Again, Nyesom Wike, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), has been defended in relation to rumours that his department intends to destroy a portion of the Abuja National Mosque.
The Abuja National Mosque Management Board recently issued a statement that was made accessible to newsmen in which it refuted the false allegations spreading on social media and urged the Muslim community to disregard the news stories.
According to the report, conflict merchants are behind the rumours as they seek to inflame religious conflict and damage the minister’s reputation. According to Naija News, the board’s Wednesday visit to the minister was a success because the former governor of Rivers State warmly welcomed them and approved of their proposals.
Following the administration’s push to collect all unpaid ground rent obligations, the Board, led by its Chairman, the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, had met with the minister on Wednesday to inquire about the status of its plots, 63 and 99.
In the meeting, Wike extended the three-month deadline to religious organisations because they rely heavily on voluntary contributions from their followers.
The Minister said: “We know the finances of religious groups, they are handicapped as they are not business people, and it is only when people come to support them.
“In such areas, we can say on religious grounds, instead of three months, we can give additional time, but it is not targeted at anybody or group. Now you have come and explained, which reasonable man would not accept it. So our people should stop saying he is targeting so group or religion or ethnic group, no, it is for the interest of all of us.
“We will extend it, so we will not restrict it to three months for you, as a religious group, because there is no money as people come to support you. And it is only when they support that you can carry out whatever you are doing.”
Wike reaffirmed that President Bola Tinubu’s current administration respects all religions and will not discriminate against anyone.
Speaking at a press conference organised by the Executive Secretary of the Federal Capital Development Authority FCDA, Engr. Shehu Hadi Ahmad, and the Director of Finance and Administration of the National Mosque, Ambassador Haliu Shuaib, the mosque’s Imam said, “The Mosque is, hereby, debunking the news of the partial demolition of the National Mosque and wishes to set the records straight.”
Shuaib said, “It has come to the attention of the Abuja National Mosque Management, of a news item making the around in social and print media regarding the purported partial demolition of the National Mosque, which is creating tension and anxiety amongst the Muslim Ummah in the country and beyond.
“His Royal Highness, Etsu Nupe, Chairman, Abuja National Mosque Management Board and his delegation paid a courtesy visit to the Hon. Minister of the FCT. The delegation was warmly received, and the discussions were constructive as well as and cordial issues of mutual interest were discussed as follows:
“Development of plot 99: The Minister was briefed that the development of the plot was receiving serious attention to the extent that the design of the project to be executed had been approved by the Development Control Department of FCDA.
“Development of Plot 63-opposite Yar’adua Centre: The Chairman also briefed the Hon. Minister that the Management of the Mosque was informed that a substantial part of Plot 63 had been consumed by the proposed Inner Northern Express Way. The Chairman, therefore, requested to know the current status of the plot and also that the remaining part of the plot be reallocated to the Mosque and that appropriate replacement of the lost portion be given to the Mosque, and the Hon. Minister’s response was positive.
“Renovation of the Mosque: The Chairman used the opportunity to appeal to the Hon. Minister to use his good offices to complete the rehabilitation/renovation of the National Mosque which the Hon. Minister promised to look at the issue.
“The National Mosque wishes to inform the general public that during the meeting between the Board Chairman and the Honourable Minister, there was never a time the Honourable Minister mentioned the demolition of any part of the National Mosque. He, however, gave the example of the demolishing of a Mosque in Port Court, which did not exist when he was a Governor. Like what happened now, he revealed that social media can cause confusion in society if care is not taken.
“The general public should, therefore, ignore the social and print media campaign and completely disregard the fake news in circulation.”
The FCDA boss had earlier claimed that the minister had informed his guests that he had not been informed of the status of a mosque land, part of which is impacted by a traffic junction.
In order to compensate the mosque for the piece of its undeveloped land, Plot 63, lost to the road interchange, Wike has given the FCDA 24 hours to update him on the situation.
“We have complied with the directive and have briefed the minister, and he has immediately approved that the excised portion be taken note of and re-issue a title to compensate them for the lost portion.
“Indeed, as a further demonstration of good faith, the Honourable Minister of the FCT, Barr. Nyesom Wike assured the delegation of the support of the FCT Administration in the maintenance of the National Mosque as well as the National Christian Center, which are all National Monuments.
“The above explanation is the true and correct reflection of what actually transpired, and this could also be further confirmed from the National Mosque Management Board. It is, therefore, hoped that this explanation will bring closure to the so-called National Mosque demolition fallacy”, he stated.
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