This is the official blog of the Nigeria-based Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a human rights organization which promotes, protects and projects the rights of Muslims. This group condemns terrorism and all acts of violence. Its motto is 'Dialogue, Not Violence'
This year’s hajj fare of N1.5
million announced by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has been
generating ripples. Prospective pilgrims have wondered why the fare is higher
than that of 2016. They have therefore called for a reduction. Other
stakeholders have called on the Federal Government (FG) to subsidise hajj fare.
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) considers the ensuing controversy unnecessary,
uncalled for and a sheer waste of saliva and misuse of calories. The suspicion,
distrust and allegations leveled at NAHCON are equally products of
reveal that 98% of the services rendered by NAHCON in Saudi Arabia are determined
in US dollars. Although 2016 official exchange rate was N197, recession and the
attendant fall of the naira forced 2017 official exchange rate to N305. Whereas
a pilgrim needed just $4,003 in 2016, his need in 2017 has risen to $4,805.
Now, if we multiply
$4,805 by N305, what we will get is N1,465,525 (approximately N1.5m). This is
why NAHCON has pegged the 2017 hajj fare at N1.5 million. Further investigation
has also revealed that air ticket from the North is $1,600 while that of the
South is $1,700. Furthermore, the cost of accommodation in Makkah is $933 while
that of Madina is $430. These are easily verifiable.
MURIC opposes further subsidy for hajj this year for three
reasons. Firstly, FG has already subsidized 2017 hajj because the official
exchange rate is N368 whereas FG allowed N305. Pilgrims would have had to pay N1,768,240
(approximately N1.8m) at the prevailing bank rate of N368 per dollar if FG had
not subsidized at all.
Secondly, Nigeria is in recession and Nigerian Muslims must
be prepared to make sacrifices as government cannot afford to play the prodigal
son at a time like this. About N34b would be needed to subsidise if pilgrims
were to enjoy the 2016 rate of N197 per dollar but this cannot be rationalized in
the face of the current recession.
Thirdly, every special concession granted to Muslims is
most likely to become a subject of controversy as Christian groups are most
likely to challenge FG for taking such an action. We must take the diverse
character of our country into consideration at all times.
It is clear from the
above details that it is highly naïve to blame NAHCON for the increase in hajj
fare. Neither can FG or the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) be blamed. The major
correlate which determines hajj fare is the exchange rate.
The options before us,
therefore, are: one, to ask the National Assembly (NASS) to wade in and lobby
for more concession; two, to appeal to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to
intervene executively and secure a reduction for Muslim pilgrims and, three, to
enlighten prospective Muslim pilgrims and face the reality. The state of the
nation’s economy has automatically knocked off the first two options and unless
we want to rely on primordial sentiments, option number three seems the best in
the present circumstance.
MURIC is therefore constrained to drum the doctrine of manistata‘a
ilayhis-sabiil into the medulla oblongata of 2017 intending pilgrims in
particular and all Muslim faithfuls in general (manistata‘a ilayhis-sabiil means
hajj is for Muslims who have the means). This means hajj is not mandatory on
those who do not have the money to perform it but it becomes compulsory once a
Muslim has the means. But does a Muslim who has the money to perform hajj need
government’s subsidy or sponsorship? The answer is capital ‘NO’.
A radical interpretation of the doctrine of manistata‘a
ilayhis-sabiil will render borrowing from other sources to perform hajj or
compelling government to subsidise the cost of hajj absolutely unnecessary. However,
subsidies and outright sponsorship of citizens on hajj may be rationalized in
an Islamic Republic but Nigeria is not one.
Nigeria has always
been among countries with the largest number of pilgrims in Saudi Arabia every
year. Of more than 2 million Muslims from 183 countries who performed hajj in
2016, Nigeria had 76,000. But how many out of this number contribute anything
to the growth, development and welfare of the Ummah back home?
That is why we want FG
to hands off hajj affairs in Nigeria. FG must allow the Muslim Ummah to
determine its own destiny. If Muslims are to succeed in becoming owners of Islamic
schools, universities, hospitals, libraries, halal hotels and other halal
investments, every intending pilgrim must be compelled to pay a particular
amount to the coffers of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs
(NSCIA) before they leave for hajj. Those going for ‘Umrah should pay something
MURIC reiterates the need for FG and state governments to
stop sponsoring Muslims on hajj. It is counterproductive because it has been
abused severally. Politicians have hijacked it. They sponsor political thugs,
hoodlums, riffraffs, mistresses and prostitutes who may not even be Muslims.
