Friday, September 23, 2016

PRO-PATIENCE JONATHAN PROTEST WAS A RENTED CROWD




24th September, 2016
PRESS RELEASE:
PRO-PATIENCE JONATHAN PROTEST WAS A RENTED CROWD
Hundreds of youths reportedly staged a protest in Port Harcourt yesterday in support of Mrs. Patience Jonathan, wife of ex-President Jonathan. Mrs. Jonathan recently had her bank account frozen for laundering huge sums of money. In particular, the sums of $26 million and $15 million were reportedly deposited in bank accounts which were allegedly opened by the former First Lady using the names of her domestic staffers.         

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) strongly denounces the Port Harcourt protest. It is diversionary, unethical and unpatriotic. Those who organized it can better be described as opportunists, political prostitutes and myopic elements. The protest is heavily tainted with ethnic jingoism.

It is preposterous that some youths could stand up to stage protests in support of anyone accused of looting the treasury without critically assessing the facts of the case at a time when shocking revelations prove that looters pushed Nigeria’s economy into stormy waters. This ugly incident dents the image of Nigerian youths and casts a thick shadow of doubt on the moral fiber of Nigeria’s future leaders.  

It is instructive that the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has disowned the group as impersonators. This strengthens our suspicion that a rented crowd staged the protest. It is further proof that corruption is fighting back and dirty too.

MURIC salutes the CLO for its courage in publicly dissociating itself from the shameful hocus pocus. We call on Nigerians to stop manifesting ethnic or religious bias in the war against corruption. A thief is a thief no matter his or her tribe or faith. Nigerians also need to realize that the impact of corrupt practices in terms of impoverishing the masses and depriving them of high quality living standard is felt by all regardless of political, tribal or religious affiliation.

We advise Mrs. Patience Jonathan and others in her shoes to desist from taking desperate steps. The former First Lady should allow the law to take its due course. We remind her of the basic legal principle that she remains innocent until proved otherwise by a competent court of law. No one has the right to drag this country down with him or her. Nigeria is bigger than any individual, no matter how highly placed.

As we round up, we call on members of civil society and Nigerians in general to be wary of desperate looters and political shenanigans looking for hungry Nigerians to fight their dirty war. Looters eat alone. Let them face the music alone. Let us all unite to save this country from the claws of political oppressors and socio-economic predators. Let us all fight corruption without any political, ethnic or religious bias. Let us think of the Nigeria project, not politics, not tribe, not faith.


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

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

REMOVE BOTTLENECKS IN REPATRIATION OF LOOTED FUNDS



22nd September, 2016
PRESS RELEASE:
REMOVE BOTTLENECKS IN REPATRIATION OF LOOTED FUNDS
Although Nigeria officially went into recession a few weeks ago, Western countries still continue to dilly dally over the possible repatriation of the country’s stolen funds being kept in their vaults.        

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) frowns at the West’s unnecessary delay in the repatriation of funds stolen from Nigeria. It amounts to stealing by proxy, neo-imperialism and financial terrorism.  


Staggering amounts allegedly stolen by past officials of the Nigerian government are enough to rescue Nigeria from the current economic quagmire. Abacha loot alone is estimated to be about $11.3 billion. Fifty five Nigerians stole N1.34 trillion in eight years from 2007 to 2015. N30 trillion which represents some accruable income to the Federal Government during the last four years of the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan is allegedly missing. NNPC allegedly failed to remit a whopping $3.8bn and N358.3bn to the Federal Government account in 2013. Nigeria also reportedly lost about $15 billion to arms fraud during the Jonathan regime.


The lion share of the looted funds has been traced to Western countries. But instead of releasing the money, these countries have engaged in procrastinations and conspiracies for reasons best known to them. Sometimes the funds are released in trickles. For example Switzerland has kept the Abacha loot for about 20 years. It returned $723 million to Nigeria over a period of ten years whereas about N218 billion of the same Abacha loot alone (among many others) is still being kept in Swiss custody to date. This is outrageous and therefore unacceptable. Piecemeal return of stolen funds indicate reluctance to release funds belonging to poor countries.


