By Rotimi Ojomoyela
Ado-Ekiti—There was palpable tension in Ado Ekiti, capital of Ekiti State, yesterday, as Muslim faithful protested proposed demolition of mosques built within the premises of petrol stations across the state.
The government’s action is starting with a petrol station built by one Alhaji Suleman Akinbami, the Secretary of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, at Adebayo area of Ado Ekiti.
The Muslims under the aegis of National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations, NACOMYO, described the government action as an attempt to oppress them. The mosque, according to them , was built by a petrol dealer, within the premises of his petrol station in Adebayo and donated to Muslim community.
However, the Commissioner for Lands, Mr Taiye Otitoju, dismissed the insinuation that the demolition was targeted at any person or religious organisation, saying; “It was done to save lives. How can anybody get approval to build a petrol station and later build a religious centre inside it. This is not about mosques, churches too will be pulled down if found at such locations.
“Government took the decision because of the fire outbreak at a petrol filling station in Ado-Ekiti and we want to ensure that few people converge at or around petrol stations.
“We have to notify the people affected and we have done that. It is also noteworthy that these people applied for the construction of petrol filling stations and building a place of worship there may not be necessary.”
It was gathered that the Commissioner for Lands, had visited the mosque at about 5pm on Monday and marked it for demolition, on the premise that worshippers can contract cancer from the radioactive emissions from the petrol station.
The protesting Muslim youths marched from the Central mosque at Oja Oba to Odo Ado Area to brief the Chief Imam of Ekiti State, Alhaji Jamiu Kewulere before taking a detour and moved to the palace of Ewi, Oba Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe and Adebayo area, where the mosque was located.
Addressing the protesters, the Grand Imam assured that he would continue to liaise with government for peaceful resolution of the issue.