the controversial site of the mosque took place over seven years ago, explaining that the incident affected, not only mosques, but churches, houses and shops, contrary to what is circulating in the media.
“There was an area called Rainbow Community along Trans Amadi area. Five to seven years or so ago the government of Rivers state gave a notice that they need the land. The issue went to court, there was a legal tussle and the state government won.
“The state government demolished everything there; churches, mosque, houses and shops.”
“After some years again, the Muslim community resident in the area got another land from a local chief for over N11.5m. they built a mosque there – that was after the demolition of the first mosque, which affected all the residents, not only the Muslim community.”
“Sometimes again, another demolition took place and they lost this mosque that was about five years ago. They didn’t leave the place, but are praying there every day and every week. It was when the state government went to clear there again that started this.”
Abdulahi hinted that the issue was being blown out of proportion because of Governor Nyesom Wike’s utterance on the now abandoned controversial Ruga settlement, but maintained that the governor did not say anything different from what his colleagues in the region said on the issue.
“Governor Wike addressed his supporters (on Ruga), assuring them that Rivers is a Christian state and he has no regret. That is what people are relating to and saying Muslims are under attack or threat. I see the video in circulation which is not connected with the latest matter.”
“I am calling the Executive Governor of Rivers state that he should continue to be the leader he his who does things accordingly. If there is a land bought for mosque and the government has interest in it they should replace it with another one.”