Monday, September 16, 2019

MURIC DEMANDS JUDICIARY REFORM


17th September, 2019


PRESS RELEASE:
MURIC DEMANDS JUDICIARY REFORM


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has complained about the prolonged delay in the dispensation of justice in Nigeria. The Islamic human rights organization therefore called on the Federal Government to expedite action on the long expected reform of the Nigerian judiciary.
The call was made in a press statement issued by the Director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Tuesday, 17th September, 2019.
The organization lamented delays in the criminal justice system which allows criminals who have confessed to still continue to maradonise law enforcement agents and judges years after their arrest.
MURIC continued, “How can a notorious kidnapper like Chukwudi Dumeme Onuamadike, popularly known as Evans still be appearing in court years after his celebrated arrest. It is sheer gymnastic procrastination. A lot of things are wrong with our judicial system. Evans was arrested on 11th June, 2017. This is September 2019. It is past two years now for crying out loud and he may still be in court for the next six years.
“This is a man who confessed to several high profile abductions, including murder. What is he still doing shuttling between courts and detention? Evans house is worth N130 million. He has two houses in Magodo, Lagos and another two duplexes in Ghana worth N15 million each. Evans’ wristwatch costs 170 thousand dollars and his net worth is estimated at N2.2 billion.
“Like Evans, the Taraba State kidnap kingpin Hamisu Bala, also known as Wadume may face trial ad infinitum if care is not taken. Wadume, whose first arrest on 6th August, 2019, caused the unfortunate death of three policemen due to an inter-agency betrayal, was rearrested on 20th August, 2019. Another big fish in the kidnapping profession, 40-year-old Bello Audu A.K.A. ‘Commander Yellow’ who was arrested on 12th September, 2019 is also expected to enjoy the luxury of prolonged hearing if the poor showing of the courts is anything to go by. This delay is nauseating.  
“The same goes for corrupt politicians where cases drag on for years. Is it not a shame that the cases of 16 former governors still linger in court since 2007? That is a whopping 12 years! To make matters worse, some of them have contested two or three times and won senate seats while their cases drag on in the courts. Equally worrisome is the fact that almost all of them claim one ailment or the other and request for treatment abroad.
“This makes a mockery of not only the judicial system but also the war against corruption. Watching these ex-governors defy the courts encourages other politicians to steal public money.
“Although MURIC does not deny that suspects and criminals have certain rights, we contend that it is counter-productive for the judicial system to dignify self-confessed criminals with prolonged and ‘executive’ cases. Delays in judgement emboldens criminals. Both criminals and corrupt politicians exploit the various loopholes in the system to their own advantage and hide behind legal technicalities thereby creating the impression of ineptitude on the part of the judiciary.


“It is also a pity that Nigeria suffers from a desertification of lawyers of conscience. The alacrity with which our lawyers jump at defending criminals constitutes a taint on the integrity of that noble profession. The speed with which they grab cases of persons of extremely low morality is quite disturbing. It is a major impediment to the elimination of criminality in the Nigerian society.


“The nonchalance of past regimes to job creation, particularly the Jonathanian ideology of ‘stealing is not corruption’ has created an economic mess which cannot be cleaned up in a hurry. Jonathan turned the institution of national honours to a jamboree for international rogues and ‘fantastically corrupt’ politicians. This is worsened by the phenomenon of religious challatanism whereby licenced thieves, acknowledged armed robbers, established kleptomaniacs and registered kidnappers are given front row seats in churches and turbaned in the mosques.


“MURIC is aware that the Buhari administration has introduced several economic measures to reduce poverty. Nonetheless, we believe that the puritanic regime of President Muhammadu Buhari can still do more to stem the tide of criminality. Fewer young people will be tempted to commit crime if government can reduce hunger in the land.  


“We will conclude this intervention on an optimistic note. If police stations can be closed during weekends in Sweden because crime has been reduced to the barest minimum; if shops can be left open in Saudi Arabia at prayer times with no one to watch for the owners, Nigeria can also become a good point of reference in crime-free environments in a not too distant future. However, the panacea lies in a well planned, focused and effective reform of the judiciary.”


