Sunday, March 30, 2014
29th March, 2014
POINT OF ORDER: CAN POKE-NOSING INTO MATTER BETWEEN PRESIDENT JONATHAN & THE MUSLIMS
The Secretary-General of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Musa Asake, accused the Sultan and the delegation of Muslims who visited President Jonathan on Wednesday 26th March, 2014 of polarizing the country along religious lines and attempting to frustrate the ongoing national conference.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) sees the need to put the records straight for those who are prepared to face facts, not sentiments. We will cite here, exempli gratia: only 4 Muslims among the 15 delegates approved for North Central (including Kwara, Niger, and Kogi); only 1 Muslim among the 15 delegates from the South-West; only 2 Muslims out of 6 retired police officers, only 1 Muslim out of 6 retired military and security personnel and, to crown the monumental edifice of marginalisation, only 6 Muslims out of 20 delegates picked by the Federal Government.
These facts are incontrovertible and the Sultan put them before President Goodluck Jonathan. The delegates are there and anybody can do the counting. So what is CAN’s problem? Instead of throwing stones or inciting his followers against the Federal Government, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, CFR, mni, in his characteristic way of dealing with matters, persuaded Muslims to be patient and told them that the matter would be looked into.
He then sought and secured audience with the presidency, led a delegation of members of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) to complain about the lopsidedness in the composition of delegates of the national confab. President Jonathan listened attentively to what the Sultan had to say and promised to look into the matter.
Now what is CAN’s business in this? NSCIA knows the way to CAN’s office. They did not go there. They went to the man at the helm of affairs who is the father of all. When one child feels that the father has not given him his due, he goes to the father for his rightful share and not to the other child who has been over-pampered. It is not for the over-pampered child to attempt to block the chance of the marginalized child otherwise he steps into the realm of selfishness. This matter is between President Jonathan and the Muslims and courtesy demands that CAN keeps off.
CAN secretary therefore overstepped his bounds and poked his nose into a matter over which he cannot pronounce judgement. This is a matter that belongs exclusively to the presidency. Instead of playing the role of an advocatus diaboli, we expect CAN secretary to provide counter data proving us wrong. It is a civilized world and we should work with facts and figures. We urge CAN secretary to do his home work. This is a shoddy response. He should stop heating up the polity.
We advise President Jonathan not to allow CAN to ride on his back in its unholy attempt to get more than it deserves, deprive the Muslims of their rightful share and usurp their Allah-given and fundamental rights. These are acts capable of disturbing the peace, law and order.
Mr. President must act in loco parentis, like a good and just father, to be fair to all, just as he has promised. We remind the president that Justice is the Soul of Peace.
Finally, MURIC believes that Nigeria will be a better place when we have a good Christian or a good Muslim as president because the fear of God or Allah will make him do the needful and satisfy all righteousness. To defeat terrorism, we must start listening to those who follow the path of dialogue, those who lodge complaints using civilized and peaceful means.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
20th March, 2014
ISLAMOPHOBIA AT NATIONAL CONFERENCE & MANIPULATION OF DELEGATES LIST: DANGEROUS SIGNPOSTS
The National Conference kicked off successfully in Abuja on Monday, 17th March, 2014. Unfortunately, it resumed the next day on a controversial note. Pastor Tunde Bakare, a South-West delegate, criticized the conference Chairman, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, for starting his speech with a prayer in Arabic.
Tunde Bakare’s attack is rather unfortunate. His criticism arose from premeditation. It is known all over the world that individual Muslims start speeches with a short Arabic phrase in which they seek Allah’s guidance in their utterances and Justice Kutigi did not do more than that. MURIC affirms clearly, unequivocally and unambiguously that the revered jurist has every right to do this.
Tunde Bakare’s outburst was therefore a manifestation of pathological hatred for Muslims and their faith. His behavior smirked of a gross lack of tolerance for the faith of others and portrays the pastor as an enforcer. Attempting to stop the chairman from using his faith to guide him is an encroachment on the latter’s Allah-given and fundamental human right.
MURIC expects Pastor Tunde Bakare to understand that a conference of this magnitude requires, first and foremost, mutual respect, understanding and tolerance of the highest order; not suspicion, rancour and ill-feeling.
Delegates need to guard their tongues and watch their language because a rancorous body language emerging from the national conference is capable of sending this country up in flames.
Tunde Bakare has stirred the hornet’s nest by firing the first salvo. His request that religion should not be brought into the national conference is unrealistic, deceitful and hypocritical. Nigerians are religious people and this should reflect in our deliberations unless we want to deceive ourselves.
