19 February 2013

Nigeria: Mosque Construction Tears FCDA Kubwa Community Apart

The Muslim community in FCDA Owner-Occupier estate Kubwa, Abuja, has raised alarm over incessant harassment from security operatives over the construction of a mosque in the area.

Chairman of the Muslim community in the estate, Mallam Usman Nababa and Secretary , Mallam Mukhtar Musa said the harassment is not unconnected with the several petitions written by unknown person over the existence of a mosque presently under construction in the area.

Nababa said sometime in 2005 the community applied to the FCDA for the allocation of a vacant plot of land in the estate to build a mosque.

Prior to that, the Bwari Area Council had given approval for a Nurul-Islam Mosque and school to be built vide a letter dated 15 May, 2001.

Several petitions were written by one Barrister Ishaku Golit Bakori to the FCDA Development Control Unit, against the construction of the mosque at its present location on the allegation that it was close to a church.

But Nababa said the FCDA duly approved the application for the allocation of the plot and also gave approvals for the building of the mosque vide Development Control Department letter dated 4thJuly, 2012.

Subsequently, he said an approval for setting out was also issued to Nurul-Islam Mosque/school by the same department vide letter dated 14th November, 2012, signed by Bldr. Ali O.A., Deputy Director (Building inspectorate) North, on behalf of the Director FCT Development Control Department.

But the residents of the estate have petitioned the FCT Administration and security agencies to stop the construction of the mosque in the interest of religious peace and harmony.

The residents, had in an earlier letter by their Lawyer, Mr. Ishaku Bakori, to the Coordinator of Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC) and the security agencies, said upon the construction of the mosque, Christians in the neighbourhood decided to build a church as well.

According to them, there is an area earmarked for the building of mosque/church, adding, however, that some Muslims went ahead to erect a mosque on a site not meant for it.

But Bakori stated that while the church authorities have complied with government's directive to pull down the structure because it is in a wrong place, construction is going on in the mosque.

Reacting to the allegation, FCDA Town Planning Officer, FHA Kubwa site office, Mallam Yusuf Sodangi, in an interview with Daily Trust, however said that several years ago both the church and mosque constructed temporarily in the area were asked to pull down the structures.

He said following a petition received, the Director, FCT Development Control Department, with some officials visited the site where the Muslim community presented genuine documents backing their claim that the site was allocated to them while the Christians have not done so.

Sodangi confirmed that the Muslim community had therefore developed the said mosque legally on a site earmarked as a religious ground (specifically for a mosque) in the Master Plan of the area.

He said the community had submitted application for building plan approval accordingly and was granted approval vide a letter Ref No.

FCDA/DC/BP/RI/8468 dated 04-Jul-12, signed by the Director Control on behalf of the Coordinator, AMMC.

However, he said the Muslim community overstepped the boundaries by contravening the setback construction by some meters which is a serious offence that should be immediately rectified.

But despite all these the mosque's Imam and some teachers were recently arrested by the Department of Security Service DSS and taken to their office for interrogation for allegations that were not disclosed.

Those arrested, according to the secretary of the mosque, Mallam Mukhtar Musa, include the Imam of the mosque, Mallam Ibrahim Suleiman, Is'haq Abbas, Mukhtar Amin and a messenger at the mosque, Abdullahi.

Mukhtar Musa said that at about 1.30 a.m. on Wednesday 30th January 2013, about a dozen heavily armed men wearing jackets with the inscription DSS in black pick-up trucks stormed the residence of Mallam Usman Nababa, the Muslim Community Chairman at the estate banging on his door, shouting and issuing threats of shooting if he failed to open the door before the count of three.

He said when the door was opened they forced themselves into the house without producing any search warrant and searched all the house ransacking the entire house.

Mukhtar Musa said that the men seized their phones and demanded to know whether the chairman knew Mallam Is'haq Abbas and Aminu Mukhtar.

He said the chairman took the armed men to the quarters of the aforementioned persons and these men descended on them, knocked them to the ground and pointed guns at the back of their heads threatening to shoot them dead.

The residence of the duo, Musa added, was also searched before they were taken away handcuffed and blindfolded to unknown locations where they have since been held incommunicado.

When officials of the community went to the FCT headquarters of the DSS to demand for their release, the issues raised centred once again on the construction of the mosque.

Officials of the Muslim community were again invited to the DSS office for a chat where all the necessary approvals obtained from the FCDA for the construction of the mosque were shown to officials of the DSS and they were also directed to take their enquiry to the FCDA development control to verify these facts.

Mallam Nababa said, "Those arrested are now labelled and being held on the ludicrous charge that they are members of the Islamic sect called Boko Haram. Nothing can be farther from the truth. These people are well known people in the community who have been living and working for the community several years without any problem."

"We are law abiding citizens and have been living in peace with our neighbours without any problem. There has never been any complaint to the Dutse Command Divisional Police Headquarter of the Nigeria Police FCT Command within the Estate against the Muslim community for any threat to peace or any other complaint whatsoever," Nababa stated.

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