This category of ‘pilgrims’ become recalcitrant in Saudi Arabia. Some members
of the National Assembly also abuse it by seizing those priviledges meant for
hajj officials. This practice should cease forthwith as MURIC is poised to
monitor the procedure with the aim of identifying NASS members who engage in
this immodest behavior. Enough is enough.
As we round up, we reaffirm
our belief that it is time to correct misconceptions about hajj among Muslims. Hajj
is once in a lifetime but we ignore this principle and rush to Saudi Arabia
almost every year. ‘Umrah (lesser hajj) is not compulsory but we force it on
ourselves as an annual ritual. We must open a new leaf. Gone are the days when
anything goes. We must do what is right at all times.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
There has been palpable tension in
Nigeria in the past week as regional separatist groups issue threats and
eviction orders. Reacting to vituperations, insults, abuses and hate speeches emanating
from the Nnamdi Kanu group particularly on Radio Biafra, Arewa youths issued a
90-day quit notice to Igbos residing in the North.
Although Governor Nasir El-Rufai of
Kaduna State quickly issued an arrest order on the leaders of the Arewa youths,
IPOB leaders reacted by ordering Igbo people to immediately embark on an exodus
out of the North. A similar quit notice issued by a Yoruba group to the Igbos
was quickly countered by another Yoruba group.
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) regards these ugly developments as ominous signs.
We condemn all quit notices issued by separatist groups to their fellow
Nigerians of other ethnic groups. It is rash, parochial and unpatriotic.
However, we commend Governor Nasir
El-Rufai of Kaduna State for his proactive directive issued to protect Igbos
living in his domain. Also worthy of commendation is the Inspector General of Police
who issued orders for the arrest of Arewa youths behind the issuance of quit
notice to Igbos in the North. In the same vein, the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji
Abdul Mumin Kabir who pledged to protect Igbos with the last drop of his blood,
deserves encomiums not only from Nigerians but also from the international
appeal to other emirs in the North to follow the example of the Emir of
Katsina. Other efforts aimed at dousing tension should also be embarked upon.
Imams throughout Nigeria but with emphasis on the North should preach the golden
ideals of peace and unity on the minbar every Friday while Christian clerics do
the same on the pulpits every Sunday.
While the visit of the leader of the
Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Ralph
Uwazuruke, to Kaduna for a dialogue with Northern leaders facilitated by
Al-Mustapha is heartwarming, the silence of governors of the Eastern states is
disturbing. We expect governors and traditional rulers from that axis to be
more proactive. Statements similar to those issued by the governor of Kaduna
State and the Emir of Katsina will go a long way in dousing tension nationwide.
Governors and traditional rulers in the South West should do the same thing.
invite Nigerians to be wary of being used by looters and disgruntled politicians
who, having been frustrated by the altruistic, business-like and
result-oriented actions of the present administration, are bent on plunging the
nation into war. We remind discerning citizens of the serial threats publicly issued
by certain people to the effect that they would destroy Nigeria if ex-President
Goodluck Jonathan did not win the 2015 presidential election. Only a people
suffering from collective amnesia will allow such threats to become a reality.
While we acknowledge the progress
being made by the Federal Government (FG) in ensuring the security of lives and
properties (e.g. Boko Haram has been technically defeated); creating jobs for
the teeming army of unemployed youths (e.g. N-Power programme); plugging
loopholes through which looters steal our common patrimony (e.g. introduction
of the Single Treasury Account and the ongoing war against corruption) and
addressing the complaints of regions and ethnic groups (e.g. the commencement
of the dredging of the Niger and the cleaning of environmentally devastated
Ogoniland) we urge FG to accelerate its social welfare packages some of which
are already manifesting encouraging results and address other perceived cases
of marginalization of certain sections.
The above efforts being made by FG speak
eloquently of its acceptance of the ideals of restructuring. In our opinion,
restructuring is synonymous with good governance. We are restructuring if
projects long abandoned in certain sections of the country are given attention,
if new reform bills are being introduced and signed into law and if the general
welfare of the Nigerian people is being addressed.
MURIC appeals to the Fouth Estate of
the realm to play a proactive, mature and responsible role in ensuring peace
and unity in the country. We advise both the print and electronic media to
downplay divisive utterances and hate messages. The press should not forget
that as a crucial partner in governance, it has a duty to join hands with the
government in building a stable, secure and progressive society.
appeal to Nigerians generally to have a change of mindset. We must think
positively about our great country. Balkanisation is not the answer. Neither is
war a better alternative. War does not determine who is right, it only reveals
who is left at the end. Those who started it can never be sure how it will end.
