Kebbi: Governor Idris’ many battles with PDP – The Sun Nigeria (2024)

From Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi

In Kebbi State, the removal of Malam Rufai Ibrahim, the former Chief Imam of Wala Jumuaat Mosque, Birnin Kebbi metropolis, during the just concluded Ramandan period, have not faded off. Both the state government and the opposition party are on collusion course over the resignation of an Islamic Cleric.

While the Birnin Kebbi Local Government authority had served the Islamic Cleric a query and suspension, the later hurriedly resigned from the position.

However, his travail, it was gathered, started from his nature of jumuah sermons which always centered on criticizing the policies of the government. This was perceived by many politicians as an affront which was not expected from the Islamic Cleric whose sermon ought to be neutral and general and not narrowed to the government which offered him an opportunity to be the Imam of Jumuah Mosque.

The Birnin Kebbi LGA, which the affected Mosque fall under its territory and under its regulatory authorities, without wasting time, issued out a query and suspension letter to the affected cleric. In the letter dated March 29, 2024, signed by Muh’D Dahiru Nayaya Ambursa, Sole Administrator, he stated that the Council has stopped him from being the Imam of Wala Jumu’at Mosque.

The Council said: “he has been stopped from parading himself from being the imam of Wala Mosque and urged to handover the leadership of the Mosque to mallam Mammam Nata’Ala who is his second in command”.

But the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), did not taken the issue with a lightly. They perceived the removal of the cleric as an act of restriction of the freedom of expression and restriction of association.

In the social media platforms being circulated in the state, the leaders of the main opposition party, criticized the government for not allowing the cleric to freely express himself and discharge his duty as the Chief Imam.

While reacting to the allegation, Kebbi State Government which immediately distanced itself from the cleric’s resignation, said it had no hand, whatsoever, in the resignation of the Chief Imam of Wala Jumaat Mosque in Birnin Kebbi metropolis, Malam Rufai Ibrahim.

The Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Arch. Muhammad Sani Aliyu who made the clarification when he addressed newsmen in Birnin Kebbi, said the viral report of the social media, alluding the involvement of the state government in the Imam’s resignation was not true.

According to him, “our attention has been drawn to a viral report on the social media alluding to the resignation of one of the Chief Imams in Birnin Kebbi, the Chief Inam of Wala Jumaat Mosque, Malam Rufai Ibrahim. We have heard with surprise that he has relinquished his appointment as the Imam of the Mosque.

“Whatever those reasons of his might be, the state government has no hand in his actions.”

The Commissioner argued that, “what is clear to the state government is that the state Governor, Dr Nasir Idris, Kauran Gwandu, has in his bid to assist the less privileged members of the society, extended some Ramadan gestures to a cross section of people of the state. These gestures were aimed at alleviating the suffering of the people of the state, more especially during the ongoing Ramadan fast”.

Aliyu added that same support was extended to the various Imams across the state as leaders in their respective communities.

He said: “unfortunately, as the time the support got to the Mosque, the Imam was not there.The support was handed over to his assistant. We were also reliably informed that the support was handed over to him. Unfortunately, we were also reliably informed that he did not want others to know what exactly transpired.

“The same support was extended to all the Mosques across the state to reduce the hardship of the people of the state. Later, we heard that for some grudges, he has reported the matter to the DSS and those who were engaged in the distribution were invited for questioning.

“That was why the Ministry was also invited to shed some light. The gesture was extended through the Ministry for Local Governments and staffers were used. He should have got back to the Commissioner, the Emirate, our Ministry or even to the governor for any inquiries,” he added.

Aliyu also said that they have learnt that he had resorted to the use of the social media to dish out the report of his resignation. The commissioner said that the Local Government under whose purview the position falls had since accepted his resignation.

“In the same vein, it has directed his deputy to take over the position pending the appointment of a new substantive Imam. The issue of leadership is a matter of personal interest and nobody should be forced into accepting it.

We are also calling on the Gwandu Emirate Council to initiate urgent processes to appoint his successor,’ he said.

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While reacting to the opposition’s claims on the social medial platforms, the Speaker, Kebbi State House of Assembly, Alhaji Mohammed Usman Zuru under the platform of Concerned Citizens of Kebbi State, condemned the viral reports on the social media by the main opposition party, linking the state governor to the removal of the Imam.

