By Philip Yatai
The Abuja National Mosque Management Board has debunked the news alleging that the FCT Minister, Mr Nyesom Wike, had ordered a partial demolition of the National Mosque, Abuja.
Amb. Haliu Shuaib, its Director, Finance and Administration, discredited the media reports at a news conference in Abuja on Friday.
Shuaib called on Muslim faithful to disregard what he described as a “campaign of calumny” against Wike.
He further described the report as the “handiwork of conflict merchants” bent on creating religious tension in the nation and casting the minister in bad light.
He explained that the Board’s visit to Wike on Wednesday was fruitful as he received them warmly and approved their requests.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that the Board, led by its Chairman, the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, had visited the minister to seek clarification on the status of its plots 63 and 99.
The visit followed FCTA’s three months’ grace to undeveloped plot owners to develop same or have the certification revoked.
Shuaib recalled that at the meeting, Wike extended the three-month ultimatum for the religious groups since they largely depend on free will donations from members.
“It has come to the attention of the Abuja National Mosque Management that there is a news item making the rounds in social and print media regarding the purported partial demolition of the National Mosque.
“The report is creating tension and anxiety amongst the Muslim Ummah in the country and beyond.
“The Chairman of the Abuja National Mosque Management Board and his delegation paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of the FCT, and were warmly received.
“Discussions were constructive and cordial; issues of mutual interest were discussed.
“As it affects the development of plot 99, the Minister was briefed that the development of the plot was receiving serious attention.
“On the development of Plot 63, opposite Yar’adua Centre, the Chairman briefed Wike that substantial part of the plot had been consumed by the proposed Inner Northern Expressway.
“The Chairman, therefore, requested to know the status of the plot and that the remaining part be re-allocated and appropriate replacement of the lost portion be given to the Mosque.
“To this request, the minister’s response was positive.
“On renovation of the Mosque, the Chairman appealed to Wike to use his good office to complete the rehabilitation/renovation of the National Mosque. He promised to look at the issue.
“The National Mosque wishes to inform the public that there was never a time the minister mentioned the demolition of any part of the National Mosque.
“The general public should, therefore, ignore the social and print media campaign and completely disregard the fake news in circulation,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Shehu Ahmad, Executive Secretary, FCDA, has said that the minister had not been briefed about the status of plot 63 belonging to the mosque, part of which was affected by a road interchange.
Ahmad explained that Wike gave the FCDA 24 hours to brief him on the issue with a view to compensate the Mosque for the affected portion of the land.
“We have complied with the directive and have briefed the minister who immediately approved that the excised portion be taken note of with a view to re-issue a title to compensate them for the lost portion.
“The minister had assured the delegation of the support of the FCT Administration in the maintenance of the National Mosque as well as the National Christian Centre as National Monuments.
“The above explanation is the true and correct reflection of what actually transpired as confirmed by the National Mosque Management Board.
“It is, therefore, hoped that this explanation will close the so-called National Mosque demolition falsehood,” he said. (NAN)