Nigeria lost one million people in the Civil War of 1967 – 1970.
should remember Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Liberia. 800,000 people died in Rwanda.
Sierra Leone lost 500,000. The toll in Liberia’s
first war was 600,000. The second war recorded a casualty figure of 200,000.
Those are small countries with limited population. Nigeria’s population hit 193
million by December 2016. Which country can contain us if we turn ourselves
Finally, we call on the security
agencies nationwide to be on alert and to nip in the bud any attempt at
disturbing the peace. We all need each other.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday
granted the son of former Federal Capital Territory (FCT) minister, Shamsudeen
Bala, permission to travel for ‘Umrah (lesser hajj). Bala is standing trial on
charges of money laundering to the tune of N1.2 billion.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) denounces the
permission granted the accused. The trial judge has been misled. It is a
miscarriage of justice and undue indulgence. Permission to travel abroad is
usually given to accused persons on medical grounds. Religion is not strong
enough as reason for granting an accused person leave to travel outside the
This is a flimsy
excuse. The accused is not even going for hajj (pilgrimage) but for ‘Umrah
which is lesser hajj. It is rather unfortunate that Nigerians engage in
reckless abuse of religion and hide behind it to commit atrocities.
Whereas hajj is the last of the five pillars of Islam,
Nigerian Muslims make it their first priority. Whereas hajj is compulsory only
once in a life time, Nigerian Muslims compel themselves to go every year. Whereas
the Qur’an makes it explicitly clear that hajj is only compulsory on those who
have the wherewithal (Glorious Qur’an 3:97), even poverty-stricken Nigerian
Muslims bend over backwards to look for money by all means to travel to Makkah.
It is only hajj officials who should be permitted to go annually.
This is an aberration
and it is an area the Nigerian authorities should focus on. Efforts should be
geared towards proper education of Nigerians about their religions. Inadequate
or improper knowledge about one’s religion is what usually leads to wrong
perception, religious extremism, violence and terrorism.
Whereas ‘Umrah is not
compulsory, thousands of Nigerian Muslims throng to Saudi Arabia to perform it
every year. Many of them repeat the same exercise on an annual basis even
though it costs no less than one million naira for each person. This
constitutes serious drain on the nation’s foreign exchange while it boosts Saudi
MURIC therefore finds no justification whatsoever for somebody
who is on trial for money laundering to seek permission to go on ‘Umrah and for
that frivolous request to be granted. It is sheer misplacement of priorities. Although
Shamsudeen Bala remains innocent until he is found guilty, it appears the
accused is being unduely rewarded for having the temerity to steal Nigeria’s
That N1.2 billion
which is in contention will go a long way in ameliorating the sufferings of
thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North East or pay the
tuition fees of hundreds of indigent students in Nigerian universities. N1
billion is N1 million in one thousand places and we are talking of N1.2
billion, not just N1 billion. It is a fabulous amount of money in a country
where the minimum wage is a paltry N18,000 and many Nigerians do not know what
they will eat tomorrow.
The average Nigerian
lives on less than $1 per day. Our per capita income is less than $300. Nigeria
is the 26th hungriest country in the world. We are the 20th
poorest nation yet the most ‘fantastically corrupt’.
Bala should thank Allah that he is not behind bars. He
should stay at home and pray to Allah from here. Allah is everywhere. He is
near, not far. He is alive, powerful, wonderful. He does not sleep. He hears
the cries of His servants whenever they call Him (Qur’an 2:186, 255) .
Before we round up, we
assert that MURIC will not celebrate corrupt Muslims. They should clear
themselves in the law courts first. We urge the learned judge to revoke the
permission to travel granted Bala. We charge religious leaders to stop idolising
people whose sources of income are uncertain, people of doubtful character and
those facing corruption charges until they are discharged and acquitted. In the
same vein, we should desist from pampering them with chieftaincy and religious
titles, protecting them or seeking to extenuate their offences.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
MASQUERADE ATTACK ON MOSQUE: YORUBA
MUSLIMS ARE BEING PROVOKED
Muslims inside the Central Mosque in Ikun Ekiti, Moba Local Government Area of
Ekiti state on Tuesday, 30th May, 2017. The incident occurred around
7 pm in the evening when the Muslims had just broken their fast and they were
observing the Maghrib prayer. Several worshippers were injured and some
of them were hospitalized after the attack. Two cars parked outside the mosque
were damaged. The mosque also suffered damage.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) strongly condemns this attack
on peace-loving and law-abiding Muslims. It is most barbaric, most provocative
and highly unacceptable.