Zuru threatened to expose all the past activities of the leadership of the PDP if the main opposition party did not stop criticizing the administration of the state governor, Dr. Nasir Idris. The Speaker, who condemned the opposition party for allegedly using the social media platforms to blackmail the All Progressives Congress(APC) government, noted that there was limitation to freedom of expression when their claims are turning to blackmails and defamation.

According to him, “my attention has been drawn to the write up made by the PDP leadership of Kebbi State against the Kebbi State governor, Dr. Nasir Idris Kauran Gwandu on Facebook and other Media platforms on the 13th April 2024 with the caption, “PDP Condemns Kebbi State Governor’s outbursts Against Islamic Cleric.

“The write up was elegantly dressed up to impress or rather mislead the people of Kebbi State under the pretense of Opposition Concern”.

Zuru noted that the writer addressed three issues which includes ‘that the governor restricts some people’s freedom of expression and association; that the governor refused to address issues bothering the state e.g beautification of the State Capital; that the governor ordered the APC to be singled out in the distribution of palliatives among others.

“On the first point, may I humbly and respectfully state that it seems perfect if I say that the writer has been in delusion or rather swimming in the pool of ignorance because while he cared to have the literal knowledge of the adjectives ‘ freedom of expression and association’, he did not bother to know whether those guaranteed rights may have some limitations. I will advise the writer to read defamation laws, Hate Speech laws etc.

“The governor will definitely not sit down to watch citizens publish vulgar, defamatory statements that are likely to endanger public peace all in the guise of freedom of expression. It is part of his function to protect or prevent any breach of public peace by taking proactive measures which obviously includes issuance of warning to anyone making such attempts.

“In my own view, the governor is even patient and magnanimous enough by his soft mindedness to issue the warning. If it were another governor, he would have ordered for the arrest of the offending party.

“If the statements of the Cleric offends the principle of legality or the principle of legitimacy and is likely to cause breach of public peace, you expect the governor to fold his arms and watch? You must be joking.

“Freedom of expression is contained in section 39 of the 1999 Constitution while section 40 deals with freedom of association. The two cannot be merged together in this circ*mstance as they are talking about two different things.

“As a challenge, let the writer explain to the world in what way does the governor curtail anybody’s right to associate? I believe the writer cannot substantiate his claim by any evidence.

“On the issue of state developmental policies, it is apt to state that the policies of the present administration are not far-fetched. The governor made it known in words and action. So he needs not be repeating himself every time”.

The Speaker challenged the opposition that where were they and their writer when the governor was busy reconstructing all the Birnin Kebbi roads network?

According to him, “Where was the writer when the governor refused to allow teachers to retire by introducing additional funds to pay them with a view to revive education? Where was the writer when the governor extended hands of fellowship to the PDP leadership which they rejected even before the conclusion of the governorship case?

“Has the writer made enquiry from his PDP Leadership on the palliatives given to them in all the 21 local governments of the state? Where was the writer when the governor supported and urged all Islamic Clerics to pray for the peace in the state ? From the above, it is evident that no governor had ever done what the present governor has done within 10 months in power. Clearly, the writer can only be commended for an articulated write up in language but empty in substance.

“It is therefore advised that Opposition is not madness. Opposition is encouraged only in a manner that is legal, meaningful and reasonable. The writer should have facts and substantial grounds before making any write up as we will be on the watch to challenge or reply anyone who ventures to mislead the good people of Kebbi State by issuance of misleading information with a view to tarnish the image of this administration.

“Take note that, we have the dossiers of every PDP leadership who held strategic positions in the past governments. We shall let the cat out of the casket for the public to know if you don’t stop publishing statements that are capable of bringing rift in Kebbi. You are warned”,.

Kebbi State Governor, Dr. Nasir Idris, while reacting to the opposition party criticism, wondered why they were busy beating the dead horse, He said they should instead criticize his projects and let the world know whether they are good or bad.

Governor Idris, who extended olive branch to opposition parties to join his administration in collective leadership to strengthen good governance and economic prosperity of the state, said the affected Imam voluntarily resigned and they should not blame anybody for his ordeal.

He said: “now that elections and politics are over, I am inviting the people of the state of all shades of opinion irrespective of party affinity to partake actively in the development of our state to reach the level of development desired. Majority of the people voted for me; I am thanking them as well as others for their support, loyalty and cooperation”, he said.

Kebbi: Governor Idris’ many battles with PDP – The Sun Nigeria (2024)
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