September 4, 2019

Delta:Tension in Kiagbodo as irate villagers demolish mosque

Delta:Tension in Kiagbodo as irate villagers demolish mosque

…mosque destroyed by the explosion

Emma Amaize

 SUSPECTED youths have partly demolished a mosque under construction at Kiagbodo, a predominantly Christian community and country home of former Minister of Information and National Leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark, in Burutu Local Government Area, Delta State.

Vanguard learned that the Chairman of Burutu Local Government Area, Mr. Godknows Angele mobilized the Area Commander of Police in the area, Divisional Police Officer, DPO, and other top security agents in Burutu , Sunday, to restore peace in the community.



The next day, Monday, a security source confided in Vanguard that the state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, invited the Burutu chair to Asaba, the state capital, for first-hand information on the development.

Vanguard learned that some indigenes of the community pulled down part of the structure, last Sunday, after several warnings to the owner of the building, Mallam Abubakar Korokeme, building the mosque in his private compound in Kiagbodo.

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Mallam Korokeme, who was furious about the destruction, alleged that youths of the community carried out the act on the orders of a prominent indigene of the community, who had earlier threatened him over the building.  

He said some people in his house saw the youths that came to destroy the mosque and they ran away when they raised alarm and pointed the torch at them.

Vanguard, however, learned that before the partial demolition, women, and youths of the community had carried out a series of protest, warning that they do would not accept mosque in the community.

The local government chair, Angele, had also intervened and suspended the project in the interim, while he referred the warring parties to Senator Clark, who is the leader and the oldest man in the community to settle the matter amicably. 

Barrister Clark, a Muslim and younger brother of Senator Clark had also written letter chairman of Kiagbodo community, Mr. J. O. Layefa, on August 27, urging him to intervene and avert the infringement on the rights of Mallam Korokeme.

He alleged that some people in the community, who were anti-Islam were inciting others against Muslims. The lawyer pointed fingers at some of those causing problem, pleading with the chairman to chair to tackle it before it got out of hand since Korokeme and other Muslims had rights to practice their religion in Kiagbodo, more especially as he was building the mosque in his private house.

Chairman of Kiagbodo community, Mr. Layefa told our reporter, “Kiagbodo is calm, the people do not want a mosque in the community, we are standing by that. When we went to the council chairman in a meeting that was attended by security agents, they told Abubakar not to go ahead with the mosque but he should go ahead with his building.”

 Contacted, Chair of Burutu local government area, Mr. Godknows Angele, confirmed that he convened a meeting, saying: “Barrister Isa Clark came with Abubakar, the person building the mosque, while the Regent of the community, the community chairman, all of them came to my office. We met with the executive and I asked them what is happening. The community part of the story is that there is a community before Kiagbodo, which is Olomu, where herdsmen raped a woman to death and another community after Kiagbodo, Egodo chased away herdsmen and that those places, they are no mosques.”

“They said that bringing mosque to Kiagbodo will be sheltered them and they will use it as their base. They told me that the government would have to kill them first before they will allow a mosque in their community.

“That is the position of the Regent and the community, I now asked Barrister Isa Clark and Abubakar, they cited the law to the freedom of level of religion, which I agree with and in my judgment, I told them that if you go to Maiduguri today, you have a lot of churches. As a lawyer, council chairman, and chief security officer of the council, I will not be part of any group not allowing him to build a mosque because there is freedom of worship.

“But in the Kiagbodo situation, I told Barrister Clark and Abubakar that your lives now are at risk. In your speech, you said that you people held a meeting, they pursued you form the community, meaning that you do not have grounds in the community, 99.1 percent in the community do not want it, so what do we do.

“What I told them is that we have a general father looking after everybody there, he is also an Ijaw national leader and the oldest man in the community, that I will mobilize everybody, including security agents to go and meet Clark to settle the matter amicably.

“I told Abubakar that if he goes ahead to continue the mosque, they may kill him, so he should save his life first, we agreed at that level for Clark to settle me. But later, Barrister Clark called me to say that these people went to the mosque to destroy it.

“I called the other party and they said that despite my judgment that they should wait for Clark, this man went and continued to build and they nearly even killed him. Also, I had to mobilize the Area Commander of Police, Divisional Police Officer to protect him in Kiagbodo. So, there is peace in Kiagbodo now,” he said.

Elder statesman, Senator Clark, who is the leader and the oldest man in the community, told Vanguard, “Recently, I got a telephone call from the chairman of my community that there is a problem in my community. He told me that women and youths in the community were all demonstrating. He said that one boy who calls himself, Abubakar and Isa Clark, my younger brother, were building a mosque in Kiagbodo.”

“He said that the women are demonstrating that they were herdsmen in the bush destroying their crops and once such a mosque is built in the community, other herdsmen will come in and use the community as a base to carry out nefarious activities.

“The chairman briefed me that they invited officials who came from Burutu, the local government headquarters to hold a meeting with community people and they were later invited to hold a meeting with the local government chairman and councilors. The Regent of the community told him that his women and men were demonstrating in his community that they do not want a mosque that one Abubakar is building in the town.

“The chairman asked Isa Clark and Abubakar, who reside in Ughelli and Warri who they were building a mosque for since they do not live in Kiagbodo and they were no Muslims in Kiagbodo and I was told he advised them to take the matter to me whenever I come to Kiagbodo.

“Recently, I learned that in one night, some of the youths damaged part of the mosque, so I asked the young man building the mosque that I will not be in a community where there will be trouble all the time, I have a University there and anything can happen. So I called the young man, your name is not Abubakar, your name is a different name, how did you come to become a Muslim, you are a driver, he said yes.

“I asked him how much he earns as a driver to have money to build a mosque; he is a young man and my cousin for that matter. He said he earns 100,000 and married with up to nine children. I asked him how he manages to get money to build a house and at the same time, for I learned that some Muslims gave him the money he is using, he could not answer.

 “I told him that he is looking for trouble in the community and a young man called me thereafter, saying that he is the head of Muslims in Ughelli area. Because the chair of the community told me they announced that there was an announcement that all members of the community should gather to be addressed by the Miyetti Allah, I asked him what for, is that the way to convert my people or do you not know that I am opposed to RUGA.

“Do you not know that I am the leader of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, how can you be building a mosque in my village when it is not a Muslim town, is that person not fishing for trouble. I asked him if he knew that the mother of one of my sons is a Muslim, married and lives with me.

“I asked him why they want to embarrass me by telling that he is Muslim and that I even have a son, who is a Muslim but Kiagbodo is not a Muslim town,” he said.

Senator Clark explained, however, that he is not against any religion, adding, “Somebody is inciting Abubakar, if you want to do something and the community said it does not want it, you have to live it. The two persons that are causing this trouble do not live in Kiagbodo and we do not have Muslims in Kiagbodo.”

Alhaji Abubakar, however, told Vanguard that it was within his rights to build a mosque in his private residence in Kiagbodo and should not be disturbed.