A seven years struggle over control of the popular Shiekh Ja’afar Mahmoud Adam Memorial Mosque and Islamic Centre has been rekindled as accusations and counter accusations surfaced from both factions, claiming to be in better position to hold sway.
Drawing the first blood, a group, who told newsmen that they are representatives of the Ungwan Dosa Community, Kaduna where the structure is located, alleged that they have been schemed out of control of the facility they laboured to establish.
Speaking at press briefing in Kaduna on Sunday, the group under the aegis, Concerned Citizens of Ungwan Dosa, said that in spite of instructions from the Sultan of Sokoto that the Emir of Zazzau who is the present custodian of the mosque hand it back to them, it has remained under the control of those who were not its founders.
Yusuf Umar who spoke on behalf of the group explained that they would keep on adopting all legal and diplomatic options available in resolving the impasse.
He explained that besides the Sultan, they have also written letters to the National Human Rights Commission and the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai to intervene.
Ibrahim said that the press conference was aimed at briefing the world on happenings at the Sheikh Ja’afar centre.
“It was a brain child of Emir of Patigi who donated 100×100 land, other donations followed,” he said.
He said that the committee sourced funds from individuals who donated before the construction took place, Zamfara and Kaduna governments named as highest donors.
The spokesman of the group said that trouble started when someone he initially failed to mention while reading the text of the statement, but later revealed to be Kaduna based multi billionaire and philanthropist, Alhaji Mahdi Shehu, popularly known as ‘Dialogue’
got involved in affairs of the centre.
“During the period, someone divided members of community and fracas came up. Government of Kaduna State during the regime of late Governor Patrick Yakowa came up and set aside the committee and appointed others to oversee, but people of the area not satisfied with the tenure and he was changed to someone else and it was realised that financial misappropriation took place investigation showed over six million Naira missing from coffers.
“An audit firm was employed and discovered over eight million Naira was misappropriated. Because some felt those responsible for the misappropriation should be punished, fracas broke out. The former chairman left for his home state and a new chairman emerged,” he explained.
He said that several efforts to resolve the issue amicably were made, including sending their lawyer to mediate but they told him they have heard from us.
“We are appealing to his Excellency to look into this issue because we expect him to intervene because we believe he will do justice to this,” he said.
But while reacting on Thursday in Kaduna when newsmen sought to get views of the present committee in charge of the mosque and centre, its Secretary, Alhaji Mahmood Touhid said that those agitating to take over management of the facility are doing so out of greed, not in genuine interest.
He said that the history of the crisis started in 2010, when allegations came that a teacher at the Islamic Centre, was said to have made attempts at dating a married woman.
“The teacher made moves to date the woman, whose husband was a military man and it took our quick intervention to prevent a major crisis that would have grounded the school.
“Alhaji Mahdi Shehu, whose office was close by first intervened and we all had to follow the officer to his house where we begged him. He told us that but for our intervention, he would have stormed the Friday mosque to announce what happened,” he said.
He explained further that when a meeting of the management committee was summoned, Alhaji Mahdi Shehu was the first to speak, vowing that the allegations of wooing married women must be investigated thoroughly, a speech which was supported by others, prompting the all members of the board of trustees to tender their resignation.
“I then took over as acting Chairman of the board, before the ugly incidents that led to the state government taking over the centre and mosque took place,” he said.
He said that a group, in desperation of their quest for control of the mosque, bundled the Chief Imam from the pulpit and locked him in the office, a development that spiked his blood pressure, a condition he never came out of as he died the following day in a hospital he was rushed to.
The secretary said that another issue that made the Kaduna State Security Council recommend taking over of the facility was a preaching by an Imam at the mosque that Muslims should go out and slaughter Christians, because of a crisis in some other part of the state.
On the allegations that 8 million Naira was misappropriated, he admitted by showing evidences that the external auditor mandated by the committee to investigate finances of the centre, discovered that the said amount was actually being owed by students of the school over a period of three years.
“A parent who was well to do, having children in the school was one of the defaulters, who had not paid any fees for three years,” he added.
Touhid said that the letter those who claimed to be founders of the mosque and centre wrote to Governor el-Rufai was referred to the Bureau of Islamic Affairs, who invited both parties and when they wanted to bring in arguments of how funds were generated to start the mosque and school, were asked if it was only those they mentioned as donors contributed to the project.
“At another meeting at the Emir of Zazzau’s residence, which also had the Sultan in attendance, Sultan said, ” You again, don’t you forget matters like this, are people not worshipping in that mosque” they were ashamed but here again, they come up with same issues,” he said.