Following the cry by an Islamic group, the Zumratul Jamiu Mumin Society of Nigeria (ZJM), ‘over plans by the Federal Government (FG) to forcefully eject thousands of its members from their settlement at the Pakuro-Lotto axis of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway,’ the Muslim Rights Concern has called on the President Muhammadu Buhari led government to perish such thoughts.
MURIC in a statement by its director and founder, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Thursday, described the move to evict the Muslims as unjust, illegal, unlawful, illegitimate and unconstitutional.
The statement reads:
“We have it on good authority that the Federal Government (FG) plans to forcefully eject thousands of members of the Zumratul Jamiu Mumin Society of Nigeria (ZJM) from their Islamic City at the Pakuro-Lotto axis of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. The planned evacuation is ostensibly for the purpose of an interchange and flyover which will be handled by Julius Berger.
“We strongly condemn the attempt to evict the only Muslim settlement on Lagos Ibadan Expressway when there are several Christian encampments along the same expressway. The Islamic City is being deliberately targeted in order to turn the Expressway into a Christian monopoly. It runs counter to the laws of natural justice. It is unjust, illegal, unlawful, illegitimate and unconstitutional.
“By the way, why is the planned construction designed to eliminate the Islamic City when two Christian groups also exist in the same place? The Islamic City is situated between the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and Deeper Life Bible Church. Why didn’t the plan affect either of them? Why pick on the Islamic City alone?
“We smell a rat. Already, members of the Islamic organization have fingered the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, for waging a proxy war against the Islamic City on behalf of the Redeemed Church where he is also a pastor. MURIC considers this as a mere allegation which is yet to be substantiated. But the VP Osinbajo has a duty to clear his name. His office has all the chance in the world to prove his innocence or involvement as the case may be. Is it true that VP Osinbajo is using federal might to influence the eviction of Muslims from their Islamic City?
“It is rumoured that the Redeemed Camp is not comfortable being so close to thousands of Muslims residing in the Islamic City. It is also a fact that the Redeemed Camp turned back hijab-wearing female Muslim candidates who came to check their examination centers inside the camp not too long ago. This is an act of religious intolerance. It appears that the mere sight of Muslims is somehow worrisome to leaders of the Redeemed group and the Islamic City has to simply ‘disappear’ because of this.
“But the VP cannot afford to provoke Muslims in the South West at a time he is being projected as a likely presidential candidate come 2023. Or is this part of what Yoruba Muslims should expect in an Osinbajo presidency? Can Osinbajo win in Yorubaland as a presidential candidate without Yoruba Muslim votes? Concerned Muslims in Yorubaland are waiting to hear the VP’s side of the eviction story.
“By the way, why is the planned interchange designed to affect the Islamic City alone in a location hosting three religious groups? Why is the construction not affecting all the three? Are the engineers free from external pressure? Was the original design tampered with to favour the Redeemed Camp and Deeper Life?
“We call for an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the preparation of the design, the extent of probable external influence and the level of adherence to professional ethics in this project.
“MURIC will not stand akimbo while Muslims are exposed to humiliation and untold suffering. Evicting thousands of Muslims from the Islamic City will herald a huge humanitarian crisis. This should be avoided at all cost.
“We advise FG to tread with caution regarding the planned interchange and overhead bridge. Constructions must carry some human face. Julius Berger engineers need to take a second look at the design.
“Members of the Islamic organization have lived on the six (6) acres of land under their leader, Shaykh Abdul Raheem Bello, for 30 years. It is quite odd for Berger to suddenly come and start demolishing their homes, schools, mosques and cemeteries.
“We suggest dialogue as a way out. The Ministry of Works can invite Julius Berger engineers, representatives of the Islamic City and notable Muslim engineers for dialogue. The Zumratul Jamiu Mumin Society of Nigeria (ZJM) is not known for violence or controversy. It is a quiet and peace-loving organization with members spread all over Yorubaland.
“An engineering redesign of the interchange is still possible. The redesign may extend to the land belonging to the Islamic City, the Redeemed Camp and/or Deeper Life in order to remove the impression that Islamic City alone was targeted.
“This will ensure that justice is not only done but seen as having been done. It will also be a win-win situation for FG in the acquisition of Roads Right of Way for the proposed interchange or Grade Separation of Vehicular Traffic Units (which necessarily includes at least a flyover).”