Governor of Rivers State has declared that he does not want “foreigners” to erect permanent structure in the state. He was speaking on the controversial construction of a mosque project in the state capital.
This is as the Muslim community in the Garden City state are counting their loses from the demolition of their Central Mosque in Port Harcourt.
The building had reached appreciable level with beams and columns extensively used which indicate that millions of naira must have been spent. The area is marshy as a result was reclaimed by the Muslim community. This is after delays had prevented progress on the structure over five years.
Sources close to the the community in the central area of Port Harcourt told politicos that the demolition exercise “was like a sword of Damocles hanging over our heads for sometime.”
They said that they do not have any dispute over the ownership of the land perse. The problem according to our source is that it appears “certain interests” do not want the mosque to be built in that particular Trans Amadi area. Trans Amadi is a popular central part of the city.
“There are markets not too far from the mosque. So it is easy for Muslim faithful to walk down to the place for their prayers during trading hours,” we were told.
Also, information at our disposal say the altercation over development of the mosque began before the present administration in Rivers state. Under Rotimi Amaechi, former governor and current minister of transportation, the community was offered another land in the outskirts of the city for no clear reason.
Governor Nyesom Wike since taking over has equally used different tactics to deny the construction of the mosque. He has openly declared that he has no regrets demolishing the ongoing construction at the site, declaring that Rivers is a Christian state.
The governor told a delegation of the Rivers community that the Muslims can use the ground to pray, but should not out up any permanent structure. There are at least three churches in the vicinity. One of them being next door neighbours to the mosque, Faith Foundation Church led by Sam Amaga.
A source pointed out that the state government may have have come under pressure by some of those rival religious bodies to disallow the progress of the construction.
But on a visit to the site on Monday, the governor told reporters that calls from around Nigeria prompted him to see things for himself. “I received calls from several prominent Nigerians on the fake news being circulated online. I have come here with reporters and you can see there was no mosque here.
“It is most unfortunate that fickle-minded persons will claim that a mosque was demolished at this place when no mosque existed here. The story was concocted by mischief makers to score cheap points.”
However the governor who claimed there was no construction going on also said that some persons he failed to name were putting up illegal structure there which led to the removal of the “illegal structure.”
We are yet to verify if the mosque was approved for construction.