Wednesday, January 17, 2018

ARREST ALL KILLERS, NOT BENUE KILLERS ALONE



17th January, 2018
PRESS RELEASE:
ARREST ALL KILLERS, NOT BENUE KILLERS ALONE
The Nigerian Senate yesterday gave the Inspector General of Police (IG) 14 days to arrest and prosecute Benue killers.    

While the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) welcomes this development, we see the need for clarification and modification of Senate’s request.

In the first place, we need to ask whether the killers who should be arrested are just herdsmen who have been accused of killings in Benue. If this is so, there is need for modification particularly in the light of the exposure of a killer army being sponsored by Benue State authorities and the claim by herdsmen that the Benue militia had been killing Fulanis in the state. Therefore IG must not only arrest killer herdsmen but also arrest, detain and prosecute killer militiamen in illegal camps in Benue.

Secondly, IG’s deterrent action must not be limited to Benue alone. He must spread his dragnet to Taraba, Plateau and other volatile states where killings of all forms have occurred. The herdsmen have complained that 1,000 of their men have been killed in different states while two million of their cattle have been rustled. No serious security outfit can close its eyes to this allegation if it wants enduring peace.

What MURIC is saying is that arresting and prosecuting herdsmen alone for killings in Benue can only give Nigeria peace of the graveyard. It will not last. For lasting peace, we must fish out those who have been killing herdsmen and rustling their cows. That is comprehensive justice. Only a holistic disciplinary action can halt the cycle of violence.


MURIC is deeply concerned that nobody was arrested when 732 Fulanis were killed in Mambila, Plateau State. We are greatly worried that the security agents looked on as 82 women and children of Fulani stock were massacred in Numan, Adamawa State by Bachama militiamen. Again, what did the IG do when 24 Fulanis were killed in Lau? What did the army do when 96 Fulanis were cut down in cold blood in Kajuru, Kaduna State?


Our pertinent question here is: are Fulanis not human beings like other Nigerians? Can we imagine the total number of lives lost by the Fulani within a period of seven months? To us in MURIC, every Nigerian life is precious. Killers are killers no matter where they come from. But we must not stigmatise a whole tribe because of the criminal activities of a few. We must separate killers from their tribes and their religion.


There are law-abiding, patriotic and good citizens among the Christians, Muslims and traditionalists but criminal elements are also in all faiths. It is the same among all ethnic groups. The fact that Evans is a kidnapper does not make all Igbo indigenes kidnappers. As we have criminal Fulanis and Tivs, so we have erudite scholars, seasoned lawyers, high profile politicians, experienced administrators and business moguls among them. Oyenusi, a Yoruba man, was the first armed robber executed by a firing squad in Nigeria, but does that make all Yoruba people armed robbers?


Those who ethnicise or religionise killings are enemies of Nigeria. They are deliberately inviting anarchy. But we must exercise caution because nobody knows who will survive a national pogrom. How can anybody in his right senses say the killings in Benue are targeted at Christians?


Are the people of Zamfara also Christians? Killings in Zamfara have been occurring for years yet nobody did anything. The Nigerian Army, the police and DSS went to sleep. The press looked the other way. 23 locals were killed in Daraga in October 2011. 48 lives were terminated in June 2013 in Kizara village. More than 200 people were massacred in April 2014 in Unguwar Galadima. 50 were slaughtered in Kwanar Dutse in February 2016. 36 were killed in Bindin in November of the same year while another 23 people were killed in Tungar Kahau and Mallamawa, all in Zamfara State alone. All the victims were Muslims but nobody showed concern.


To cut a long story short, we charge the IG to conduct a comprehensive and impartial investigation, arrest, detention and prosecution of all killers among the herdsmen, Benue militia, Bachama terrorists and all criminal elements who are cutting short the lives of innocent Nigerians. We urge the press to avoid assymetrical journalism and to Nigerianise their reportage, particularly in sensitive cases like that of Benue.  


Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)


Sunday, January 14, 2018

MURIC CONDEMNS PAYMENT OF 40M CASH TO EX-HEADS OF STATE



15th January, 2018
PRESS RELEASE:
MURIC CONDEMNS PAYMENT OF 40M CASH
TO EX-HEADS OF STATE
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, on Thursday 11th January, 2018 revealed that the government paid N40 million to a former president, instead of buying vehicles as prescribed by law. He added that the decision was adopted so the former leaders could purchase vehicles they prefer.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) strongly denounces this decision. It is heartless, anti-people and capitalist-driven. The Nigerian system makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.


How decent are we as a people if thousands of retirees are denied their benefits for years but we proudly present huge amounts of money to former presidents and ex-heads of state? Where is our humanity if a whopping N40 million is paid to an ex-president who arrogated all the honey and milk in the land to himself while in office but we still pay a paltry N18,000 as minimum wage to workers who grease the machines of our economy?