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


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

PRESS RELEASE: MURIC CONGRATULATES BUHARI ON COURT VICTORY


11th September, 2019


PRESS RELEASE:
MURIC CONGRATULATES BUHARI ON COURT VICTORY


The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja today dismissed the petition filed by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the People’s Democtatic Party (PDP). The court ruled that President Muhammadu Buhari was duly elected as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during the presidential election held on 23rd February, 2019.       
The tribunal ruled that electronic transfer of results which was the crux of the opposition’s petition did not take place at any level. The court also held that President Buhari was not only qualified but eminently qualified to stand for election based on his educational records. In addition, the tribunal dismissed the allegations of electoral malpractices and that there was no evidence of partiality on the part of security agents, nor was there didespread violence on election day.


In a reaction circulated to the media immediately after the petition was dismissed, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari on his victory at the election tribunal. The reaction was circulated by Professor Ishaq Akintola, Director and Founder of the organization, on the evening of Wednesday, 11th September, 2019.

“We felicitate with President Muhammadu Buhari. It is a victory well-deserved. We dedicate this victory to the war against corruption. It is a victory for integrity, a victory for level-headedness and a triumph for democracy. We congratulate the Nigerian people for voting right. We commend the Nigerian proletariat for refusing to sell this country to the highest bidder.”


MURIC also commended the judiciary and appealed to the opposition to accept the judgement in good faith.


“But above all, we salute the Nigerian judiciary for coming out boldly and loudly to proclaim victory for conscience. We pay tribute to the temple of justice for refusing to engage in trade by batter.


“As we raise the curtain, we appeal to the opposition candidate who lost at the tribunal as well as his party to bury the hatchet and allow the Federal Government to settle down. This is not only the wisest thing to do at this stage but also in the interest of our great country, Nigeria.”  


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



Monday, September 9, 2019

MURIC COMMENDS POLICE FOR ARRESTING ORO CULPRITS


10th September, 2019
          
PRESS RELEASE:
MURIC COMMENDS POLICE FOR ARRESTING ORO CULPRITS

Ogun State Police Command has arrested nine Oro worshippers who attacked Muslims after imposing an illegal curfew. The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi identified the suspects as Dondo Sunday, Nurudeen Lawal, Idowu Desu, Monday Akinlolu, Dele Dada, Raimi Jacob, Abiola Azeez, Olarewaju Akerele and Tetede Jamiu.

It will be recalled that the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), an Islamic human rights organization had called for the arrest and prosecution of Oro worshippers in its press statement issued last week (4th September, 2019) for invading a mosque, injuring the Muslim worshippers and damaging mosque properties.
Commenting on the arrests on Tuesday, 10th September, 2019, MURIC hailed the police for arresting the culprits.
The Director of the group said, “We commend Ogun State Police Command for making these arrests. It is long overdue. Oro worshippers have for long exhibited reckless impunity. They had become the Alpha and the Omega in Ipokia. They gave adherents of other religions no peace.
“How can they be declaring curfew at will and usurping the authority of both the local and state governments? How can they be attacking and maiming people of other faiths and even destroying properties without anyone calling them to order. This arrest serves them right but it must not end there. They must be made to pay for damaged mosque properties.
“They must also appear in court. This case must not end at the police station. They have serious cases to answer: breaking and entering, premeditated damage, occasioning grievous harm and contempt of court.  Ignorance and religious bigotry are their major problems and they must be taught a lesson.  
“The way the police handles this case will determine whether or not there will be a lasting solution to the problem. Oro worshippers must be made to realize that there is a constitution in this country. In particular, the traditional ruler of the community must be told in black and white that he is not the absolute ruler in the land and that he himself must submit to the authority of the local, state and federal governments. Gone are the days when traditional rulers brandished unlimited power and feudal tyranny.
“Above all, both the traditional ruler and the Oro worshippers must submit to the supremacy of the law.  In this regard, they must obey subsisting court ruling on the modus operandi of their Oro by restricting their operations to the hours between 12 am and 4 am or risk going to jail.
“MURIC calls on police formations in the South West to borrow a leaf from their Ogun state counterparts because the imposition of illegal curfews by Oro worshippers is not restricted to Ipokia alone. It is very rampant in the sub-region. Ikorodu in Lagos State has also been the hotbed of acrobatic extremism and gymnastic criminality on the part of Oro worshippers. What the police needs to do in order to subdue Oro worshippers and their hooliganism is to manifest gallantry and professionalism.
“In our closing remarks, we commend Ogun Police Command for effecting the arrest of Oro culprits. We strongly demand their arraignment in a court of proper jurisdiction. We urge other police formations in the South West to deal with violent and recalcitrant worshippers of Oro in their domain in like manner.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,    
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)


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Sunday, September 8, 2019

MURIC SLAMS CLARK OVER MOSQUE FURORE


9th September, 2019


PRESS RELEASE:
MURIC SLAMS CLARK OVER MOSQUE FURORE IN DELTA


Christians in Kiagbodo community, the hometown of elder statesmen, Senator Edwin Clark, in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, have partly destroyed a mosque being built by an indigene, Mallam Abubakar Korokeme. The mosque was attacked overnight last Sunday.


