By John Ikani
An Islamic cleric removed from his post for criticising President Muhammadu Buhari has told the BBC that he would not stop criticising Nigerian government’s failure to curb insecurity ravaging the country until the problem is tackled.
Sheikh Muhammad Nuru Khalid was the Chief Imam of the Apo Legislative Quarters Mosque in Abuja until he was sacked on Monday.
The sack came days after after his suspension on Saturday over a sermon he delivered last Friday criticising Nigerian leaders including President Muhammadu Buhari over insecurity in the country.
“You have been given four years and an addition, yet people are dying like fowls, killing is becoming the norm in Nigeria under your watch Mr President,” his scathing sermon read in part.
Speaking to BBC on the development chairman of the mosque Committee, Senator Sa’idu Dansadau said he had spoken to the imam on several occasions about his preaching but that his last sermon was akin to throwing petrol on fire.
Senator Dansadau is from Zamfara state in north-west Nigeria which has been ravaged by bandits’ attacks that killed hundreds, a point not lost on the Sheikh.
“The chairman of the mosque is from Zamfara state, he cannot visit his village today. The deputy chairman of the committee is from Niger state, he cannot go there too,” he said.
Fondly called the Digital Imam, Sheikh Khalid has since turned to Facebook and other social networks to continue his preaching amid growing interest in his sermons.
Speaking to Nigeria’s Vanguard Newspaper on Monday night, the Sheikh disclosed that he has been given a fresh appointment by the Management Committee of a new Jum’mat Mosque behind the Central Bank Nigeria, CBN Quarters, Abuja.
Khalid who noted that he was undeterred by his sack, added that he is set to lead his new congregation with effect from Friday, April 8.
According to him, “My sack is a reflection of how Nigeria is today. Many people are hiding under the cover of religion to perpetrate all manner unwholesome acts.
“Such people would stop at nothing to take away people like me, who are pro-masses and bold enough to speak the truth to power always on behalf of voiceless Nigerians.
“This is the price we pay for aligning with the people and identifying with their sufferings.
“By the Grace of Almighty Allah, I will be leading my new congregation this Friday, because as cleric we need a platform for operate.
“There’s a Jum’mat mosque we built behind the CBN Quarters, in Abuja; I will now be leading the congregation there.”
Northern Nigeria is in the grip of a spate of insecurity with motorcycle bandits sacking several villages in the north-west and a decade-long war on insurgency in the north-east that has displaced hundreds of thousands.