|Wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha Buhari|
More facts have emerged over the controversial closure of the Children’s Church of the Aso Villa Chapel, located within the Nigerian Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Recall that The Trent broke the story exposing President Muhammadu Buhari’s moves to shutdown Christian activities within Presidential Villa on September 3, 2015.
Our investigations revealed that worshippers of the Church were confronted by security operatives on the morning of Sunday of August 30, 2015 who prevented them from entering the Chapel to begin worship at 7am as they usually do. When confronted, the security operatives, said to be “fierce-looking” and “armed” by witnesses who spoke with The Trent, said they were acting on “orders from above”.
|Professor Yemi Osinbanjo and wife, Dolapo make an entrace at Aso Rock Chapel in the Presidential Villa on his first Sunday as Vice President on May 31, 2015 (Photo Credit: Sesco)|
It wasn’t until Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who worships in the Chapel, arrived around 8am, intervened by speaking with the security operatives, were the worshippers allowed to assemble in the Chapel for their service. According to eye witnesses, Osinbajo was “visibly embarrassed” and “could be seen managing to conceal a worried expression over the incident”.
Following the national uproar that greeted our exclusive report, the Nigerian Presidency responded with stiff denials. Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina vehemently denied that such an incident ever happened on his Twitter and Facebook pages. Prince Laolu Akanda, media adviser to Vice President Osinbajo and a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, also flatly denied the report on Twitter.
The Chaplain, Seyi Malomo, later confirmed this incident. While speaking to the press, the cleric attempted to downplay the significance of this brazen show of power by Buhari and the First Lady by describing it as a “procedural problem”.
Vanguard has since put forward six questions to the Presidency on this matter. The Presidency is yet to respond to the questions which would offer clues as to why Buhari risk his democratic credentials by moving against religious freedom in Aso Rock.
About two months before this shocking incident, the Children’s Church in the Chapel, where the wife of the Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo worships with the children who attend the church, was locked up under the orders of Buhari.
|Professor Yemi Osinbanjo and wife, Dolapo visit the Children’s Church in Aso Rock Chapel in the Presidential Villa and prays for the children on his first Sunday as Vice President on May 31, 2015 (Photo Credit: Sesco)|
Last week, new information emerged on the incident which has generated heated debates on the possibility of Buhari’s government clamping down on religious freedoms across the country. Vanguardreported that the Children’s Church was initially locked up on the orders of the wife of President Buhari, Aisha Buhari and that the facility was being used for storage.
As a result of this action, which has been brought to the knowledge of the President, the children of the Aso Villa Church have been forced to worship in the Chaplain’s office, which is a small space making worship uncomfortably for the over 50 children members of the Church.
This revelation by the Vanguard corroborates a storyline that was circulated on Facebook by agents of the federal government in an attempt to discredit The Trent’s exclusive and factual report.
|DG of the DSS, Lawal Musa Daura, native of Daura in Katsina pictured in a handshake with his kinsman, General Muhammadu Buhari | APC Photo|
Our research traced the origins of a slanderous propaganda piece to a Facebook user by name Chetaala Ilo. He is linked with top officials of the security agency of Nigeria’s Secret Police, the Department of State Security Services (DSS) and believed by security analysts and profilers to be a security operative with the DSS. This person, has used this Facebook account to issue direct threats The Trent’s Executive Editor, Aziza Uko in the early days of Buhari’s regime.
The government propaganda material revealed that the closure of the Children’s Church was on the orders of Aisha Buhari who moved to convert the facility for a “personal project”. According to Ilo, Mrs. Buhari had begun renovation of the facility to meet her undisclosed purpose. But, some weeks after she locked out the children from worshipping in their church, Buhari got wind of the development and angrily ordered a stop to the renovations and also directed that the Children’s Church be sealed.
Aisha Buhari’s Intent Revealed
Our investigations have now uncovered the mystery “personal project” of Aisha Buhari. According to a source close to the Presidency, the wife of the President is converting the Children’s Church of the Aso Villa Chapel to a state-of-the-art spa for her private use.
“We have heard a lot of things being reported in the media, but, let me tell you the whole truth, Mrs. Buhari is converting the place to a spa,” our source told our reporter, on condition of anonymity. “She moved in boxes and bags of creams, soaps, and other cosmetics she sold in her spa in Kaduna.”
According to the source, when Aisha Buhari moved to the Presidential residence of the Aso Rock Villa, she discovered there wasn’t enough space for her belongings which included the consumables and sundry spa equipment she used in her beauty and wellness business establishment in Kaduna. So, she decided to shop for an alternative space within the Villa premises, an exercise which ended with her ill-advised decision to convert the Children’s Church to her personal spa.
“The Children’s Church is under permanent lock-and-key,” our source said. “The President’s wife took over the place and plans to install a new jacuzzi and new sauna and replace some old equipment which she brought from Kaduna. Renovations and fitting of new equipment were underway before the work was stalled.”
Mrs. Buhari is founder and managing director of Hanzy Spa and Hanzy Beauty Institute, “one of the biggest spas and beauty institutes in the country located in a high-brow area of Ungwan-Rimi Government Residential Area in Kaduna”, according to The Punch. “It is the first beauty institute in Northern Nigeria and a National Board of Technical Education accredited vocational training centre and registered by the Ministry of Education.”
The May report, says that when General Buhari won the Presidential elections in March, 2015, the First Lady closed her business, a “beehive of activities”, and relocated with her husband to Abuja where he resumed office as President. She, however, did not close down the Abuja branch of her beauty business located in Wuse 2.
A Borno-based Pro Buhari Pastor Reveals More
According to a report by Daily Post, the closure of the children’s section of the chapel has been confirmed by a Borno State-based cleric, Kallamu Musa Dikwa. He is the same pro-Buhari preacher who played a prominent role in mobilizing Christian votes for Buhari during the March elections.
Dikwa expressed surprise that President Muhammadu Buhari would allow his wife to take such an action on a Federal Government property.
He said: “Let them not deceive Nigerians. I can confirm to you that that section of the church has been converted to a storage room by Mrs. Aisha Buhari, wife of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I don’t want to think that the President authorized her action, Nevertheless, he should have done something by now because it is a serious matter.
When asked of the items that are being put in the children’s room following its closure, Dikwa said: “I really don’t know, but I was reliably informed that she brought some items to the villa and could not get a place to keep them.
“To our dismay, she directed some staff to move the items inside the children’s church and then ordered it locked. The security operatives that initially blocked its entrance did so with her knowledge and I dare her to publicly deny.
“What my source told me is that Mrs Buhari said the children’s church is a safer place to keep the items. This is not right. Why would she insist on that particular building in a place as big as the villa? Is she saying there is no other safe place apart from a place of worship?”
Dikwa therefore called on President Buhari to salvage the sorry situation saying: “He promised to unite Nigeria; he promised not to marginalize any religion but what is going on inside Aso Rock is different.
“People like me that were security risks for throwing our weight behind President Buhari are now at risk again because of this action of his wife.
“I have lost count of the number of calls I have received since the news concerning the children’s church broke out. While some are threatening me, some are mocking me that I and others endorsed Buhari who seemed to have turned blind eye to this act.
“They are saying ‘see the man you said will bring change, are you seeing what is happening now. We hope you are satisfied. After all, we warned you but you didn’t heed our advise.
“It is because we were tired of the corruption going on; we believed in the change mantra. So you can guess what I am going through in the hands of those who alleged that Buhari had a hidden Islamic agenda.”