Meanwhile, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has slammed Chief Edwin Clark for speareheading an anti-Muslim campaign in the community. The Islamic human rights organization put the lion’s share of the blame on the elder statesman. This was contained in a press statement released by the Director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Monday, 9th September, 2019.


“The buck stops at Chief Edwin Clark’s table. He is respected in the area and in the whole state and his opinion holds sway. Edwin Clark is well educated and widely exposed. He is a former senator. He is supposed to know better. How can he argue that a mosque could not be allowed in his community because it is a predominantly Christian environment? Is that what the Nigerian Constitution says? Is Clark telling us that even as an ex-senator, he does not know that there is freedom of religion?


“Senator Edwin Clark has disappointed us. There is no continent in the world that Clark has not visited. He saw mosques in Texas. He saw mosques in Toronto. He has been to Britain and the latter has different types of mosques. Yet these are Christian countries. You can see the dilemma facing Nigeria. It is the literati who are misleading ordinary folks.


“Come to think of it, Abubakar Korokeme is an indigene of the community. Yet his people will not allow him to build a mosque. The mosque is not just on the street but right inside Abubakar’s private compound. Yet elders in the community led by Chief Edwin Clark goaded Christian youths to anger against an innocent man just because he is a Muslim. We know how this game is played. The elders should stop blaming the youth. Chief Edwin Clark should take a look at the mirror. What he sees is a Muslim-hater.


“MURIC is not unaware that more than 80% of the churches in the North are built by nonindigenes. Yet Christians in Delta State will not allow a mosque being constructed by an indigene to stand. They pulled down a section of the mosque hiding under the excuse that it might be used by herdsmen as a base in the community. That excuse is most laughable, most mischievous and highly untenable.


“We call on the whole world to see how Muslims are being treated in their own country and on their own land in Delta State. Even in Rivers State, Islamophobia is the norm. We charge all world organisations to note who is manifesting religious fanaticism.


“Just last week, a whole governor supervised the demolition of Trans-Amadi Central Mosque in Port Harcourt. Then he took journalists there by himself to stage a hocus pocus of a press briefing in which he claimed no mosque ever existed at the spot. Well, Asari Dokubo’s video clip has exposed all that as sheer executive abracadabra.


“History does not forget because today was born from the wombs of yesterday. We are placing it on record that Nigerian Christians were the first to start demolishing mosques, first in Port Harcourt in Rivers State and then in Kiagbodo, Delta State.


“We have appealed to Muslims particularly in Northern Nigeria to resist the temptation to retaliate and they have listened to us. We repeat our appeal today. Leave the churches alone. Touch no Christian. Those who demolished our mosques are not true believers in the Almighty God. They are haters of their fellow men.


“We urge Governor Ifeanyi Okonwa of Delta State to give adequate protection to Muslims in the state as it is already clear that they are living in the midst of foes. The world is watching.


“We assure the minority Muslim families in Delta, Rivers and other places that we are with them in these trying moments. They should continue to uphold the integrity of Islam, to remain strong in faith, persevering and patriotic. We ask them to ponder over the words of Allah, ‘So do not lose heart. Do not fall into despair because you will triumph if indeed you are Muminuun (faithful Qur'an 3:139)’.


“By the same token, we charge the Commissioner of Police to do the needful. Muslims in the state have become endangered species. They need protection and the police must rise to the occasion. They are tax-payers too and they have Allah-given fundamental human rights which are now being trampled upon with impunity. We demand police action. Those who destroyed part of the mosque must be arrested and charged to court for trespass, wilful damage and acts capable of causing breach of the peace.


