The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has denied reports that a mosque was demolished in the state capital, Port Harcourt.
He made this known in a statement on Monday following reports that the state government spearheaded the demolition of the religious building.
The report, in the last 24 hours, triggered controversy and criticisms from Nigerians on social media.
The governor, however, described the reports as “false and unfortunate”. He said the false report was planted by mischief makers to create disaffection.
According to the statement by his spokesperson, Simeon Nwakaudu, Mr Wike told journalists that there was no mosque on the ground, hence nothing was demolished.
“I 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,” Mr Wike was quoted as saying.
“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.”
The governor said some persons started erecting “illegal” foundation at the disputed land, when they had no approval to embark on any construction work.
“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,” he said.
Mr Wike asked the Muslim community in the state to show him where a mosque was demolished. He also urged Muslims not to allow themselves to be used by politicians to peddle false stories.
He added that the state government operates within the rule of law and will not be distracted by the illegal circulation of fake reports.
Earlier, ex-Kaduna senator, Shehu Sani, told PREMIUM TIMES, that he contacted the state governor who denied the reports. He said the governor confirmed that there was demolition in the area but none of the structures was a mosque.
Mr Sani said the incident was being politicised by mischievous politicians with intentions to ruin the name and work of the governor.
“The religious sensitivities and sensibilities of the people have always been exploited by politicians to achieve their goals. Our constitutions guarantees every citizen the rights to hold religious beliefs and to worship and that should always be respected and protected.
“Muslims and Christians in Rivers state have always lived in peace for decades and that must not be destroyed by political forces from outside the state. I advised the Governor to invite and sit with the Muslim community in the state, provide good alternative land for them and to avert intrusion and meddling by those who want to cash in on it.
“Those trying to use this to whip up religious sentiments should be ignored. We have a full menu of problems in our country and this need not add to it,” he said.
While condemning the reports circulated earlier, Mr Sani urged Muslims in the area not to spread rumours such rumours and maintain peace. He said both Christians and Muslims have lived peacefully for years in the state and should continue to do so.
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