By Ali Abare Abubakar
Tension is mounting in Dutsen Alhaji, a suburb of Abuja over alleged plans to demolish the Hudaibiyya Mosque located by the side of the market recently demolished in the area.
Investigations by our correspondent reveal that already, Muslim fateful are mobilizing to resist the alleged attempt to demolish the Mosque even as they further alleged of clandestine moves by some invested interest who are bent on seeing that the Mosque is removed from the area.
Peoples Daily learnt that residents and traders around the hitherto popular local market in the area, were thrown into panic mood when they woke to the sight of bulldozers from the authorities of the Bwari Area Council, which razed the market, last Thursday.
Our correspondent gathered that as early as 6 am yesterday (Tuesday), in an effort to protect the structure from being destroyed, some members of the Hudaibiyya Mosque mobilized themselves to physically stand in the way of the demolition party.
A cleric (Named not given), who addressed members shortly after morning devotion at the Mosque, harped on the significance of peaceful co-existence in Islam, stressing that Muslims are admonished to turn the other cheek when provoked.
The cleric however described as unacceptable moves by some interested parties to seek for the removal of the Mosque based on claims that those performing prayers there are “Non indigenes.”
“I was born here in Dutse, I gave birth to children here in Dutse and I have grandchildren born here in Dutse. How can someone refer to me as a non-indigene?,” he sought to know.
Explaining further, the cleric narrated the history of the establishment of the Mosque, saying it was first built as a temporary structure after a prolonged tussle with locals in the area, who he said didn’t took it kindly to the idea of building a Mosque there.
“We started on a temporary structure but now have this permanent structure in place through communal effort.
They said we should remove our carpets, tiles and roofing sheets, if we did that, are we not using our hands to destroy our worship centre?
“We will not allow them to destroy our Mosque and if they insist, they should be ready to bury some of us here” the cleric vowed.
Meanwhile, in a chat with Peoples Daily, chairman of the Mosque, Alhaji Ibrahim Shuaibu, who confirmed the disquiet over the rumoured plans to demolish the Mosque, however said Muslims in the area are not against any plan by the authorities to demolish the structure but pleaded for time to enable them make alternative arrangement.
He argued that the Mosque is not actually part of the demolished market, stressing that they are not against plans to demolish the Mosque, but want appropriate notice served on them.
He therefore urged the authorities to do the right thing by giving them appropriate notice in accordance to the law.
“Even at that, government should give us a replacement or if the authorities deem it fit, since the land on which the market was situated, is being sold out, we are fully ready to buy the portion of land on which our Mosque was built to enable us continue with our worship,” the chairman said.
Shuaibu added that however that the Muslim community in the area is ready to take the matter up with the authorities in the case that some persons with selfish interest insist that their right to freedom of worship is trampled upon.
“The issue of indigene or none indigene in Abuja does not arise as there are laws guiding the establishment of the FCT and there are laws governing the existence of every Nigerian including foreigners, for a comfortable stay and the right to worship.”
“We are ready to resist any attempt to infringe on our right to worship by some people who are insisting that the Mosque be destroyed by reporting the matter to the authorities,” he stressed.
Furthermore, the chairman of the Mosque, reiterated that its members are ready to follow up the matter with a view to arriving at a peaceful resolution, saying however that they are yet to get any official notice on the alleged demotion of their worship centre.
“We have not gotten a legal notice either from the Abuja Development Control or the Bwari Area Council as the case maybe, as to the existence or nonexistence of this Mosque.
“So we are calling on the authorities and the so-called indigenes to be aware of and to protect the rights of each and every person that is staying within the city” Shuaibu said.
When contacted on the issue, Public Relation Officer (PRO) of FCT Development Control Department, Kalu Emetu, however denied knowledge of any planned demolition of any Mosque in Dutse Alhaji.
He informed our reporter that his organization is not involved with the demolition of any market in that area.
Peoples Daily recalls that following the demolition of Dutse Alhaji market, traders in the area were forced to relocate to a new structure being put in place to accommodate them.
Checks revealed that many affected traders are still in state of confusion, because they could not afford the ‘exorbitant’ fees being charged for stalls in the new market, just a short distance away from the former ground which some residents said have so far being demolished twice.