The Management Board of the National Mosque in Abuja has called on Nigerians, especially the Muslim faithful, to disregard the campaign of calumny against the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, saying the reports that the Minister had approved a partial demolition of the national monument was a fake news.
The Board, while describing the report as the handiwork of conflict merchants bent on creating religious tension in the nation and casting the minister in a bad light, said the Wednesday’s visit to the minister by the leadership of the Board was fruitful as he received them warmly and granted approval to their requests.
The Board, led by its chairman, the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, had visited the minister on Wednesday to seek clarification on the status of its plots 63 and 99, in the wake of the FCT Administration’s drive to recover all ground rent debts.
At the meeting, Wike extended the three-month ultimatum to religious groups since they largely depend on freewill donations from members.
“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 some group or religion or ethnic group, no, it is in 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,” the minister had stated at the meeting.
Stating that President Bola Tinubu administration respects all faiths and would not discriminate against anyone, the minister recalled how as governor of Rivers State, he was accused of demolishing a mosque that never existed in the first place.
However, Director of Finance and Administration of the National Mosque, Ambassador Haliu Shuaib, and Imam of the Mosque, Dr Muhammad Kabir Adam, while addressing a press conference hosted by the Executive Secretary of Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Engr. Shehu Hadi Ahmad, said: “The Mosque is, hereby, debunking the news of the partial demolition of the National Mosque and wishes to set the records straight.
“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 cordial and 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.”
They explained that the Etsu Nupe, therefore, requested to know the current status of the plots 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 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 an 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,” they said.
Earlier, the FCDA boss said the FCT minister had told his guests that he had not been briefed about the status of a plot belonging to the National Mosque, part of which is affected by a road interchange.
Accordingly, Wike has given the FCDA 24 hours to bring him up-to-speed on the issue to compensate the mosque for the portion of its undeveloped land, Plot 63, lost to the road interchange.
“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 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.