Police in Plateau State have urged Muslims in Jos not to observe their Eid-el-Fitr (end of Ramadan) prayer at the Rukuba Road praying ground on Sunday.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Emamanuel Ayeni, made the appeal at a meeting with Muslim and Christian leaders in the state capital on Monday.
He said the move was aimed at avoiding a repeat of last year’s incident when some members of the Izalla Muslim group clashed with their Christian counterparts at the praying ground.
No fewer than 10 people were killed and several cars burnt in the clash.
The plot of land at Rukuba road where the Izala Muslim group worships has been the subject of litigation between Christian groups and the sect.
The meeting, which took place at the Police Officers’ Mess, Tudun Wada, was also attended by the Special Task Force and the State Security Service personnel.
Ayeni said, “Let me use this opportunity to plead with my Muslim brothers on the need to avoid worshiping at Rukuba Road this Sallah. I am passionately appealing that worshippers should avoid that place for now pending when the controversy surrounding that site is resolved.
“For now it is not conducive to pray there. The issue will be resolved soon. I need you to agree with me to avoid going there to pray.”
The STF Commander on Jos crisis, Maj.-Gen. Henry Ayoola, appealed to Muslims for understanding.
Ayoola, who was represented by Umaru Miringa, said, “If a place is under litigation, the wise thing is to avoid using the place until it is resolved. The state government is already making efforts for alternative place of worship for the Izalla group pending when the issue is resolved.”
Chairman Management Committee of Riyom Local Government, Sam Audu, appealed to the Muslim community leaders to caution their youths.
On his part, the Assistant National Secretary of Jama’atu Izalatil Bid’a Waikamatis Sunnah, Mr. Musa Adamu, promised that the Izalla sect would avoid the praying ground during the festive period.
Adamu said, “We will encourage all our people to adhere strictly to the instruction of the security agencies because we have seen reason to agree with them on the need to suspend worshiping at Rukuba Road for now
“We are stakeholders in the peace process and we need to cooperate with security agencies for us to have lasting peace in the state.”
Ethno-religious violence has claimed many lives in the crisis-prone Jos since 2001.