“We have a message for the American Congress. You have invited Christian leaders and clerics from Nigeria to address Congress after making false allegations about Christians being killed in our country. When will you give Muslim leaders and Imams the same opportunity to state their own side of the story. Or is that not the way fairness and equity go? Is democracy about partiality and exclusivity? Or is the American Congress allergic to the presence of Muslim clerics?


“As we rise from this session, we appeal to Muslims nationwide to exercise utmost patience. They should remain calm and law-abiding. We must not allow any form of violence to erupt because Nigeria needs peace to develop. The programmes of the present administration cannot succeed in a turbulent atmosphere. Those who are engineering hatred for Muslims and fanning the embers of religious war wish to see Nigeria go up in flames. They are waiting to see Muslims retaliate so they can launch another bloodletting crusade. We must disappoint them.”


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


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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

ARREST, PROSECUTE ORO CULT LEADERS NOW


4th September, 2019


PRESS RELEASE:
ARREST, PROSECUTE ORO CULT LEADERS NOW


An illegal round-the-clock curfew has been imposed on Idiroko, Agosasa, Ilase, Ajegunle and some other communities in Ipokia Local Government of Ogun State since yesterday, Tuesday, September 3, 2019 by Oro cultists. The curfew has paralysed commercial activities in the whole area as shops and markets are under lock and key. Women and strangers are not allowed to move about and schools are already affected.     


This was disclosed in a press statement issued by the Director of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Wednesday, 4th September, 2019.

According to Akintola, the Oro worshippers who signed an agreement with Christians and Muslims at a religious stakeholders’ meeting held at the Conference Room of Ipokia Local Government Secretariat on 21st August 2019 have reneged on their promise barely one week later.


He continued, “The meeting was presided over by the Head of Local Government Administration (HOLGA) in Ipokia, Engr Babatunde Odunlami. Representatives of Christians and Muslims were in attendance. Security agents were also there. They all signed an agreement restricting the celebration of Oro festival to midnight from 12 am to 4 am. The signed document also indicated that there should be no restriction of any form to non-members of Oro cult within the period.”


MURIC provided more insight into the agreement.


“It was agreed that Christians and Muslims must conduct their services inside churches and mosques respectively. Outside procession with loudspeakers are also forbidden during Oro festivals while no religious group should, in their preaching or songs, call traditional worshippers derogatory names and no one should infringe on the fundamental human rights of citizens as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. In addition, any religious group that intends to organise a festival must inform the local government, police and other security agencies in writing beforehand.
“The agreement was signed on behalf of Muslims by the Imam of Idi Iroko, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris and two others: Faruq Tiamiyu and Yahya Ajibola. Christians were represented by Joseph Arogunyo, John Jayeola and Adesina Sunday while Ojo Alade, Gafar Waidi and Suuru Adeyemi signed on behalf of Oro worshippers.
"The DPO of Idiroko police station, CSP Opebiyi Sunday signed as a witness while the DPO of Ipokia was represented by CSP Oluku Sunday. Also, the Department of State Services (DSS) was represented by B. E. Bassey, while the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) was represented by DRC Garba Dare.

MURIC lamented the failure of leaders of Oro cult to abide by the agreement.  


“It is highly regrettable that these people failed to abide by the agreement they signed under the full glare of security agents. We are grossly disappointed.”


The group called on security agents to arrest Oro cult leaders and prosecute them.


“We call on the security agents to do the needful. Oro cult leaders must be arrested, detained and prosecuted for declaring this curfew. They have usurped the powers of the state governor and the chairman of the local government who are the only authorities conferred with the power to impose curfews. Their action is illegal, illegitimate, unlawful and unconstitutional.


“Besides, the illegal declaration of curfew on the area is an indubitable contravention of Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which says inter alia, ‘Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria…’


“Security agents have a duty to uphold the rule of law. The action of Oro cultists is capable of causing a breech of the peace because they have infringed upon the freedom of movement of Ipokia citizens. Oro cult leaders must therefore be held accountable. It is also important to note that this curfew was declared in contempt of court because there is a subsisting court ruling on this by an Ipokia High Court made earlier this year.


“As we wind up, we charge the Ogun State Police Command and the Ogun State chapter of the Department of State Security Services (DSS) to spring to action. Nigerians will hold security agents responsible if there is any breakdown of law and order in Ogun State over the illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional declaration of curfew by Oro cultists. Security agents must summon the will to nip this threat to peace in the bud. Oro cultists must no longer be allowed to arrogate executive power to themselves anywhere in the South West. Enough is enough.  