The colonialists themselves bequeathed to us a controversial religious setting which must be discussed and reviewed at this conference. The status quo is chaotic. It must change. It must be done today, not tomorrow. This is the right time to address issues objectively. It is not the time for sentimentalities.
However, MURIC appeals to Muslim delegates in the conference not to pay the pastor back in his own coins. We reject the list of delegates as it stands and we advise the presidency to exhibit true patriotism, political maturity and compliance with democratic norms by reviewing the delegates list which has been massively tilted to favour Christians in the country.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is not unaware that the list of South-West delegates was deliberately drawn to marginalize Muslims who form majority of the zone’s population. We strongly suspect that such delegates are meant to serve as arrow-head in a plot to launch attacks on Muslim personalities and frustrate ideas proposed by Muslims at the conference. The same trend has been noticed in many parts of the country.
We urge the presidency to attend to the protest letter submitted by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs on this matter in order to ensure cohesion in the conduct of the ongoing national conference. We warn that the manipulation of delegates list by the presidency is a dangerous signpost.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Monday, March 17, 2014
The Deputy Controller General (Passport):
Saoka village, Airport Road,
Abuja. 17th March, 2014
PETITION AGAINST THE VIOLATION OF ALLAH-GIVEN AND FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS OF MUSLIMS IN PASSPORT OFFICES IN SOUTHERN NIGERIA:
THREAT TO PEACE, LAW & ORDER
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is an Islamic human rights organization. We believe that all human rights are first guaranteed by the Supreme Creator, Allah, before homo sapiens sought to incorporate them in man-made laws. Any infringement on the right of man is therefore a sin before Almighty Allah and a violation of the laws made by men.
For the avoidance of doubts, MURIC is a pacific organization. We are peace-loving, law-abiding and dialogue-prone. We detest violence and this is why our motto is: ‘Dialogue, Not Violence’.
As a major mechanism in our operations, we open dialogue with institutions, employers and agencies in order to intervene on behalf of aggrieved Muslims. This has often doused tension in Nigeria and reduced the incidence of violence.
We bring to your attention ugly incidents of wanton encroachment on Allah-given and fundamental rights of Muslims who apply for international passports in your offices, particularly in Southern Nigeria where Immigration officials engage in regular stereotyping of Muslims. They intimidate Muslims particularly at the point of taking pictures in the following ways:
1. Muslim males are ordered to remove their caps;
2. Imams are coerced into removing their turbans;
3. Bearded Muslims are compelled to shave or trim their beards;
4. Muslim women are made to remove their hijabs and
5. Hijab-wearing Muslim women are ordered to draw their hijab backwards to reveal their ears.
Perhaps we should inform your good office too that such stereotyping does not occur anywhere in the North. This is paradoxical since we run one and the same constitution. We are tempted to ask what the hypocrisy is about and why are Muslims free in the North but slaves in the South and why must immigration officials don garbs of apartheid?
Who are the religious fanatics discriminating against Muslims in the immigrations department? Are Muslims not entitled to international passports in Nigeria? Must a Muslim be robbed of his religious identity before he can get one?
These violations are, to say the least, provocative, illegal and unconstitutional. They are threats to peace, law and order. Refusal to allow a Muslim to dress in Islamic fashion for the purpose of collecting an international passport constitutes a breach of Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution.
Nigeria is a signatory to the African Union Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which proclaims in Article 4, Clause 1 & 2 that “Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person.”
Ditto for the provisions of Article 18 of the United Nations Charter and Articles 9 and 14 of the European Treaty of Human Rights and Articles 18 and 19 of the Treaty of Civil and Political Rights which criminalise religious profiling.
Although there have been several cases of victimization of Muslims in Immigration offices in Southern Nigeria, we hereby present, exempli gratia, just four of such petitions and complaints which reached our office recently.
In spite of his pleas and objections, citizen Adeogun Idris, a Muslim and a Nigerian who is entitled to an international passport was coerced into trimming his beard at the Immigrations office, Ikoyi, Lagos on Tuesday, 4th March, 2014. For him and for millions of Muslims across Nigeria, it was a bitter experience, a great psychological trauma and a debilitating dehumanization.
A Muslim sister who applied for passport at Ikoyi office on Wednesday 12th March, 2014 was compelled to remove her hijab. A female member of MURIC who resides in South Africa was also forced to pull back her hijab to show her ears when she applied for the renewal of her passport.
Just a few days ago, immigration officials in Ikeja, Lagos, instructed all Muslim female applicants for passports to ensure that those wearing hijab must show their ears. This is an aberration because the ears of Muslim women must remain under their hijabs.
We remind you, sir, that Nigeria has witnessed too many religious crises with its attendant heavy toll in human and material losses. Yet these conflicts are avoidable if only Nigerians can satisfy all righteousness and do the needful in their individual places of work.
