Mosque, Politics And Sermon By Umar Jibrilu Gwandu

I can recall that in 2011 a Jumu’at Imam was sacked for his sermon against the government, politicians and owners of the mosque. It was in Birnin-Kebbi.

There are at least three things special about the mosque. First, it is owned by a prominent politician who was the National Chairman of the then ruling party. Secondly, the mosque is identified by the owner. Thirdly, the mosque was attached to the house of the owner.

The Imam thought that he could preach and deliver sermon based on his “pristine” understanding of his faith. He got the temerity and audacity. He delivered sermons against the owner, against the government and against the ruling party. The Imam was sacked.

As an inquisitive journalist and the then correspondent of a leading national daily, I was among the first reporters that wanted to interview the Imam. The Imam was not aware that he was sacked. He denied the issue ab initio.

I still admire the way the mosque committee and the Imam handled the matter with maturity and sense of reasoning.

The mosque Committee arranged and asked the Imam in question to go to a different mosque while the Imam of the other mosque came (as a visiting Imam) and led the Jumu’at prayer. This happened on the Friday that was the eve of the 2011 General Elections.

When I went to interview the sacked Imam, he told me that he was not sacked he was only asked to swap mosque with the Imam as a new arrangement.

He said the plan, as he was told, was because of the guests (read politicians) from Abuja who accompanied the owner of the mosque.

They told the sacked Iman that they don’t want give an impression that the politician who doubled as the ownwr of the mosque lacked grassroot support as even the mosque he owned could deliver sermon against him. The Imam had to go to the other assigned mosque (since he is not the owner). The timing was well-thought.

The next day was election day. People were interested in whether elections materials reached their poling units or not. Journalists were busy reporting elections (and possible irregularities). Analysts were making comments on voter apathy and turn out. Before you know it was about elections results. Nobody was interested in an Imam of a private mosque. The Imam was gone. The rest was history.

Umar Jibrilu Gwandu

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