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



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Monday, September 2, 2019

HIJRAH HOLIDAY: MURIC PETITIONS NASS

3rd September, 2019


PRESS RELEASE:
HIJRAH HOLIDAY: MURIC PETITIONS NASS


Muslims all over the world yesterday celebrated Hijrah Day as the new Islamic year kicked off on Monday 2nd September, 2019 corresponding to 1st Muharram, 1441.    


However, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) had a grouse with the Federal Government of Nigeria (FG) over the non-declaration of the day as a public holiday. MURIC, an Islamic human rights organization, therefore decided to take its case to the 9th National Assembly (NASS).


The group accused FG of being unfair to Nigerian Muslims in the manner it shares out its public holidays. According to MURIC, 1st Muharram is the Islamic version of 1st January. The former therefore deserves recognition like the latter if indeed Nigeria is not a Christian state.


MURIC argued, “What is good for the goose is good for the gander. It is unfair of FG to recognize 1st January for Christians while closing its eyes to 1st Muharram. It is one of the ways by which government has marginalized Nigerian Muslims. This must stop. A government which seeks peaceful coexistence should practice parity, justice and fairness.


“We complained last year by issuing a statement on 6th September, 2018 entitled ‘Declare Hijray Day Next Week’. That was one week to 1st Muharram 1440. Yet nothing happened. In actual fact, our statement of 6th September, 2018 was a followup to our press release of 3rd January, 2018 on the same matter.


“We have been making this particular demand on a yearly basis for more than fifteen (15) years but FG continues to ignore our demand. It must be emphasized that Islamic organizations (not MURIC alone) have been making this demand through petitions and appeals dating back to the 60s but successive administrations have turned the deaf ear to their pleas.  


“What kind of language does government want aggrieved Muslims to adopt before getting attention? What is FG goading us into? Several options are on the table: rallies, demonstrations, sit-ins, boycotts, legal action, etc. The only option we will never pick is violence because the motto of MURIC is ‘Dialogue, No Violence’.


“But even the other options have their disadvantages. For instance, rallies and demonstrations can be hijacked by hoodlums to cause mayhem thereby tarnishing the image of the organisers. They also have the tendency of hurting innocent people. This is why we always hesitate to organize rallies and demonstrations. They should be the last options.


“In view of the nonchalant attitude of successive governments at the center for more than two decades, nay, since indepence, we are constrained to appeal to the National Assembly (NASS) to take up this issue as a matter of urgent public interest. Nigerian lawmakers should not wait until reckless and violent groups hijack this agitation.


MURIC gave the rationale for the demand for the declaration of 1st Muharram as a public holiday.


“The Islamic hijrah calendar is divine (Qur’an 9:36; 2:189; 10:5 and 17:12). We demand parity. If it is true that Nigeria is not for any particular religion; if it is also true that FG has been declaring 1st January of every year which is the 1st day of the Christian year as holiday for decades; then FG as the father of all must recognize 1st Muharram as the first day of the Islamic year.


“A good and responsible father must treat his children equally. As it stands today, the holidays are tilted in favour of Christians. Muslims are marginalized. MURIC rejects this lopsided arrangement. It cannot forge unity. Neither can it guarrantee peace. It is only equal rights and justice that can ensure lasting peace and stability.


The group also gave a breakdown of Nigeria’s holidays.

“The total number of holidays enjoyed in Nigeria are eight (8): Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Id al-Kabir, Id al-Fitr and Maulud an-Nabiyy. Five (5) of them belong to Christians (Christmas Day, Boxing Day, 1st January, Good Friday and Easter Monday).



“Muslims have three only out of eight, viz, Id al-Kabir, Id al-Fitr and Maulud an-Nabiyy. Five to three is a wide margin in a multi religious social contract. FG must work towards closing that gap in the interest of peace and harmony. Therefore, FG should give the Muslims 1st Muharram.This will bring the number of holidays to be enjoyed by Muslims to four while Christians still continue to enjoy five. Is this too much to ask? 




“Permit us to repeat what we said around this time last year on the same issue. ‘There is no gainsaying that the perpetual denial, deprivation, marginalization and stigmatization being suffered by Muslims have led to uprisings at one time or another. It may not be out of place to add that the ongoing insurgency in the North East is not unconnected with the pains being suffered by Muslims around the country. 