We express the fear that religious crisis will not end in this country unless something is done urgently to halt the drift of the Nigerian community into another apartheid South Africa whereby Muslims replace blacks.
While reiterating that MURIC opposes violence in all its ramifications, we assert our avowed duty to use every legitimate means (including litigation and civil actions) to stop the flagrant abuse of the Allah-given and fundamental rights of Nigerian Muslims and wanton denigration of the Muslim identity.
It is our sincere hope, however, that you will use your good office to redress all wrongs and straighten all imbalances in such a way that it becomes unnecessary for us to take further action after this petition. Consequently, we will have no other choice than to express appreciation to you for being a great and patriotic Nigerian.
Sir, please find attached the petition from citizen Adeogun Idris and his pictures showing his beard before and after he was forced to trim it at immigrations office, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Professor Ishaq Akintola Alhaji Shehu Tijani
Sunday, March 16, 2014
17th March, 2014
DEATH OF IMMIGRATION APPLICANTS: COMPENSATE VICTIMS’ FAMILIES
More than ten people died in stampedes which occurred at different recruitment locations around Nigeria on Saturday, 15th March, 2014. The exercise was organized by the immigration department. Several others were also injured and are receiving treatment in various hospitals.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) consoles the families of the victims and prays that Allah will grant them the courage to bear the loss as well as the wherewithal to cushion the economic effect of the death of their young ones and bread-winners.
In particular, our hearts go to the loved ones of those pregnant women. We feel their pains and share in their frustration.
There is no gainsaying the fact that overcrowding was responsible for this calamity. The authorities obviously underestimated the unemployment monster ravaging the Nigerian society, particularly young graduates. Also partly responsible for the tragedy was the absence of crowd-control mechanisms.
Nonetheless, while we apportion blame to those directly in charge of the operation, we appreciate the fact that their intention was good, namely, to adopt utmost transparency in recruiting staff for the department of immigration.
Unfortunately good intention alone is not good enough, meticulous planning is vital to success in such an exercise. With enough foresight, this tragic incident would have been avoided.
In a world far advanced in information technology, we are surprised that the authorities chose to return Nigeria to the Stone Age by assembling thousands of easily excited young Nigerians to venues which could not contain them.
For instance, about 100,000 job-seekers were packed like sardine inside the National Stadium, Abuja whose capacity is just 65,000. The whole exercise would have gone hitch-free if applicants had been engaged online.
In view of the identified loopholes both in the planning and execution of the immigration recruitment exercise, MURIC demands the following:
1. a public apology to the families of victims and the rest of Nigerians;
2. immediate compensation for the families of the victims (at least N10 million to the family of each victim and N15 million to the families of the pregnant women who died) and
3. a repeat of the exercise to be done online as soon as possible.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Sunday, March 9, 2014
10th March, 2014
IMPROVE WELFARE OF SOLDIERS FIGHTING BOKO HARAM
Reports from the three states under emergency rule as a result of Boko Haram onslaughts indicate that the morale of soldiers in the areas is very low courtesy of poor welfare package and lack of motivation.
This logically explains the recent allegation that soldiers flee on sighting Boko Haram fighters who are better equipped and robustly motivated. It also furnishes us with acceptable casus belli for the current upsurge and perceived invincibility of Boko Haram insurgents.
Within the last two weeks alone, the hoodlums killed about 200 innocent Nigerians. These include the 53 students of Government College massacred in Yobe State; 52 people killed in the twin bomb attack in Maiduguri on Saturday 1st March, 2014; 35 people killed in Mafa on Sunday, 2nd March, 2014 and another attack on Mainok village within 24 hours which claimed 39 lives.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) asserts that these are avoidable deaths if only the Nigerian military is properly motivated and well equipped. The allegation that some of the injured soldiers pay for their treatment is sickening. Ditto for the rumoured provision of N50,000 for the family of slain soldiers. It is simply disgusting. The report of poor feeding is also enough to dampen the enthusiasm of soldiers in the area.
MURIC is alarmed that unless a drastic review of welfare conditions of soldiers fighting Boko Haram takes place very soon, the vandals may overrun Maiduguri, occupy the Government House and take the governor captive.
We therefore call for an immediate institution of a probe into the issue of welfare for Nigerian soldiers in the Boko Haram areas. This should include their feeding, allowances and health care.
The Federal Government must not make the unpardonable mistake of abandoning the North to the North. It will give extremists the chance to take over. We believe that the stability of the North is very crucial to the stability of Nigeria because when the hen perches on the rope, neither the hen nor the rope can stand firmly.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)