This socio-economic imbalance emboldens criminals, frustrates the youth and diminishes patriotism. Worse still, it slows down the war against corruption because the Federal Government (FG) alone cannot fight corruption. It needs the people to join the fight. But how will an overworked, underpaid, impoverished and oppressed people who are living witnesses to the waste of our common wealth willingly join the fight?


The truth is that perhaps no present ex-president or former head of state lives in penury as at today. We can only think of just one probability and we will prefer to keep his identity private for obvious reasons. Our ex-presidents are not in dire need of cars from FG. Majority of them are in palatial mansions on hilltops in choice locations all over the country.  


This social order is unacceptable to MURIC. Super-rich ex-presidents should be giving to the poor masses, not sucking from our blood again. It adds salt to injury. Islam encourages equitable distribution of wealth. In particular, Qur’an 59:7 condemns the concentration of resources in the hands of a few wealthy individuals. What FG has done is unIslamic. It is haram to take from the poor or to deny them payment for services rendered only to give more to rich ex-presidents for doing nothing. It is haram to ignore the cries of pensioners while buying new cars for leaders.


As we round up, we warn President Muhammadu Buhari not to abandon poor Nigerians or to succumb to blackmail from greedy and selfish citizens but to remain focused in his determination to rid Nigeria of wasteful spending. Allah will ask every leader how he conducted the affairs of his people yaom al-Qiyamah (the Day of Resurrection).
  

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

N18,000 MINIMUM WAGE RENDERS NIGERIA A HUGE JOKE



11th January, 2018
PRESS RELEASE:

N18,000 MINIMUM WAGE RENDERS NIGERIA A HUGE JOKE
The Federal Government (FG) has signaled its intention to review the national  minimum wage this year 2018.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) received the news with mixed feelings. Laudable as it is, we believe it is belated.

The average Nigerian worker is deliberately impoverished by those elected by him. He is overworked, underpaid and overtaxed. A worker’s pay cannot take him home. The average Nigerian lives on less than $1 per day. Per capita income is less than $300.

Yet on top of this economically gloomy scenario, prices of goods and services have hit the rooftop. Education, for instance, has gone beyond the reach of children of civil servants. With WAEC registration fee standing at N13,950 with NECO charging N11,400 and JAMB candidates paying about N8,500 (including post-JAMB), the average civil servant is forced to cough out a total of N33,850.00 for a single child. He may have up to four children or more and minimum wage is just N18,000.00. It is quite glaring that civil servants have to cut corners to make ends meet. When will Nigeria wake up from this huge joke?

A country actively fighting corruption should not impoverish its civil service. FG as at today appears to be leading its own civil service into the temptation to steal. The way out of this conundrum is to raise minimum wage significantly from the present N18,000 to N50,000 as requested by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC).

If it is true that a senator takes home an average of N36,000,000 (thirty-six million naira) monthly while a honourable member of the House of Representatives earns N25,000,000 (twenty-five million naira) as monthly salary, what moral justification do we have to peg minimum wage at N18,000? How can we open our eyes and allow this legislative looting of our commonwealth to continue? This yawning gap and the attendant socio-economic imbalance is mainly responsible for the surge in crime wave. We will like to suggest a drastic cut in lawmakers’ salary and an upward review of the minimum wage as stated earlier.

From this unconfirmed assumption, Nigeria pays its 109 senators N3,924,000,000.00 (three billion, nine hundred and twenty four million naira) monthly. The 360 members of the House of Representatives receive a total monthly salary of N9,000,000,000.00 (nine billion naira). In essence the monthly salary of Nigeria’s lawmakers is, presumably, N12,924,000,000 (twelve billion nine hundred and twenty four million naira). Where are we going?

By raw calculation, the annual salary of Nigeria’s lawmakers is N155,088,000,000 (one hundred and fifty five billion, eighty eight million naira). Half of this humongous amount is enough to employ more than 150,000 Nigerians at a salary of N50,000 only per month. Lawmakers earn N2.2 million in America, N1.3 million in Britain and N305,058 in India. Why are we like this?

This situation explains why 80 million Nigerians live below poverty level. Nigeria is the 26th poorest and the 20th hungriest nation in the world. 2% of Nigerians own 90% of bank deposits while only 1% of the Nigerian population consumes 85% of its resources, leaving the remaining 15% for 99% of the population. While poor Nigerians sleep under the bridge, our capitalist oppressors book whole floors and wings in the most expensive hotels for a whole year! Who did this to Nigeria?     

Sacrifices were made by both the president and his vice at the inception of this administration. What is our lawmakers’ input? Why shouldn’t Nigeria’s lawmakers sacrifice half of their salary if it will help reduce the army of unemployed youths on our streets? How many of our lawmakers have come out boldly to declare their assets? Is N12.5 million naira not enough for a member of the House of Representatives as monthly salary? Is N18 million too small as monthly salary for a senator? How can a lawmaker earn seventy times the salary of a university professor? What value are we giving education and perseverance?