“Therefore, the 9th NASS will be aiding deradicalisation if it steps into this matter and passes a bill to declare every 1st Muharram a national holiday. Our message to distinguished senators and honourable members of the NASS is this: whether you are a Christian or a Muslim, posterity will remember you for your stand on this matter. Is it fair for one group to enjoy five holidays while another has only three? Is that what you call justice and equity?




“We remind Nigerian lawmakers that the declaration of every first day of the Islamic year as a holiday can be one of the steps that Nigeria should take towards deradicalisation. It will send a strong message to Boko Haram that FG is addressing some of the grudges mentioned by Muslims. It may eventually lead to the surrender of large number of insurgents. It can also be used by liberal Muslims like us to soften the hearts of elements of the extreme left. This is how nations seeking genuine integration win wars and not ordinary battles.

“MURIC hails state governors who have recognized 1st Muharram and declared them as public holidays. In particular, we pay tribute to the former governors Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (Osun, now Minister of Internal Affairs) and Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo) for their pivotal roles in this regard. Posterity will certainly engrave their names in letters of gold.


On a last note, we appeal to the NASS to take a dispassionate look at the demand of Muslims for the recognition of the first day of the Islamic calendar just as the first day of the Christian calendar is given recognition. This is a just and equitable demand. We assert clearly, emphatically and categorically that Nigerian Muslims remain oppressed until Hijrah Day is declared a national public holiday.  



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

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

MOSQUE DEMOLITION: WIKE IS A LIAR


28th August, 2019
          
PRESS RELEASE:
MOSQUE DEMOLITION: WIKE IS A LIAR

The governor of Rivers State, Nyesome Wike, has claimed that no mosque was demolished in Port Harcourt. This claim is coming in the wake of the allegation by Muslim leaders in Port Harcourt that the governor had sent bulldozers aided by thugs and mobile policemen to pull down the Trans-Amadi Central Mosque on Tuesday 20th August, 2019.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), an Islamic human rights organisation which condemned the demolition exercise has reacted to Wike’s denial. The group revealed its reaction to pressmen in a statement issued by its Director on Wednesday, 28th August, 2019.

The group said, “Wike is a pathological liar. He denied pulling down Trans-Amadi mosque. That is a lie from the pit of Jahannam. So what happened to Trans-Amadi mosque? Was it knocked down by invading elephants? Was there a cyclone in Port Harcourt? Wike can say that to the marines. Nigerians have seen a manifestation of the five evils Chamberlain spoke about in Rivers State: brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution.

“Wike should have known the implications of his outbursts. Just two months ago (June 2019), he said, ‘Rivers State is a Christian state and I have no apologies for saying that.’ A cleric from the South West who was in the gathering commended him for making such a declaration. Any reasonable person will tie the two incidents together. We are constrained to congratulate Wike for walking his talk. It was like, ‘I told you people that this state is a Christian state and you are still building a new mosque. Boys! Go and pull it down!’

“His latest words, ‘I did not demolish any mosque’ are therefore coming too late. They are afterthoughts and sheer play on semantics. He admitted pulling down ‘an illegal structure’. But how can a building whose plan was approved by the state government before you came into office become illegal? For the avoidance of doubt, the survey plan number of the building is AI/RV2009/D13 and the building plan number is RTP/09/617. Both were approved by the state government since 2009.

“As far as Nigerians are concerned, those two documents are vital and a mosque is a mosque, whether it is a completed structure, half or quarter completed. Muslims congregate there and worship. There are uncompleted mosques all over Nigeria where Muslims worship daily. The case of Trans-Amadi Mosque cannot be isolated.

“Mosques take years to finish in Nigeria these days for several reasons but it is common to see Muslims using them even as they are under construction. Funds come in trickles because mosques collect no tithes and foreign aid has been strangulated by United States embargo on aid from Arab countries whereas foreign aid continues to flow into churches, mostly from the same US.

“Just yesterday, a church leader boasted that it planted 65,000 churches in six months. He has our best wishes but no state governor has the right to demolish our mosques no matter how poor they may appear. We cherish the devotion of Muslim worshippers and the serenity of our poor mosques more than any outward embellishment. Didn’t the Bible say ‘God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth? (John 4:24)

“Your Excellency, pictures do not lie. Neither do video clips, unless they are doctored. We watched three video clips where you declared that Rivers State is a Christian state. Can you deny that? We raw the rubble where there used to be a mosque structure. But you are now denying that you demolished a mosque. Who does not understand semantics?

