An Islamic human rights outfit, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has debunked the claim made by the Governor of Oyo State, Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde, that Bodija Mosque was built on part of the land earmarked for the recreation centre. MURIC asserted that this was not true because Bodija Muslims bought the land on which the mosque was built.
MURIC’s statement which was signed by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, was issued on Monday, 19th July, 2021.
“Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State yesterday reacted to our allegation that he commandeered the Muslim praying ground situated at Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State. Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, the governor claimed that ‘Part of the land which was designed as a recreation centre since the creation of Bodija Estate was used to build a mosque and a church’.
“This is a blatant lie. The governor has made it look as if Oyo State government gave the Muslims the parcel of land on which Bodija mosque was built. We have it on good authority that Bodija Muslims paid for the land on which the mosque was built and the Muslims had to engage the electicity authorities to relocate the tension wires on the land.
“Makinde is trying to create a diversion. He is seeking to divert attention from the Muslim praying ground to the mosque whereas the issue in contention is the former. What we accused the governor of seizing is the Muslim praying ground, not the mosque. Why is he turning it round? We will not allow Makinde to play the game according to his own rules. So we are not discussing the mosque.
“The question we asked in our statement was ‘Has Makinde Seized Bodija Muslim Praying Ground?’ Our question was not ‘Has Makinde seized Bodija Mosque?’ But the artful dodger is trying to manoeuver his way out of the question. However, he shot himself in the foot while being too clever by half. He inadvertently admitted that he is building a recreation centre.
“Mr. Governor Sir, on what location are you building your recreation centre? Is it not on the Muslim praying ground? But that was exactly what we accused you of doing. Statements like ‘The new construction will not in any way tamper with the existing mosque in the area’ is not only diversionary. It is deceitful. Nigerians are not fools.
“Nigerians can read between the lines. Makinde is actually constructing a recreation centre on the open field which Muslims have been using as Id praying ground for decades. He expects Muslims to start using the mosque for our ‘Id prayers. Unfortunately his advisers failed to explain to him that there is a difference between a mosque and an ‘Id ground. Muslims observe their daily prayers and the Friday Jumu’ah service in the mosque but they need an open space for the ‘Id prayer.
“This is because a much larger number of worshippers come for ‘Id prayer. As for Bodija Id praying ground, worshippers troop in from as far away as Mokola, Coca Cola, Sango, etc to converge on the place. Bodija mosque cannot contain them. So the question of ‘Why don’t they use their mosque’ does not arise.
“For the avoidance of doubts, our press release of 17th July, 2021 was a fact-finding statement. The report of the seizure of the Muslim praying ground came to us from within Bodija Muslim community. However, in keeping with the teaching of Islam that reports should be verified (Glorious Qur’an 49:6), we asked the Oyo State government to confirm or deny the report.
“But instead of confirming or denying it, Makinde has resorted to lies and deceit. He also labeled MURIC as a group bent on inciting the populace when he said, ‘The peace-loving people of Oyo State are enjoined to disregard every attempt to disrupt the fragile peace of our dear state’. Makinde is simply afraid of his own shadow because MURIC has never been known to forment trouble. Our avowed motto is, Dialogue, No Violence’. Disruption of peace is not in our character.
“Makinde is adding salt to injury. His mission is to inflict as much collateral damage as possible on the Muslims of Oyo State. Both MURIC and the Muslim Community of Oyo State have accused him of political marginalization. His appointments are heavily skewed against Muslims. Makinde can tell as many lies as he likes. He can blackmail as many groups as he desires. But that will only last for as long as he remains in the government house.
“Politicians understand only one language, at least in a democracy and that language is the next election. Oyo State Muslims spoke to the late Bola Ige in the language he understood. The latter lost his second term election. The vulture is a patient bird. Oyo State Muslim Community will speak to Makinde in the language he understands. The clock is ticking.”