We propose that Nigeria’s minimum wage should be raised to N50,000. We also suggest payment of only half of the salary of our present lawmakers (whatever that is). The deducted half should be used by FG to pay WAEC, NECO, JAMB and Post-JAMB fees of all Nigerian students as a relief for the impoverished tax-payers. FG should be prepared to subsidise it if the amount deducted from lawmakers’ salary is not sufficient.


As we round up, MURIC assures Nigerians that we feel the pain of the downtrodden. We know the devastating frustration of parents whose children have to drop out of school simply because they cannot afford the fees. We are middle-roaders and socio-intellectual jihadists seeking freedom for the oppressed, food for the hungry, healing for the sick, clothing apparels for the naked and shelter for the homeless regardless of their religious or ethnic background.



Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

ARREST OF SPONSORED BENUE MILITIA: THERE MUST BE NO COVERUP



10th January, 2018
PRESS RELEASE:
ARREST OF SPONSORED BENUE MILITIA:
THERE MUST BE NO COVERUP

Nine fully armed sponsored Benue militia were arrested yesterday at Arufu by soldiers from 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army stationed in Takum, Taraba State.  The men, who had five fully loaded Ak-45 rifles, allegedly claimed to be members of government sponsored security volunteer group.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) expresses shock at this discovery. It is a dangerous precedent and a can of worms. It puts Nigeria at the edge of the precipice.


Among other things, it implies not just a tacit approval of organized killings by the government of Benue State but also state sponsorship of groups behind genocidal attacks. There is no doubt that the victims of these attacks who have been constant targets of the terror group are Fulanis, whether they are herdsmen or not. The revelation that their number is more than seven hundred (700) in the camp is equally alarming.


We strongly suspect that there is more than one camp and that those in the camps have been involved in inter-state killing operations, probably disguising as herdsmen at times in order to hang killings on the necks of herdsmen. There is an urgent need to dig deeper because those nine men are mere guinea pigs and they will not know what they are not supposed to know.


It exposes the deceitful game at play in the middle belt. While some state governments appear to have conspired albeit clandestinely to officially grant hoodlums the licence to kill Fulanis, a powerful anti-herdsmen propaganda machinery is set in motion churning out falsehood and inciting the populace against Fulanis. In the meantime the average Nigerian has been deceived into believing that herdsmen are killers. He took the propaganda hook, line and sinker.
The revelation that the arrested militia men were being trained by ex-service men is equally unnerving.


Those who blamed President Muhammadu Buhari for being behind the killings have also been deceived because clashes between herdsmen and locals in the region are of great antiquity. In particular, the killings rose dramatically during the tenure of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, as far back as 2013, particularly in the months of February, April, May, July and November of that year. For example, we recall the massacre of fifteen Fulani men by heavily armed men on 2nd April, 2014 when Fulani settlements at Kadarko and Rugar Ardo Sodangi in Keana Local Government, Nasarawa State were raided.


We note with grave concern that tension between herdsmen and locals are aggravated mostly in Christian-dominated communities while state governments in the South east and South West who have enacted anti-grazing laws and whose governors have openly demonstrated animosity towards herdsmen and Muslims are also mainly from such areas. Unless we are deceiving ourselves, there is a subterranean anti-Muslim sentiment under the guise of anti-grazing.


Nigerians get it wrong when they fail to separate criminals from their religion or ethnic background. Those who connect Fulani herdsmen to Islam and whip up anti-Muslim sentiment have chosen a very dangerous angle. Both history and faith have bound Fulanis and Nigerian Muslims together. Reading between the lines, anti-Fulani propaganda and hostile acts against the Fulani cannot be divorced from attacks on Muslims. By the same token, genocide aimed at the Fulani is indubitably mass killing of Muslims.


MURIC invites Nigerians to eschew tribal compartmentalization and religious profiling. We are all from Adam (peace be upon him) and Adam came from ordinary sand. It is the children of the same father who are attacking themselves when Christians and Muslims lock horns. Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham, peace be upon him) would be most unhappy today if he were to witness how his children are killing each other. Most of us did not choose the religion we follow today. Neither did we choose our tribe by ourselves. We were born into them. We could have been born in China or Russia. Nigerians should ponder over this and give peace a chance.


MURIC charges the Federal Government to seize the initiative. The state government cannot be trusted at this stage to investigate the arrest of the militia men. They should be taken to Abuja for further investigations. Those found culpable (and this includes their sponsors, trainers, accessories before and after the fact, etc) should be dealt with according to the laws of the land. There should be no sacred cows.   


Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)