Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
There was tension in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital on Tuesday, as Muslims protested the proposed demolition of mosques built within the premises of petrol stations across the state.
Particularly, the government is starting with a petrol station built by Alhaji Suleman Akinbami at Adebayo area of Ado Ekiti.
The Muslims under the aegis of National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO), described the proposed demolition as an attempt to oppress them by the government of Mr. Ayodele Fayose.
The mosque, according to them, was built by a petrol dealer, Akinbami, within the premises of his petrol station in Adebayo and donated to Muslim community.
However, the commissioner denies that the demolition was targeted at any person, saying “it was done to save lives. How can anybody get approval for the building of a petrol station and later build a religious centre inside. This is not about mosques, churches too will be pulled down if found in such situation.”
It was gathered that the Commissioner for Lands, Mr. Taiwo Otitoju, had visited the mosque at about 5p.m. on Monday and marked it for demolition, on the grounds that worshippers can contact cancer from the radioactive emission from the petrol station.
The youth marched from the Central mosque at Oja Oba to Odo Ado Area to brief the Chief Imam of Ekiti State, Alhaji Jamiu Kewulere, before taking a detour and moved to the palace of Ewi, Oba Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe and Adebayo area, where the mosque was located.
Addressing the protesters, the Grand Imam promised that he would continue to liaise with the government for peaceful resolution of the issue.
“Islam is a religion of peace and we have respect for leadership, so I beg that you allow the Muslim leaders to look into this matter. We don’t want you to take the laws into your hands because this state belongs to all of us.
“We are going to meet with the governor to actually get the true position of things and we will do all that we need to do for peaceful resolution of this issue,” he said.
The Coordinator of NACOMYO in Ekiti, Mr. Tajudeen Ahmed, described the situation as akin to adding insult to injuries, saying Fayose could not afford to do this to them after allegedly shortchanging them with low appointments of Muslims in his government.
Ahmed accused Fayose of taking the action for political reasons, urging him to have a rethink in the interest of peace.
“The proposed demolition is curious and we see it as an attempt to further oppress us. Governor Fayose made appointments and he put very abysmal numbers of Muslims into his government despite that we constitute 35 per cent of the population in Ekiti.
“We are not violent people and e believe in leadership. We want to plead with Fayose to reverse this action. How can a mosque located behind a petrol station constitute a health hazard to worshipers? Besides, it has been in existence for over a decade and if it can affect the worshipers, what would then happen to those selling the product?”, he asked.
He added: “If truly this issue is not having political undertone, why did the government fail to issue requisite notices ? Islam is not a riotous organisation, we will continue to dialogue but this action is worrisome,” he said.
Akinbami, who is the Secretary of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), has been having a running battle with the governor over the latter’s attempt to demolish petrol stations built in residential areas.