This attack cannot be
isolated from the hostile and belligerent attitude of the governor of Ekiti
State, Ayodele Fayose, towards Muslims in the state as well as their mosques. We
are inclined to declare that the masquerades who attacked Muslims inside their
mosques in Ikun Ekiti took the cue from the governor’s open hostility towards
Ekiti Muslims and his determination to destroy mosques in the state. It is
already clear that Fayose has declared Muslims in the state as persona non grata
and their mosques legitimate targets for destruction.
MURIC therefore charges the Inspector General of Police
(IGP) to wade into the matter before the total breakdown of law and order in
the state. We demand immediate arrest and prosecution of the culprits. This
will discourage reprisal attacks by those who feel that they have been victimized.
The fact that the
Muslims were attacked inside their mosque is quite instructive. The
masqueraders alleged that they had warned the Muslims not to pray during their
Egungun festival. They claimed that the adhan (Muslim call to prayer) that
was called provoked them.
This is nauseating.
When did the Muslims’ adhan turn into a weapon of mass destruction? Who
did the adhan injure? How can the prayers being offered by Muslims inside
their own mosque become pernicious to the masquerades who were passing by? The
worship of one faithful should not deter another from his own worship.
We admit that the masquerades have a right to mark their
festival. But their right stops where that of the Muslims starts. Egungun
worshippers have no right under the sun to enter the mosque in the first place,
talk less of going there to attack those inside with dangerous weapons. Their
right to hold a rally and go round the city of Ikun Ekiti stops at the
doorsteps of the mosque. They can pass by but they should not enter the mosque.
Every Nigerian knows
the times that Muslims observe prayers. Those masquerades or their sponsors
have no right to ask Muslims to suspend their prayer because they want to pass.
We Muslims love our neighbours and we are prepared to coexist peacefully but on
equal terms. We are not second class citizens and we will not accept
intimidation of any kind.
We assert the right of
Muslims to call the adhan and pray at the scheduled times. No homo
sapien should deprive them of this Allah-given fundamental human right.
Freedom of religion is firmly entrenched in the Nigerian constitution, not
freedom for one religion to laud it over the other. Section 38 (i) & (ii) of
the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is very clear about
This attack has blown the lid off the myth of religious
tolerance in the South West. There is nothing like it. Muslims are facing
persecution in Yorubaland. The wind has blown. We have seen the ruff of the
hen. The reality is that religious tolerance in the South West is restricted to
relations, colleagues at work and known faces.
This is why Muslims and Christians may live together in the
same house without fighting. It does not extend to unknown faces. It does not accommodate
the institution of religion itself. Religious tolerance in the South West is
therefore a farce, a mirage. Unless something is done urgently to address this ugly
phenomenon, religious crisis in the South West hangs above our heads like the
sword of Damocles.
For instance, none of
the masquerades who attacked the Muslims inside their mosque on that day will
fight any of his siblings at home for being a Muslim. Neither will he attack
his Muslim colleague at work. But he will be among the first to cry foul if
Muslims make any demand as a corporate body. There is no genuine love, no real tolerance.
This is the bitter truth.
It is therefore high
time the wings of traditional worshippers were clipped. They arrogate
illegitimate powers to themselves, e.g. by unilaterally declaring curfews for
the purpose of rituals. No followers of one religion should have the power to
restrict the movements of adherents of another religion. Yet this is what traditional
religionists have been doing over the years. The police often ignore this breach
of the law and allow traditionalists to unleash reign of terror on law-abiding
Yet again we have a lesson to draw here. This kind of
incident is what often leads to terrorism. Muslims are often accused of being
violent. Our contention is that violence or terrorism is ordinary smoke and
there can never be smoke without fire. The fire of terrorism is provocation.
Those who deride Muslims, those who stigmatise them and those who encroach on Allah-given
and fundamental human rights of Muslims are the real terrorists. Worse still,
law enforcement agents who refuse to take action against those who provoke
Muslims are equally culpable. What action has the Ekiti Police Command taken after
the brutalization of Muslims by masquerades in Ikun Ekiti mosque?
As we round up, we
call on the IGP to quickly wade into the furore. Masquerades who attacked
Muslims inside the mosque in Ikun Ekiti must be arrested and prosecuted for,
breaking and entering, willful damage, thuggery, hooliganism, attempted murder
and breach of the peace. The Nigerian Police must nip illegal curfews in the
bud by making a strong statement banning unauthorised curfew anywhere in
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)