The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), an Islamic rights advocacy group, says the current administration in Borno has, since May 2019, demolished 11 mosques and four churches.
In a statement by Ishaq Akintola, the group’s director, the group said claims that only churches have been demolished in the state are false, adding that the Borno State Geographic Information Service (BOGIS) task force has demolished more mosques than churches.
MURIC said it carried out an investigation, which revealed that the demolition of the places of worship is in line with a government decision dating back to 2010.
“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 exercise began from 29th May, 2019 up till last week,” Akintola said.
“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 was in compliance 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.
“Our 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’.
“All 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. The measures were in compliance with a 2010 white paper which is against illegal places of worship as measures of regulation.”
The development comes days after the demolition of the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa Nigeria (EYN) church in Moduganari area of Maiduguri, Borno state.
During the demolition, an operative of the Borno civilian task force allegedly killed a man who protested the demolition of the EYN church.
The death of the church member had attracted criticism, and shortly after the development, 50 pastors had asked Babagana Zulum, governor of Borno, to rebuild the church.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that Zulum is rebuilding churches destroyed by Boko Haram.
The churches being rebuilt by Zulum with works either completed or at advanced stages are: EYN LCC Ghung, EYN LCC Sangyere, EYN LCC Kirbutu, EYN LCC Tashan Alade, EYN LCC Shidifu, EYN LCC Azare, EYN LCC Kwajaffa, EYN DCC Yawa Wamdeo and EYN LCC Piyami.