The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), an Islamic group, says the Borno State Government under Governor Babagana Zulum has demolished more mosques than churches in the last two years.
The group said 11 mosques and four churches were demolished in the state in the last two years.
MURIC spoke in reaction to the controversy over the recent demolition of a church in Maiduguri by the Borno State Geographic Information System (BOGIS)
PREMIUM TIMES reported that one person was shot dead and five others injured when church members clashed with officials pulling down EYN Church in Moduganari area of the state capital last Thursday.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had on Saturday condemned the demolition and the deadly violence that accompanied it, alleging that the state government wants to wipe out churches in Borno State.
But the Muslims rights group in a statement on Wednesday said the evidence it had showed the ongoing demolition exercise in Borno was not targeted at any religion.
According to MURIC, Muslims have suffered more from the activities of BOGIS than their Christian brethren.
In the statement signed by its Director, Ishaq Akintola, MURIC said it investigated the complaints over the demolition of the church last week.
It said the “coordinated propaganda” that BOGIS was being used by the state government against churches was not true.
MURIC said it sent a team to Maiduguri to investigate the claims by CAN following the unfortunate incident at EYN Moduganari church.
It said contrary to the claims, the team discovered that more mosques have so far been demolished than churches.
“Contrary to a coordinated propaganda over the demolition of an EYN church in Maiduguri, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) can authoritatively report that the Borno State Geographic Information Systems (BOGIS) created by Governor Babagana Umara Zulum, actually demolished 11 mosques and four churches, in the metropolis,” the statement reads.
“The exercise began from 29th May 2019 up till last week.
“A team of investigators working with MURIC visited each of the sites where the mosques were demolished, interviewed residents and gathered photographs and data that showed locations of each of the 11 mosques and dates of their demolition by officials of Borno State Government for violation of purpose approved in residential titles, which complied with a 2010 Government White paper in response to the 2009 Boko Haram insurgency, which strictly prohibited the conversion of any residential house to a place of worship, in all parts of Borno State.
“Findings showed that two mosques were demolished by BOGIS on 11th March 2020, around Fato Sandi, behind works department in Maiduguri, not far from the Shehu of Borno’s palace, who is next to the Sultan in the hierarchy of Nigeria’s leadership of the Muslim community. The Shehu is the Vice President of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA)
“Two mosques were again demolished by BOGIS on the same day (March 11, 2020), at old Musami complex along Jos road in Maiduguri. Again, a mosque was demolished on the same day opposite former NITEL.
“Another mosque was demolished on April 15, 2020, along Kano Road, adjoining Bulumkutu, Yola Electricity Distribution Company, YEDC. Two mosques were again demolished, one near a hotel in Galadima and another near behind Timber shade, in Baga Road.”
MURIC said its investigators further discovered that “five other mosques conspicuously located at the Customs round-about in the western part of Maiduguri-Bama road were also demolished by BOGIS on 23rd January 2020, for what the government called ‘overriding public interest.”
It said the 11 mosques were demolished either for violating residential purposes in their allocation titles or for overriding public interest.
“Of the 11 mosques demolished, five were for overriding public interest and six for violations of residential titles whereas all the four churches demolished (including the EYN) were strictly demolished for converting residential houses to churches, the same way six mosques were demolished.!”
MURIC said it understands that the measures taken for demolishing the places of worship complied with “a 2010 white paper which is against illegal places of worship as measures of regulation.”
MURIC had also said the state government rebuilt seven churches destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents in different parts of southern Borno state.
“We are nonplussed by the immense false propaganda flying around on this issue and we invite anyone who is genuinely in search of the truth to also do his or her findings.
“We advise armchair critics to be more enterprising. A single phone call to a friend or acquaintance in Maiduguri will debunk all the noise.
“For the first time in ‘geography’, Nigerians are blessed with an uncommon governor making things work in an uncommon way. Governor Babagana Umara Zulum may not have come from Mars, but his handiwork appears alien. It is satanic to attempt to bring down this wonderful performer via religious blackmail. Leave Governor Zulum alone. Allow him to concentrate on his good work,” the statement said.
The CAN chairman in Borno State had last week said at a press conference that Christians resort to converting their private home spaces to churches because the state government was denying churches land allocation.