By Akanimo Sampson
With Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State (Peoples Democratic Party) locked in a veiled political war with his Kano State counterpart, Abdullahi Ganduje (All Progressives Congress) over a purported demolition of a mosque in the big oil state, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) appears to be busy fanning the embers to speed up the disintegration of Nigeria.
Nigeria appears to be a country dangerously polarised by religion (Christianity and Islam) and geo-political rivalry (North and South) since 2015 and the Muslim North seems to be viciously taking advantage of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to strangulate the Christian South.
The seeming dangerous political scheme in the troubled country is playing out in the Ganduje threat to take Wike to court for purportedly demolishing a mosque in Rivers, and in the Northern group’s claim that job opportunities meant for indigenes of the northern states had been hijacked by people from the South.
While Wike admonished his Kano counterpart to know that he is not Gandollar or a man who enjoyed bribery and falsehood, the CNG was speaking in Kano on Sunday on the state of the nation, as it affected the North.
Spokesman of the group, Abdulazeez Suleiman, while lamenting that northerners were being denied employment opportunities in the South, added, ‘’all vacant positions available in the North, as guaranteed by the local content clause of the Federal character provision in the Constitution, had been surrendered to southerners, as a result of the negligence of the northern elite, who pose as political leaders of the region.
‘’Whereas, the local content clause stipulates that all levels 01 to 06 positions in every government establishments must go to indigenes of the host communities in the North, the reverse is the case’’, and described the North as systematically crippled by multiple security challenges, which threaten the region’s population and political unity, as well as inhibit its economic and social activities.
According to him, ‘’recurring violence, involving cattle theft, abductions for ransom, attacks on civilian targets and other forms of banditry all over the North, poses a serious threat to peace and security, with the uncoordinated and inadequate responses by the Federal and state authorities, thereby deepening mistrust and perception of the authorities as biased.’’
The coalition took on Governor Wike who openly declared Rivers as a Christian state and went ahead to prove it by allegedly demolishing a mosque in Port Harcourt, claiming that the governor’s action was in breach of the guaranteed freedom of every Nigerian to practise their faith unhindered by any legislation or obstacle imposed by a state or a community.
The group also accused the Lagos State Government of apprehending and humiliating dozens of northerners, who were seeking opportunities to lawfully run their businesses in the state, the same way people from other parts of the country carried out their respective trades of choice in the North.
The Northern group is demanding from the Buhari administration to proof of its capacity to protect citizens in all parts of the North, as minimum evidence that it is serious about its responsibilities
In the mean time, the PDP Governor Wike said it was baseless for the APC Governor Ganduje to threaten to take him to court when he never demolished any mosque in Rivers, accusing him of being in the habit of making irresponsible comments about the State.
Ganduje had threatened to take Wike to court over the purported demolition of a mosque in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
Special Assistant to Wike on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, in a statement said Ganduje was yet to realise that Wike is not dollars that he could pocket recklessly and sheepishly: ‘’Abdulahi Umar Ganduje, a man who enjoys bribery and falsehood, must realise that Governor Governor Wike is not dollars that he pockets with ridiculous abandon. Governor Wike is a lover of the rule of law, due process, religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence. He cannot be intimidated by the illiterate threat of lawsuit from a man of low moral standing.
‘’Gandollars, sorry, Ganduje is still talking because he thinks that Nigerians have forgotten about his crime against his people. I saw a statement released by Ganduje. He said that he will sue Governor Wike over the falsehood that a Mosque was demolished in Port Harcourt. For the umpteenth time, no Mosque was demolished by Governor Wike. No Mosque was demolished by the Rivers State Government.
‘’The story was a fabrication by one Alhaji Tobacco. The fabrication was orchestrated by Daily Trust and The Nation Newspapers for obvious mischievous political reasons. These baseless press releases confirm the ugly plot. Several journalists and civil society groups have visited the disputed land and no traces of any Mosque were found at the location. Governor Wike personally led journalists to the disputed land and the world saw that no mosque existed there.
‘’On Saturday, the Rivers State Islamic Leader/Vice President General, Rivers State Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Nasir Uhor stated that there was no physical structure of a Mosque at the disputed land at Rainbow Town in Port Harcourt. He said the insinuation that any structure was at that location was not true. He also admitted that a Rivers State High Court confirmed that the disputed land belongs to the Rivers State Government.
‘’Suit Number PHC/986/2012 between Registered Trustees of Trans-Amadi Mosque, Port Harcourt (Claimant) and the Commissioner, Ministry of Urban Development and Physical Planning, Rivers State, the Governor of Rivers State and the Attorney General of Rivers State (Defendants) was resolved by Justice G.O. Omereji on Tuesday, 27th November, 2018. This matter pre-dated Governor Wike.
‘’Justice Omereji of the Rivers State High Court held that: “The defendants have in Exhibits J, J1 and J2 inclusive of Exhibit K, which is the Certificate of Title, established that the land, the subject matter of this suit, was acquired in 1959 by the Government.
‘’My humble opinion is that the claimants have not established that they have better title to the land, the subject matter of this suit and they have not established that at the material time they were in possession and that the defendants do not have better title to the land.’’
The court further ruled that the claimants had no approval to build on the disputed land,” the statement said.
According to the statement, the entire world was aware of the above facts and that nobody had circulated any photographs or videos of the said Mosque that Ganduje and other APC Chieftains were harping on, as they merely wanted to use a non-existent Mosque story to score ugly political points.
‘’Pray, what redress would Ganduje be seeking in court when he sues Governor Wike? Would Ganduje tell the court to relegate the Rivers State Ministry of Urban Development and Physical Planning and enthrone its Kano State Counterpart? Would Ganduje be asking the Court to hand over jurisdiction to Kano State High Court?
‘’Under the Land Use Act, the governor is responsible for allocation of land in all urban areas to individuals’ resident in the state or to organizations for residential, agricultural, commercial and other purposes . Perhaps, Ganduje would be telling the Court to deny the Rivers State Governor of such powers, while he retains same powers under the Land Use Act in Kano State. The Press Statement attributed to Ganduje is a confirmation that this country is at its lowest point. This is the worst form of administrative ignorance’’, the statement added.
It further said as a governor with a bruised ego, Ganduje thought that this religious falsehood would afford him a backdoor entry into the national good book, but noted sadly that he had exposed himself as a terribly ignorant leader who basked in baseless claims.
The statement said the disputed land was already before the court, as the Registered Trustees of Trans-Amadi Mosque, Port Harcourt (Claimant) sued the Rivers State Government in 2012, saying that having lost at the Court of First instance, these trustees had appealed the judgment.
‘’On December 8, 2016 , Abdulahi Umar Ganduje, as Chairman of the Rivers State APC Election Rerun Campaign Committee, threatened violence on Rivers people at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium. Alongside several APC Governors, Ganduje Ganduje called on APC Thugs to unleash mayhem on Rivers electorate for the purpose of rigging the rerun elections. He claimed that the aim was to ensure that the APC took control of the House of Assembly for the purpose of impeaching Governor Wike.
Adding, it said, ‘’the APC Federal Government deployed 57,000 security personnel, billions of naira, millions of dollars, Jet Fighters and Gunboats for the rerun elections. Rivers people stood with Governor Wike and the APC was roundly defeated. Rivers people rejected the plot to pocket Governor Wike by the APC rigging machine.’’