Buhari intervenes as Lagos community, security agencies bicker over Obalende prayer ground

  • Wishes Muslims happy Ramadan

President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to resolve the tussle over the ownership of Obalende Muslim Prayer Ground between the Lagos State Jama’atul Muslimeen (Muslim Community) and security agencies.

Uba Group

To this end, he has set up a committee under the leadership of the Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari to advise him on the processes and all that needs to be done to do justice to all parties involved.

Speaking at the State House at a meeting with members of the Jama’atul Muslimeen on Wednesday, President Buhari said justice and fairness are principles very dear to him and he will hold onto them as long as he lives.

“I have listened to the enlightening historical details you have read. You will get justice as far as this is concerned. 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 said.

In their presentation, the group said they had come to the President as a last resort, having explored several avenues to get justice to no avail. In their account as rendered by the leader of the delegation, Sikiru Alabi-Macfoy, Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the organization, the Lagos State Muslim Community informed the President that their ownership of the land dates 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.

This, they explained, was much earlier than the arrival in the area of their neighbours, the Dodan Barracks, which came after the collapse of the First Republic.

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

They reported 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 ownership of it, apparently based on their erroneous understanding that the Prayer Ground belongs to Dodan Barracks.”

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

Meanwhile, President Buhari has sent greetings and best wishes to Muslims as they commence 30 days of Ramadan fasting, urging that they use the season “to project the best and finest virtues of Islam by personal conduct, and not precept.”

In a goodwill message to mark the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, President Buhari said “let us use this opportunity to put the best teachings of Islam into practice, such as kindness and the love of humanity.”

According to the President, “this is an occasion for deep reflection and greater fear of Allah and avoidance of all evils that harm humanity.”

He said that “Ramadan is characterised by abstention from food and drinks from dawn to dusk, which brings both the rich and poor to share the experience of hunger together, thereby strengthening the bonds between haves and have-nots.”

President Buhari explained that “as we begin these 30 days of fasting season, let us not forget that Ramadan is not only about abstention from eating and drinking, but it is a reminder to refrain from all kinds of evil and transgressions that harm humanity.”

“I am particularly aware of the activities of traders who artificially increase the prices of their goods, including food at the beginning of every month of Ramadan. This kind of exploitation is against the spirit of Ramadan and the spirit of Islam,” the President said.

President Buhari added that, “while we are observing this important occasion in the spiritual life of Muslims, let us share food and drinks with the less fortunate, because by sharing our blessings with others, Allah will multiply our rewards for good deeds.”

In another development, the Ansar-ud-deen Society of Nigeria, on Wednesday, said it had concluded arrangements to distribute food items to 5,000 people and give free Ramadan breakfast to 5,500 Muslims daily for 30 days.

Chairman of Abuja branch of the society, Mohammad Olayiwola, stated this at a news conference, with the theme: “Ramadan, Islam and Good Governance: the Role of Muslims”, held at the Ansar-ud-deen mosque, Maitama, Abuja.


Olayiwola described Ramadan as a month of re-awakening of all Muslims to their roles and responsibilities as well as Islam’s perspective on good governance.

According to him, the month also reminds Muslims of the equality of citizens before Allah.

“Since we all know that Allah blesses one more than the other, it behooves us to share our prosperity with the less privileged in the society in order to reduce the social menace in the country.

“Our food bank will deal with the collection of raw food items donated by the well-to-do amongst us and distribute to 5,000 less-privileged to have good food in their respective houses daily.

“Also, we are going to organise Ramadan breakfast for 5,500 Muslims daily in our mosque in Maitama. We solicit public support in this direction to complement our own earmarked resources,” he said.

The chairman further stated that the society would organise its 28th Annual Ramadan lecture to be delivered by a renowned Islamic scholar and Northern States Council Missioner of Ansar-ud-deen, Sheikh Muhideen Ajani-Bello.

According to him, Ajani-Bello will, after the lecture, lead national prayer to seek divine guidance for good governance, peace and tranquility in the democratic transition in the country.

“Similarly, we are going to organise daily Tafsir of Qur’an for the 30 days of the month of Ramadan, starting from March 30 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.,” he said.