LAGOS - Thanks to Muslim activism, a court has ordered a university in Nigeria's oil-rich city of Port Harcourt to allow the building of a mosque for Muslim students to fulfil their religious duties.
If you need another reason that civic activism and pursuit of right through legal means work, this is a good one, Disu Kamor, head of the Muslim Public Affairs Center in Lagos, told OnIslam.net.
MPAC supported and campaigned for the Muslim students of the RSUST when they suffered the tyranny of the school authority, and we are pleased that God has rewarded them with victory.
A court has ordered the Rivers State University of Science of Technology to reinstate a mosque demolished by the institution last year.
Judge Lambo Akanbi described the demolition of the mosque erected by Muslim students as utterly illegal and unlawful.
He ordered the university to grant a land for the students to erect their mosque and a perpetual injunction against the authorities from harassing, intimidating or disturbing the peaceful atmosphere of the Muslim students to worship.
He also directed that all parties should find an out-of-court settlement to whatever issues that needed to be addressed without prejudice to the right of the students to freely worship.
Barrister Abdulmajeed Oloriegbe hailed the court ruling as watershed.
He lamented that the university decision to demolish the mosque was reprehensible and amounted to sheer bigotry, unlawful intimidation and discrimination.
Umaru Wazuru, leader of Muslim students at the school, said they are encouraged by the ruling to always seek peaceful resolution of whatever grievances one may have with the authorities anywhere and anytime.
The mosque demolition had sparked a storm of condemnations from Muslim leaders, amid warnings that the destruction deepens Muslim-Christian divide in the West African country.
The same school houses at least six churches, some of them constructed after the failed bid of Muslim students to secure land to build their own mosque.
The counsel to the students has written to the school authorities demanding immediate implementation of the court ruling.
We have noticed with very much concern the continued disobedience of your person and office to the clear mandatory and validly given orders of the court ...in the above matter, and which disrespect obviously persists even as we have patiently waited and observed the cynical disposition of the school authority to the said judgment, Oloriegbe said in the letter obtained by OnIslam.net.
It is in order to give the benefit of the doubt that we hereby forward to your good self the full text of the said judgment while trusting that this will give a full appreciation of the court's position on the matter so that the limits of your choice in the matter shall be fully appreciated and better counsel possibly given to you by more discerning authorities and professional of legal understandings....
The lawyer also urged the institution to respect the law or be made to face the consequences of flouting court orders on the matter.
We therefore consider it necessary to forward this complaint along with the court judgment for your intervention, in view of the sensitive nature of the issues involved and the rather unpleasant political and socio-cultural conflict that a continued face off may engender if not properly handled, the lawyer said in another correspondence to the school head.
We do sincerely believe that your kind intervention will do a whole lot of good in arresting bad publicity that is becoming inevitable and we urge you to intervene and save the situation from degenerating into lawlessness.
Efforts to reach both the commissioner and the vice chancellor proved abortive as their telephone lines were unreachable.
Nigeria, one of the world's most religiously committed nations, is divided between a Muslim north and a Christian south.
Muslims and Christians, who constitute 55 and 40 percent of Nigeria's 140 million population respectively, have lived in peace for the most part.But ethnic and religious tensions have bubbled for years, fuelled by decades of resentment between indigenous groups, mostly Christian or animist, who are vying for control of fertile farmlands with migrants and settlers from the Hausa-speaking Muslim north.