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Edo Muslims denied use of stadium for programme

An Islamic programme by the Muslim community in Edo state to hold on Saturday was scuttled by security operatives who barricaded all entries to the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium venue of the event.

The programme was organised by Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) in conjunction with the Edo Muslims For Equity and Good Governance (EMEGG), at which the state governor, Adams Oshiomhole, was slated to be guest of honour.

The organisers said the programme was to discuss the alleged continued marginalization and total neglect of Muslims in the state in the hands of those in authority.

A visit to the stadium showed that a combined team of military and anti-riot police operatives were stationed at all entry points to the stadium, with their vehicles positioned at strategic locations within and outside the stadium.

Upon further enquiries, it was gathered that the state governor, Adams Oshiomhole, allegedly ordered the deployment of security agencies to the stadium, perhaps in anticipation of a possible breakdown of law and order.

Reacting to the development, Faruq Omogbai, Secretary General Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Edo State and Sirajudeen Muhammad, Coordinator, Edo Muslims of Equity and Good Governance respectively, said Muslims will resist any attempt by any person, no matter how highly placed, to restrict or abridge their fundamental liberties.

The two Islamic cleric, in a press statement issued in Benin and made available to journalists, said the Bodies “express utter resentment and disapproval to the last minute cancellation by the State Governor, Comrade Adams Eric Oshiomhole, of the proposed peaceful sensitization programme by Muslims in the state scheduled for Saturday, 9th January, 2016 at Sam Ogbemudia Stadium.

“The last minute cancellation is unacceptable to the Ummah as we view it as an affront and insult to the integrity of the entire Muslims in Edo State, because we know that the Comrade Governor cannot treat any programme or activity by Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in the manner he has treated the Muslims.

“We wish to remind the Governor of Edo State that we are in a democracy in which the right of every Nigerian to freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We shall resist any attempt by any person, no matter how highly placed, to circumscribe or abridge our fundamental liberties.”

They urged all Muslims to remain calm and peaceful “in the face of this provocation, whilst appropriate machinery to respond to this latest onslaught is being worked out with relevant stakeholders in the Ummah.”

It was learned that the programme however took place at Aviele community, a suburb of Auchi, the administrative headquarters of Etsako West local government area.

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