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No, FCT Minister not planning to demolish parts of Abuja National Mosque

Claim:  Some viral social media posts claimed that FCT Minister Nyesom Wike plans to demolish part of Abuja National Mosque.

Verdict: False. No part of the mosque’s building is earmarked for demolition.

Full Text

Some social media users have suggested that Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister Nyesom Wike has ordered the demolition of Abuja National Mosque and the revocation of the lands allocated to many other mosques.

In a tweet that has gathered hundreds of thousands of impressions, a user said he “heard FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike has given the order to demolish some parts of the national mosque Abuja & revocation of lands allocated to many mosques.”

“This is the same man who demolished mosques & vilified Muslims when he was Governor of Rivers,” he added. “What does Wike have against Islam?”

Screenshot of one of the viral claims suggesting that the mosque would be demolished.

Another user called Mr Wike a “religious bigot” over the claim.

The handles also recirculated claims that the minister was rumoured to have demolished a mosque as the governor of Rivers State in 2019, which Wike has denied. 

Mr Wike’s appointment as FCT minister has split opinions as he’s the first minister from southern Nigeria to head Abuja. The FCT has a Muslim and Hausa-speaking population, while Mr Wike is a Christian from southern Nigeria.

Since he assumed office, the minister has ordered the demolition of unapproved buildings in the capital. Comments on social media have shown that some Nigerians are displeased with these activities. 

Mr Wike has said his administration would embark on a series of infrastructural projects, some of which could lead to adjusting existing structures.

Also, land allottees, property owners, and beneficiaries of the sale of federal government houses in Abuja are statutorily expected to pay ground rent to the FCT administration at the beginning of each year, as stipulated in their Certificate of Occupancy (C of O). 

In Sept., the FCTA published land titles of individuals, organisations, and agencies owing ground rent. 

It extended the window for payment by three months for religious groups, saying this was because they largely depend on free-wave donations from members.

One such land in question is plots 63 and 99, belonging to the Abuja National Mosque. The former is expected to be substantially affected by a future road development, the Inner Northern Expressway (INEX), according to Richard Nduul, spokesperson of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).

Verification

First, the land in question has not been developed, Mr Nduul said in a statement shared with DUBAWA. For that, the mosque management has requested compensation, and Mr Nduul added that an “alternative or replacement is being awaited.”

Also, at a meeting with the minister earlier this month, the chairman of the mosque management committee, Yahaya Abubakar, the Etsu of Nupe, urged Mr Wike to support the maintenance project of the mosque, which he said had been stalled for a while.

To that, Wike said: “No government will not support the management of the national monument. We have a role to ensure that worship centres are well taken care of.”

Second, for the planned road expansion, no part of the mosque building will be demolished, Daily Trust reported the director of finance and administration, Haliu Shuaib, as saying. 

Mr Shuaib described the claim as the “handiwork of conflict merchants bent on creating religious tension in the nation.”

“The general public should, therefore, ignore the social and print media campaign and completely disregard the fake news in circulation”.

Also, Mr Nduul told DUBAWA that the mosque’s Plot 63 would be affected by a planned expressway project, for which they would be compensated. 

“Plot 63 is substantially affected by future road development, the Inner Northern Expressway (INEX), for which an alternative or replacement is being awaited. This is because of the recent revocation of land title allocations, which have remained undeveloped over time,” Mr Nduul said. 

Conclusion

No part of the Abuja National Mosque building is earmarked for demolition. Plot 63, an unused land previously allocated to the mosque, would be affected by the planned Inner Northern Expressway (INEX) project. 

Both the mosque management and the Abuja authorities are also discussing compensation for the land and government support for the maintenance of the mosque itself.

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