MOTTO: DIALOGUE, NOT VIOLENCE

1st April, 2024

PRESS RELEASE:

S.O.S TO PRESIDENT TINUBU: RETURN LAGOS MUSLIM PRAYER GROUND – MURIC

 

An Islamic advocacy organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has sent a Save Our Soul (S.O.S) message to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the continued seizure of the Muslim praying Ground at Obalende, Lagos, despite an order by former President Buhari that the place should be returned to the Lagos Muslim Community who are the rightful owners.

 

In a statement made available to journalists on Monday, 1st April, 2024, the Executive Director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, described the continued seizure of the praying ground as illegal, unjust and the mother of all impunities.

 

The full statement reads:

 

“The Lagos Muslim Community is now left without a befitting praying ground for its Salah (‘Id) prayers. Its only known praying ground at Obalende has long been seized by the Nigerian security agencies who have refused to vacate the place even after ex-President Muhammadu Buhari issued an order to that effect.

“The land was initially given to the Lagos Muslim Community by the fourth colonial Governor General of Nigeria, Sir Donald Cameron (1931 – 1935), through an Indenture on August 9, 1931, ‘to HOLD the same unto, and to the use of the Grantees forever, free from all encumbrances.’

“However, the praying ground was commandeered by the army and other security agencies during the military era and the Muslim rightful owners were denied access even on Salah days. This compelled the Lagos Muslim Community to look for uncomfortably small empty spaces around Lagos Island. It created a lot of discomfort.

“This situation informed MURIC’s intervention and its resultant press statement captioned ‘Don’t Commandeer Obalende Praying Ground: MURIC Tells Army, LASG’ which was issued on 27th April, 2022 (https://newtelegraphng.com/muric-to-nigerian-army-vacate-obalende-muslim-praying-ground/;https://muslimrightsmuric.blogspot.com/2022/04/dont-commandeer-obalende-praying-ground.html;).

“Seeing that the security agencies did not shift ground, a delegation of the Lagos Muslim Community met former President Muhammadu Buhari at the Villa on March 22nd, 2023 to table their request. Thereafter, the ex-President constituted a powerful five-man committee to investigate the matter and report back to him.

“The five-man committee, under the chairmanship of Professor Ibrahim Gambari, former Chief of Staff, had the Minister of Works and Housing, the Minister of Defence, the Director-General of the DSS, the Chief of Defence Staff and the Permanent Secretary, State House as members.

“On completion of its assignment and submission of its report, ex-President Buhari issued an order for the return of the land in dispute. This was on Monday, 28th May, 2023. The order was published in several newspapers.

“MURIC is baffled that the presidential order which was given more than ten months ago has not been obeyed. We learnt from the Muslim Community that the occupiers are asking for an official letter stating the exact wordings of the order before they can vacate the land.

“This is most disturbing. Do we call this redtape procrastination, crass ineptitude or sheer sabotage? What can be more official than a statement issued by the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on that fateful day? Who is imagining forgery here even when the statement was published by all the mainstream newspapers including the Punch, Guardian and Leadership?

 

The links to the story of the presidential order is still readily available in cyberspace (https://punchng-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/punchng.com/buhari-orders-return-of-prayer-grounds-to-lagos-muslim-community/; https://guardian.ng/news/buhari-wades-into-obalende-muslim-praying-ground-crisis/; https://leadership.ng/surrender-obalende-eid-prayer-ground-to-lagos-muslims-buhari-orders-dodan-barracks/; etc.)

 

“We are miffed to our marrows by this bureaucratic namby-pamby. How can a presidential order be defied? It is baffling. A presidential order is above every other declaration. It is above any military directive or memorandum from the head of any security agency. It is the law. We believe that the order remains valid and any attempt to disregard it amounts to rebellion.

 

“A portion of land which belongs to the Muslim Community was confiscated by military fiat. Now the Commander-in-Chief has given the order to quit. How can any disciplined security agency disobey that order? It smirks of indiscipline, insurbordination and sabotage.

 

“Here is a good example of how and why the citizens become radicalized. Why should government and its agencies themselves ignore the rule of law? A legitimately acquired Muslim property is unlawfully seized by security agencies who still defy a presidential order to hand over the property. It is incomprehensible. It is an invitation to anarchy.

 

“This necessitates a Save Our Soul (S.O.S) message to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the president and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Only Mr. President can issue a final order for the security agencies to vacate the Obalende Muslim praying ground with immediate effect so that we can observe the coming Salah prayer on the spot.

 

“Urgent action is needed before Lagos Muslims rise in protest at the confiscated praying ground. By the way, can we imagine a scenario whereby Muslims converge on the spot on Salah day to protest? Is it impossible? Do the authorities think Lagos Muslims are not conscious enough of their Allah-given fundamental human rights to be ready to protest against this injustice, this impunity, this illegality?

 

“Lagos Island is totally and completely choked. There is no single open space for Muslims to observe the Salah prayer coming up on 10th April, 2024 or 11th April, 2024 or as announced by the national leadership of the Ummah, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’d Abubakar.

 

“MURIC appeals to the Chief of Staff, Rt. Hon. Femi Hakeem Gbajabiamila and all the serving Muslim ministers in the cabinet of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to bring this S.O.S message to the attention of the president and C-In-C as a matter of utmost urgency. He may not be aware of it at all.

 

“It is most likely that the president will come to Lagos to celebrate Salah next week. We therefore implore the Oba of Lagos to intercede on behalf of Lagos Muslims by visiting Mr. President and raising the issue before him when he comes home for Salah. In like manner, we suggest that the Muslim Community should raise a small delegation of three or five Muslims who will visit the president to discuss the issue during his visit to Lagos.

 

“President Tinubu should not allow this illegality to stand. As the C-In-C, he has overall power over all the security agencies. He can order a cessation of the impunity. He can inject a heavy dose of civility and the rule of law in them. Only compliance with the earlier presidential order to vacate the Muslim praying ground at Obalende will make any sense.

 

“In keeping with its avowed motto, ‘Dialogue, No Violence’, MURIC will continue to use civility, decorum and all legitimate and peaceful means to register the grievances of Nigerian Muslims. We therefore strongly appeal to the Lagos Muslim Community in particular and all Nigerian Muslims in general, to bear with the situation until President Tinubu takes action on it. We have no scintilla of doubt that this will happen soon because we have a listening president.”

 

#Presidency

#Nigerian Army

#DSS

#VacateMuslimPrayingGround

 

Professor Ishaq Akintola,

Executive Director,

Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC).

 

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