Two days ago, a video surfaced online alleging the demolition of a central mosque in Trans-Amadi, Port Harcourt by the Rivers State Government. With the help of many Nigerian news outlets, it rapidly went viral. Drawing attention and condemnation from many, especially Northerners.
It could be recalled that Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State was reported weeks ago, saying that Rivers State is a Christian state. He has also been vocal about his opposition to RUGA, vowing not to give a piece of land for that purpose.
These among other reasons have put him in the anti-north spotlight and escalated the allegation without giving room for his side of the story. However, the Governor issued a statement yesterday, refuting the allegation, saying it is a calculated political smear.
Here is the full statement:
“I have received calls from several prominent Nigerians on the fake news being circulated online. I have come here with reporters and you can see there was no Mosque here. It is most unfortunate that fickle minded persons will claim that a Mosque was demolished at this place, when no Mosque existed here. The story was concocted by mischief makers to score cheap points. Some persons came here to erect illegal structure. There was no approval from the State Government for any structure to be erected here. The persons who started the foundation had already dragged the State Government to court on the disputed land. The Rivers State Government won the case. What they attempted to do was to start the illegal construction to tie the hands of the State Government. The Muslim Community in Rivers State should show me where a Mosque was demolished in the State. Do not allow yourselves to be used by politicians to peddle false stories against the Rivers State Government. The State Government operates within the rule of law. The State Government will not be distracted by the illegal circulation of fake reports. Several Mosques constructed on the approval of the State Government exist across Port Harcourt and other major towns in Rivers State, without the State Government demolishing them. The Government gave them notice not to do anything on the land. But they went ahead with the illegal foundation and relevant agency stopped them.”
A Twitter user, Chris Okpokiri, corroborated the Rivers State’s statement with his tweet:
“Yes, I stay and do business along Trans-Amadi, the acclaimed location of the Mosque. There has never been a mosque building there, it is just a fenced area where people go to pray. If they say the fence was pushed down that’s different, but saying a mosque was demolished is a lie.”