A Muslim rights advocacy group, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has called on the Nigerian Army to vacate the Muslim praying ground at Obalende, Lagos, which has been encroached upon by the Nigerian Army.
The group claimed that the land, which is littered with military hardware, is the same land on which thousands of Lagos Muslims observe their festival prayers.
This was made known in a statement on Wednesday, by the director of MURIC, Prof Ishaq Akintola, urging the state governor to issue a certificate of occupancy to the Lagos muslim community without delay.
The group said that the land was originally given to the Lagos Muslim Community by the fourth colonial governor general of Nigeria, Sir Donald Cameroon (1931 – 1935), via an Indenture on 9th August, 1931 “to HOLD the same unto, and to the use of the Grantees forever, free from all encumbrances.”
The statement reads in part: “A 3.11 acre piece of land belonging to the Lagos Muslim Community is now a subject of controversy. The land which is situated at Obalende is now littered with military hardware. This encroachment has constituted an impediment because it is the same land on which thousands of Lagos Muslims observe their festival prayers.
“MURIC regards this as an attempt to subtly commandeer the piece of land. It is open strangulation of Allah-given fundamental human right, a threat to freedom of religion as stipulated in Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and an invitation to anarchy.
“The land was originally given to the Lagos Muslim Community by the fourth colonial governor general of Nigeria, Sir Donald Cameroon (1931 – 1935), via an Indenture on 9th August, 1931 ‘to HOLD the same unto, and to the use of the Grantees forever, free from all encumbrances’.
“As a colonial heritage given to Lagos Muslims, it is a dis-service to the historical background of the city of Lagos and an attempt to distort the records for any institution to wrench the property from its original owners. The press statement issued by the Muslim Community of Lagos State on 29th March 2022 has revealed the long struggle to retain ownership of the land.
“It was General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) as military head of state who first showed interest in the land when he requested for a little portion of it to widen a section of Ribadu Road in front of his office and it was graciously granted by the Muslims. This was in the early 1970s. Unfortunately this opened a floodgate of encroachments by the army who littered the grounds with military hardware and construction equipment.
“Several efforts have since been made by the Muslim Community of Lagos to get justice from the authorities but all to no avail.
“It is our strong belief that Obalende Praying Ground is part of Ikoyi Land Law of Lagos State and since LASG became the owner of all lands situated within the state by virtue of the transfer of Crown Land Act Chapter 45, 1958 on the creation of Lagos State on 27th May, 1967, LASG has the power to exercise authority over the landed property.
“People who endeavor to engage government but who meet a brick wall on each attempt are prone to frustration. Youth among such people are most likely to become uncontrollable. Most importantly, a situation in which thousands of Muslims assemble for their festival prayer but cannot find a suitable place to perform it is most volatile and unpredictable. It is worse when they are aware that the place they had been using before has been commandeered.
“We therefore appeal to LASG to do everything within its power to ensure that Lagos Muslims are not denied the use of Obalende Prayer Ground at any point in time especially as the Salah day of the ongoing Ramadan season of 2022 is fast approaching.”