There was palpable tension in the commercial city of Onitsha yesterday when the Muslim community comprising Igbos, Hausas and Yorubas resisted alleged plot by the Anambra state government to demolish their Central Mosque located close to the Bridgehead market. Saturday Nation gathered that the Muslims numbering over 1000 and chanting “Allah is the greatest”, maintained that the plan by the state government to destroy their place of worship was a fallout of the cold war against them in the state.
Addressing journalists yesterday during the protest, the leader of the Muslims, Alhaji Habib Faruk, said they have already compiled with the state government’s decision to beautify the Bridgehead and Upper Iweka axis by removing all their shops as directed, adding the said mosque does not fall within the area marked for demolition.
Alhaji Faruk who led the protest, condemned the manner members of the Anambra state task force under the Transition Committee Chairman of Onitsha South descended on the Muslims during their Friday prayer and forced them out of the mosque.
He maintained that the action of the state government might not be unconnected with the current activities of the dreaded Boko Haram in some Northern parts of the country.He pleaded with the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, to prevail on the state government to approach the issue with caution in view of the security situation in the country.
“We are not resisting the decision of the state government to beautify the Bridgehead but the plan to demolish our place of worship is more political and could result in breakdown of law and order because no Muslim would stand by and watch their place of worship demolished for no just cause”
Meanwhile, the Transition Committee Chairman of Onitsha South, Mr. Okechukwu Ezeani, said the actionof the state government was not politically or religiously influenced, but a measure to clean up the entrance to the state.
He said “we are not targeting any mosque.Even if a cathedral is standing in the place marked out for demolition, it would be pulled down, so, the insinuation that the state government is witch hunting Muslims is unfounded and malicious”
It took the intervention of the Commander of the 302 Artillery Regiment, Onitsha , Col J. T Durowaiye, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Balla Nasarawa and the Onitsha Area Commander, Mr. B.C. Wordu who drafted detachments of armed security men to the area to bring the situation under control.
Source: The Nation Newspaper