Muslims in Ekiti State on Monday took to the streets to protest the alleged forceful taking over of their expanse land located within the premises of Ola-Oluwa Muslims Grammar School on Ilawe road, Ado Ekiti.
They described the action of the State Government as “injustice” claiming that Governor Ayodele Fayose did not call them for a meeting before the seizure of the land they acquired over 50 years ago.
The protesters, who conducted themselves peacefully, dislodged government officials sent by the Ministry of Works to map out the already cleared land, earmarked for the building of a proposed housing units and hotel.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Alhaji Azeez Ibiyemi, described the government’s action as “very embarrassing”, adding that no consultation was made with the Muslim community before embarking on the project.
He said about 65 hectares of land were acquired by Muslims on that portion out of which the secondary and primary schools were built by Muslim community before they were taken over by government.
He argued that the unoccupied expanse of land still remained the legal property of the Muslim community.
“We have the Certificate of Occupancy with us and the survey plan. This land belongs to all the Muslims in Ekiti and what we wanted to build on it is our International mosque, international Youth Centre, hospital and a tertiary institution and that was why we decided not to collect compensation when the schools were taken over by government, so that we can make use of the remaining land.
“The Government had taken over a portion of AUD secondary school for the construction of Ministry of Works and the Pilot school in Ajilosun and no compensations were paid.
“The schools owned by Catholic, Anglican and Baptist churches have large expanse of lands, why must Muslims be targeted as victims of land seizure by government?”, he asked.
But the Commissioner for Information, Mr Lanre Ogunsuyi, said every land in the state belonged to the government under the Land Use Act.
He, however, assured them that government would meet with the Muslims to end the crisis.
“It was wrong for individuals to say a particular land belongs to him. Government has the power to acquire any land, even if there is house on it. But the Muslim community is very important to us. We will dialogue with them and settle this matter amicably,” Ogunsuyi said.
The Leader of National Council of Muslim Youth, Alhaji Jamiu Ola-anabi and Imam Kasaliyu Buhari, appealed to government to see reason and abandon the land in the interest of peace.
Ola-anabi said he expected government to dialogue and seek their consent to avert crisis on the matter, saying, “we will go to court if the gentleman agreement we are seeking with government fails. Under no circumstance shall we allow government to take over this land the way they did in the past.”