The question MURIC is asking the ambassadors of those Western countries keeping (and using) Nigeria’s looted money is “What has our money been doing in your country for so long? Has it remained untouched? Hasn’t your country’s economy been benefitting from this blood money over the years? Where is the interest accruing to funds returned piecemeal? What do you call receivers (and users) of stolen money in your country?”


For impoverishing the very people they are supposed to serve, looters of public funds should be treated as financial terrorists. Aiding and abetting looters in any form constitute financial terrorism while Western countries who create legal bottlenecks or clogs in the wheel of repatriation of stolen funds are neo-imperialists cum sponsors of financial terrorism. It is needless to say that financial terrorism is the Mother of All Terrorism.


Western democracy and capitalism constitute threats to the developing world and Sustainable Development Goals as long as the propagators and ideologues continue to allow assets stolen from developing countries to remain in their vaults. This tortuous policy encourages global economic disparities and deepens the compartmentalization of the world into the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.  


It is hypocritical to preach transparency and good governance yet benefit from funds looted from poor countries. There can be no true globalization until socio-economic justice is entrenched at the international level. Western democracy therefore remains a fraud and a sham until countries like Britain, the United States, France, Germany and Switzerland expedite action to release funds looted from foreign countries to the affected governments.


The conditionalities for returning looted money attached by those Western countries are appalling, irritating and despicable. In particular, the conditionality imposed on Nigeria which allows the World Bank to supervise the spending of returned assets by the Nigerian government breaches international law principles and standards. Why should the World Bank supervise how we spend our money when the same bank is controlled by those who illegally confiscated the money in the first place?


This angle becomes interesting in the wake of the revelation by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo that the World Bank often dissuades leaders of the Third World from spending huge amounts of money on capital projects which are capable of improving the citizens’ standard of living.


These receivers of stolen money have no excuse for attaching such conditionality to the possible return of the money this time around particularly under the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari who has been acclaimed worldwide as prudent, transparent and highly credible. The Buhari administration has assured world leaders that recovered funds are “being channeled towards the development of critical infrastructure and the implementation of social inclusion programmes for our people”.


In conclusion, MURIC calls for concerted efforts aimed at developing an international legal framework for ensuring speedy and unconditional return of stolen funds to countries which are confirmed as owners. A short timeframe must be adopted by the United Nations (UN) for any country to keep money looted from another. The UN should treat countries which exceed the deadline for the repatriation of stolen funds as receivers of stolen money, international thieves and financial terrorists.


Such countries should be blacklisted by the World Bank while commensurate sanctions should be applied on them. Leaders of such countries who sit tight on money stolen from developing countries should be tried at the International Court of Justice at the Hague for financial terrorism and crimes against humanity.   


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


Saturday, September 10, 2016

SALAH MESSAGE: ECONOMIC RECESSION IS A TRIAL FOR BELIEVERS



11th September, 2016
SALAH MESSAGE:
ECONOMIC RECESSION IS A TRIAL FOR BELIEVERS
Nigerian Muslims will join their counterparts all over the world to mark this year’s Id al-Kabiir tomorrow Monday, 12th September, 2016.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) felicitates with the spiritual head of Muslims in the country, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA). In the same vein, we congratulate all Nigerians for witnessing the occasion.

Though painful, we are constrained to remind Nigerians that they are the architects of their own fate. The current economic downturn did not come from the blues. It is self-imposed. We encouraged graft. We sacrificed excellence on the altar of mediocrity. We grandstood where we should be frank and sincere. Due to our strange culture of waste, we buried our parents and loved ones by throwing huge sums of money into the dustbin.


We awarded chieftaincy titles to rogues and fraudsters. We celebrated international thieves who jumped bail abroad. Parents hired mercenaries to impersonate their children and write examinations for them. We certified graduates who could not compose simple correct sentences. We bastardised and incapacitated the security agencies. We took religion to the height of extremism. Now it is payback time.

Although Allah promised that mankind would have enough to eat and drink as well as shelter and clothing in this world (Qur’an 20:118-119), greed, avarice, monumental corruption and other acts of man’s inhumanity to man took the center stage in Nigeria. The Qur’an gave the parable of a country like Nigeria which was secure, peaceful and prosperous but whose citizens and leaders abused the resources. Allah therefore made them taste hunger and fear (Qur’an 16:112).  

