Sheikh Muhammad Nura Khalid has described those who booted him out as the Chief Imam of the National Assembly Quarters’ Jum’mat Mosque in Abuja as hypocrites.
Mr Khalid gave the description in an interview with Vanguard, weeks after he was expelled from the position he has occupied for more than a decade.
The clergyman was first suspended after attacking the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari on worsening insecurity, particularly the Abuja-Kaduna bound train attack where terrorists, injured many, killed eight and abducted a yet-to-be ascertained number of passengers.
Two days after his sermon, the Apo Legislators’ Quarters Central Committee announced his suspension and thereafter expelled him for not being remorseful, an action he now described as a reward that has thrown him to more limelight.
“They are the ones calling their actions punishment,” the cleric said. “They intended to punish me, but they rewarded me, because Nigerians now know about me more than before.
“I am more popular now than ever and more people have listened to my sermon in the video. Even if they are really punishing me, I can absorb it. I can’t change. I will never feel free and happy that Nigerians are dying or support incompetence and lack of political will to deal with bandits and crime. It is not me who is saying ‘No’ to killings who is supposed to change, but the bandits.
“It is government that will deal with them to change. If you have the power to punish anyone, go and punish the bandits. You can’t flex your power in the mosque. I have been in the service of the mosque for 15 years and I have criticized previous governments,” he recalled.
His suspension and expulsion letters were signed by Senator Saidu Dansadau, head of the mosque committee.
Sheikh Khalid alleged that the former Zamfara Central lawmaker who accused him of using the pulpit to criticize the government have also did same severally in the past.
The cleric said those who sacked him for calling on President Buhari to address rising insecurity in the country once hailed him when he criticised and called on former president Goodluck Jonathan to resign in the past through the same pulpit.
“Under Jonathan regime, I said ‘No’ to killings till the extent that I asked the President to resign. It is there in the records. At that time, they were happy and congratulating me. Were they silent? I don’t have any record of them writing to me at that time to condemn my action. How much is even my allowance from the mosque? I will like them to answer if in the last 15 years, there has been any internal or external audit of the mosque,” he said.
“But Senator Dansadau made it clear that there is nothing wrong with criticizing government, but that the pulpit is not the best place for doing so, because the mosque is a religious space. How do you respond to that?
“Well, I can’t understand his language, because I have a record of Dansadau using the mosque to preach and to criticize government and I can produce it. He did that not once but many times. He did it against a government I don’t want to mention, because I don’t want to be seen as favoring one over another.
“However, let me clarify that there is a difference between criticizing policies and being political. We know that campaign was done in that mosque for this administration,” he added.