“Oh, we can see clearly. It became illegal because it is a mosque and it must go down because no new mosque must emerge after the ‘almighty’ governor has declared the state as a Christian state. A la l’etat c’est moi, n’est c’est pas? It had better not be. Even Louis XIV to whom that infamous declaration is attributed regretted his feudal absolutism on his deathbed when he said, ‘Je m’en vais, mais l’Etat demeurera toujours’, i.e. ‘I depart, but the State shall always remain’.

“We remind Governor Wike that there are rules of engagement in every decent society and he must respect those rules. Wike is governor today but like the French king, Louis, he must go one day. Wike’s declaration of the state as a Christian state stands in contradistinction to Section 10 of the Nigerian Constitution. It is therefore unconstitutional and his demolition of the mosque is ultra vires.

“Wike is definitely not the only Christian governor in a Christian-dominated state. Ten other states in the sub-region have very large Christian population: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, and Imo. But Wike is the only one who declared his state a Christian state. Wike wants to be more Christian than Jesus. What of the other governors? Are they not Christians as well? Who did this to Rivers State?

“The executive governor of Rivers State is now running from pillar to post in order to cover his tracks. But it is too late. Words are like eggs, they break into fragments once they are allowed to drop. Again, we must note that he repeated those words on three different occasions and in the presence of journalists.  Once is happenstance, twice is a coincidence. The third time is enemy action. True to his words, Wike took a wicked decision, viz, to pull down the house of God.

“It is now clear to all and sundry that Wike does not look before he leaps. He acts on impulse. He should have known the implication of pulling down a mosque two months after declaring his state a Christian state. That is the question. That is the crux of the problem. They say action speaks louder than voice. This demolition is even worse than Wike’s unconstitutional declaration. We have no scintilla of doubt that Wike’s wicked action is a followup to his declaration.

“Our message to Governor Wike is this: Your Excellency sir, verily indeed we say unto you, you have bulldozers, we have Allah. You may bring down our mosque. You cannot remove iman (faith) and piety (taqwah) from our hearts. Islam is in our lives and a million bulldozers cannot extirpate it.

“To deceive Nigerians after demolishing a mosque, Wike argued that there were other mosques still standing in Port Harcourt. We reject Wike’s warped thinking. Those mosques he refered to were built before he came to power. They were built during the reign of governors who were not boastful, arrogant, belligerent and power drunk.

“It will be in Wike’s best interest to invite the management of Trans-Amadi Mosque which he pulled down wilfully, consciously and deliberately. That action is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional in view of a court declaration that the property belongs to the Muslims.

“Wike is advised to undo what he has done by engaging the management of that mosque in dialogue. Wike must refund the total cost of what he caused to demolish and allow construction work to resume at the site. Only this can douse the tension generated by Wike’s wicked act. In addition, the Roi Soleil of Rivers State is advised to, in his remaining days in office, engage in tactical withdrawal of his inflammatory, unguarded and unconstitutional statement about his state being a Christian state.

“Meanwhile, we implore Nigerian Muslims to remain calm and law abiding. There should be no tit for tat. Not all Christian governors are like the governor of Rivers State and definitely not all Christians are as bellicose, militant, boastful, arrogant and mischievious as Nyesome.

“Wike’s wickedness may surpass that of Herod but thousands of Nigerian Christians are kind-hearted, warm and friendly. We therefore advise against any revenge action by any Muslim governor against any church building. Neither should any Muslim individual or group attack any individual Christian or group of Christians in any part of the country.

“We invite Nigerians to love one another regardless of religion and ethnicity. We urge peace-loving Christians to ignore the divisive, autocratic and self-righteous antics of Wike. This man cannot be the ambassador of Nigerian Christians. We need peace to build a prosperous Nigeria. We are therefore willing to live in peace with our Christian neighbours.

“In summary, we assert that Wike is a pathological liar for denying his role in the demolition of Trans-Amadi Mosque in PortHarcourt. We demand adequate compensation for the destroyed mosque and the right to resume construction at the site with immediate effect. Finally, we extend our hand of fellowship to peace-loving and law-abiding Christians throughout Nigeria.”

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


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