This divine punishment notwithstanding, MURIC assures Nigerians that tough times never last but tough men do. We remind believing men and women of all faiths in the country that the current economic impasse is a form of trial. Allah promised in the Glorious Qur’an that He would try us with fear, hunger, poverty and even deaths but He assured those who patiently bear the travail of good news (Qur’an 2:155). Again Qur’an 31:17 urges man to exercise forbearance when faced with difficult times.

Interestingly, the same Qur’an went down history lane to remind us that we are not the first to be tried because many had been tried before us. It asked rhetorically, “Do you think you will not be tested just because you are believers? We have tried many before you!” (29:2-3).

If doubting Thomases fail to believe the travails of Prophet Ibraheem who was thrown in a fire, Yusuf who was thrown inside a well, Ayub who was afflicted with a strange disease, etc (peace be upon them all) are we not all living witnesses of the travails of other nations of the world who survived economic strangulation by dint of determination and attitudinal change?

In the 19th century, Denmark experienced state bankruptcy in 1813. There was recession in the United States in 1873 characterised by bank failures. Britain had its own share of recession in 1825, France in 1815. They all survived. In the 20th century the US had the Wall Street crash of 1929 followed by the Great Depression (1929-1939). Equally noteworthy are the 1998 Russia financial crisis, the Argentine economic crisis of 1999 – 2002 and the 1994 Mexico economic crisis. Most recently, the Greek government ran into a debt crisis. Russia also suffered financial crisis in 2014 while the Chinese stock market crashed in 2015.

The above examples show that nearly all countries of the world have had their tough times. But the good news is that they all overcame their woes. Nigeria too will survive. Recession is not new. It is not a death sentence. What Nigerians should not allow to happen is spiritual recession. We must strengthen our hope in Allah and adopt attitudinal change. Our resolution must be ora et labora, i.e. work and pray.

Our mosques must distance themselves from Muslim politicians who have the noun ‘thief’ while our churches must disown Christians who possess the verb ‘to steal’. Poverty knows no religion, no tribe. Those who steal public funds deprive the rest of access to what should go round. Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba and other tribes must stop empathizing with the kleptomaniacs among their kith and kin. A thief is a thief. He has no other nomenclature.  

On a final note, MURIC asserts that the change Nigerians are expecting will only come about if Nigerians have the political will. We must remember that Allah said He would not change the condition of a people until they themselves change their attitudes (Qur’an13:11).


We have offered the material sacrifice by spending money to buy sacrificial rams. That sacrifice is for Allah. But are we ready to sacrifice for our beloved country, Nigeria? We must be ready for the moral sacrifice by being patient with the government, by self-denial and by forbearance.


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

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

ENSURE FREE, FAIR AND CREDIBLE ELECTION IN EDO STATE



8th September, 2016
PRESS RELEASE:
ENSURE FREE, FAIR AND CREDIBLE ELECTION IN EDO STATE

Opposition leaders in Edo State have alleged arbitrary arrests and intimidation of their members just a few days to the gubernatorial election in the state. The request for postponement of the election made by security agencies has also become a source of worry as the opposition allege that it is another design by the ruling party to gain the upper hand.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) strongly condemns attempts to muzzle the opposition by using security agents to coerce them. It is fascist, anachronistic and unacceptable. The world has drifted far away from Gestapo tactics.

While we concede that the ruling party in the state had also suffered the same fate and even worse in the hands of the current main opposition party when the latter was in power, we affirm that vengeance is not what Nigeria needs now. To keep faith with its avowed change mantra, the ruling party must distance itself from all those filthy tricks of the past and ensure a peaceful, free, fair and credible election.

MURIC reminds the major dramatis personae that as past Nigerian leaders are invited to head international observer teams in elections held in other countries, the world is also waiting to see how Nigerians handle their own elections.

In particular, we call on the various political parties to rein in militant supporters in order to ensure a peaceful election. Thuggery and hooliganism are marks of political intolerance. Looting, arson, and killings are barbaric acts not fit to be found in civilized societies.

MURIC demands the immediate release of members of the opposition whose arrests may have been politically motivated, if any. We charge security agents to remain non-partisan, to focus on professionalism and to respect Allah-given fundamental human rights throughout the period of the election.

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