The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), an Islamic human rights organisation has slammed Governor Nyesom Wike and his administration over claims that the governor ordered the demolition of the Trans-Amadi mosque in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital.
In a statement released by its Director, Ishaq Akintola on Wednesday, the Islamic group called Governor Wike a pathological liar.
Wike, on his part, has denied these claims, advising Muslims in the state not to allow themselves to be used by disgruntled politicians to cause chaos in the state.
“Wike is a pathological liar. He denied pulling down Trans-Amadi mosque. That is a lie from the pit of Jahannam. So what happened to Trans-Amadi mosque? Was it knocked down by invading elephants? Was there a cyclone in Port Harcourt? Wike can say that to the marines. Nigerians have seen a manifestation of the five evils Chamberlain spoke about in Rivers State: brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution.
“Wike should have known the implications of his outbursts. Just two months ago (June 2019), he said, ‘Rivers State is a Christian state and I have no apologies for saying that.’ A cleric from the South West who was in the gathering commended him for making such a declaration. Any reasonable person will tie the two incidents together. We are constrained to congratulate Wike for walking his talk. It was like, ‘I told you people that this state is a Christian state and you are still building a new mosque. Boys! Go and pull it down!’
“His latest words, I did not demolish any mosque’ are therefore coming too late. They are afterthoughts and sheer play on semantics. He admitted pulling down ‘an illegal structure’. But how can a building whose plan was approved by the state government before you came into office become illegal? For the avoidance of doubt, the survey plan number of the building is AI/RV2009/D13 and the building plan number is RTP/09/617. Both were approved by the state government since 2009.
As far as Nigerians are concerned, those two documents are vital and a mosque is a mosque, whether it is a completed structure, half or quarter completed. Muslims congregate there and worship. There are uncompleted mosques all over Nigeria where Muslims worship daily. The case of Trans-Amadi Mosque cannot be isolated.
Mosques take years to finish in Nigeria these days for several reasons but it is common to see Muslims using them even as they are under construction. Funds come in trickles because mosques collect no tithes and foreign aid has been strangulated by United States embargo on aid from Arab countries whereas foreign aid continues to flow into churches, mostly from the same US.
Just yesterday, a church leader boasted that it planted 65,000 churches in six months. He has our best wishes but no state governor has the right to demolish our mosques no matter how poor they may appear. We cherish the devotion of Muslim worshippers and the serenity of our poor mosques more than any outward embellishment. Didn’t the Bible say ‘God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth? (John 4:24)
Your Excellency, pictures do not lie. Neither do video clips, unless they are doctored. We watched three video clips where you declared that Rivers State is a Christian state. Can you deny that? We raw the rubble where there used to be a mosque structure. But you are now denying that you demolished a mosque. Who does not understand semantics?
Oh, we can see clearly. It became illegal because it is a mosque and it must go down because no new mosque must emerge after the ‘almighty’ governor has declared the state as a Christian state. A la l’etat c’est moi, n’est c’est pas? It had better not be. Even Louis XIV to whom that infamous declaration is attributed regretted his feudal absolutism on his deathbed when he said, ‘Je m’en vais, mais l’Etat demeurera toujours’, i.e. ‘I depart, but the State shall always remain’.
We remind Governor Wike that there are rules of engagement in every decent society and he must respect those rules. Wike is governor today but like the French king, Louis, he must go one day. Wike’s declaration of the state as a Christian state stands in contradistinction to Section 10 of the Nigerian Constitution. It is therefore unconstitutional and his demolition of the mosque is ultra vires.
Wike is definitely not the only Christian governor in a Christian-dominated state. Ten other states in the sub-region have very large Christian population: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, and Imo. But Wike is the only one who declared his state a Christian state. Wike wants to be more Christian than Jesus. What of the other governors? Are they not Christians as well? Who did this to Rivers State?
“The executive governor of Rivers State is now running from pillar to post in order to cover his tracks. But it is too late. Words are like eggs, they break into fragments once they are allowed to drop. Again, we must note that he repeated those words on three different occasions and in the presence of journalists. Once is happenstance, twice is a coincidence. The third time is enemy action. True to his words, Wike took a wicked decision, viz, to pull down the house of God.
“It is now clear to all and sundry that Wike does not look before he leaps. He acts on impulse. He should have known the implication of pulling down a mosque two months after declaring his state a Christian state. That is the question. That is the crux of the problem. They say action speaks louder than voice. This demolition is even worse than Wike’s unconstitutional declaration. We have no scintilla of doubt that Wike’s wicked action is a followup to his declaration.
“Our message to Governor Wike is this: Your Excellency sir, verily indeed we say unto you, you have bulldozers, we have Allah. You may bring down our mosque. You cannot remove iman (faith) and piety (taqwa) from our hearts. Islam is in our lives and a million bulldozers cannot extirpate it.
“To deceive Nigerians after demolishing a mosque, Wike argued that there were other mosques still standing in Port Harcourt. We reject Wike’s warped thinking. Those mosques he referred to were built before he came to power. They were built during the reign of governors who were not boastful, arrogant, belligerent and power drunk.
“It will be in Wike’s best interest to invite the management of Trans-Amadi Mosque which he pulled down wilfully, consciously and deliberately. That action is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional in view of a court declaration that the property belongs to the Muslims.
“Wike is advised to undo what he has done by engaging the management of that mosque in dialogue. Wike must refund the total cost of what he caused to demolish and allow construction work to resume at the site. Only this can douse the tension generated by Wike’s wicked act. In addition, the Roi Soleil of Rivers State is advised to, in his remaining days in office, engage in tactical withdrawal of his inflammatory, unguarded and unconstitutional statement about his state being a Christian state.
“Meanwhile, we implore Nigerian Muslims to remain calm and law abiding. There should be no tit for tat. Not all Christian governors are like the governor of Rivers State and definitely not all Christians are as bellicose, militant, boastful, arrogant and mischievious as Nyesome.
“Wike’s wickedness may surpass that of Herod but thousands of Nigerian Christians are kind-hearted, warm and friendly. We therefore advise against any revenge action by any Muslim governor against any church building. Neither should any Muslim individual or group attack any individual Christian or group of Christians in any part of the country.
“We invite Nigerians to love one another regardless of religion and ethnicity. We urge peace-loving Christians to ignore the divisive, autocratic and self-righteous antics of Wike. This man cannot be the ambassador of Nigerian Christians. We need peace to build a prosperous Nigeria. We are therefore willing to live in peace with our Christian neighbours.
“In summary, we assert that Wike is a pathological liar for denying his role in the demolition of Trans-Amadi Mosque in PortHarcourt. We demand adequate compensation for the destroyed mosque and the right to resume construction at the site with immediate effect. Finally, we extend our hand of fellowship to peace-loving and law-abiding Christians throughout Nigeria.”