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Buhari wades into Obalande prayer ground tussle

President Muhammadu Buhari meets with members of the Jama’atul Muslimeen in Abuja.

President Muhammadu Buhari says he will resolve the tussle over the ownership of Obalende Muslim Prayer Ground between the Lagos State Jama’atul Muslimeen, Muslim Community and security agencies.

To this end, the President has set up a committee to be chaired by his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, to advise him on the processes and all that needs to be done to “do justice to all parties involved”.

At a meeting in Abuja with members of the Jama’atul Muslimeen, President Buhari said justice and fairness were principles very dear to him, promising to uphold them perpetually.

“I have listened to the enlightening historical details you have read. You will get justice as far as this is concerned,” he assured them.

“I commend you for adopting a peaceful approach to seeking justice, without heating up the polity. The Chief of Staff will get back to you in two weeks,” he promised.

In their presentation, the group said they had come to the President as a last resort, having explored several avenues to get justice without results.

President Muhammadu Buhari with members of the Jama’atul Muslimeen in Abuja.

The leader of the delegation, Alhaji Sikiru Alabi-Macfoy, informed the President that the ownership of the land dated back to 1931 when the Nigerian Government made an Absolute Grant of 3.11 acres of the land in question to serve as Muslim Prayer Ground at the new Hausa Settlement, Ikoyi Plains, Lagos, now known as Obalende.

He claimed that it was much earlier than the arrival in the area of their neighbours, the Dodan Barracks, that came after the collapse of the First Republic.

The Lagos Muslim Community also presented documents to show approval of the ownership of the land, signed by the late Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Major-General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, under General Obasanjo’s Military Administration, affirming their ownership of the land.

They alleged that in the last few years, officials of the Department of State Services (DSS) at Dodan Barracks have been threatening to deny the Muslims access into the prayer ground because the Muslim Community was claiming its ownership, apparently based on their erroneous understanding that the Prayer Ground belonged to Dodan Barracks.

Other members of the committee set up by the President are: the Ministers of Defence, Works and Housing; the Chief of Army Staff, the Director-General, Department of State Services, as well as others recognised as stakeholders in the matter.

Reporting by Abdullah Bello; Editing by Abdullahi Lamino, Julian Osamoto and Tony Okerafor