Thursday, October 23, 2014

TEXT OF PRESS CONFERENCE OF THE JOINT MUSLIM FORUM



TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE JOINT MUSLIM FORUM (JMF) ON THE RULING ON HIJAB AND THE DEMAND OF LAGOS CHRISTIANS FOR A CHRISTIAN GOVERNOR
HELD AT THE RAHMAT ISLAMIYAH HALL, IKEJA, ON THURSDAY, 23RD OCTOBER, 2014

Distinguished guests, leaders of Islamic organisations present, Brothers and Sisters in Islam, Gentlemen of the press, As-Salaam Alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu. I welcome you to this press briefing on behalf of the Joint Muslim Forum (JMF). JMF is a Muslim, non-governmental and non-profit organization with no political affiliations but serves as a platform for several well-meaning and progressive Muslim Organizations in Lagos State.
You are all aware of the agitation of Muslims in the South-West for their female children to be allowed to use hijab in public schools. This is a yearning propelled by religious obligation as the Qur’an commands all female Muslims to use hijab.

As part of the background, we must also remind you of the inhuman treatments meted out to female Muslim students by Christian teachers over the hijab saga. On February 5, 2013, an 11 year-old student, Aisha Alabi of Kadara Junior High School, Ebute Metta, was given 43 lashes of the cane on the school’s assembly ground for not removing her hijab after an Islamic Religious Knowledge class where the veil is allowed. It is our contention that 43 lashes for an 11 year-old is the height of inhumanity.

Another student, Bareerah Tajudeen of Mafoluku Senior Grammar School, Oshodi, on February 20, last year, had her hijab removed and trampled on by the school principal, Mrs. Elizabeth Omidele. This act of religious apartheid occurred outside the school premises, not within the school compound.

These are just two of several cases of religious persecution which Christian teachers unleash on female Muslim students in Lagos State. To add salt to injury, The Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, in a press conference addressed on Tuesday, 14th May, 2013 placed a ban on the use of hijab and head scarf by female Muslim pupils in public schools in Lagos State. She stated that Muslims who want their children to use hijab should take their children to Muslim private schools. This was a highly provocative pronouncement.

Instead of taking the law into their hands, the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) took the matter to court seeking to vacate the ban placed on hijab by the state government.

Justice Modupe Onyeabor, in a suit filed against the government,  by the MSSN,  Lagos State Area Unit, through their lawyer, Chief Gani Adetola-Kazeem (SAN), held that the ban was not discriminatory. The judge held that Nigeria’s ‘secular’ nature as provided by Section 10 of the Constitution must be preserved by the government.

With this pronouncements, Justice Onyeabor has simply demonstrated to all and sundry that the tragedy of the Nigerian judiciary lies in the runaway nature of justice in Nigeria. This is a travesty of justice. This judge has ruled against natural law. Nigeria is not a secular state but a multi-religious one and no section of the constitution declares Nigeria as a secular state. In fact the word ‘secular’ is not in our constitution.

How can our case be dismissed when there are precedents? It is on record that the High Court of Lagos State relied on sections 38 and 42 of the Constitution in Suit No ID/424M/2004 – Fatimoh Abidemi Rasak & 3Ors Vs Commissioner for Health, Lagos State & 2Ors to shoot down and declare unconstitutional a circular issued by the Lagos State School of Health Technology banning the students from wearing hijab.
Again in the Court of Appeal in Ilorin in the case of "The Provost, Kwara State College of Education, Ilorin Vs Bashirat Saliu in suit number CA/IL/49/2009 ruled that "the use of veil by female Muslims qualifies as a fundamental right under section 38 of the constitution".

The ruling on the MSSN Hijab case is therefore illogical, inexplicable and a total miscarriage of justice. The learned judge erred by averring that hijab creates a sense of inferiority in those who do not use it. It is laughable. How can the hijab used by a Muslim student give others inferiority complex? Should those who want hijab therefore remain perpetually under oppression and lack of religious freedom?

JMF has posers for the Lagos State Government (LASG) on the hijab affair. Why is it that on one hand the state claims to promote girl-child education and on the other hand openly discriminates against female Muslim students whose crime is the wearing of hijab to school? Is LASG aware that even in UK, US and other Western countries (except France) where Muslims are in the minority, the female Muslim students in public schools are allowed to wear hijab?
Is LASG aware that Ekiti State by circular No. EK/SSG/01/375 of 12th December, 2013 has permitted female Muslim pupils in public schools to use hijab? Governor Kayode Fayemi is a Christian and Muslims constitute only about 40% of the state’s population. Lagos has a Muslim governor. Lagos has a preponderant Muslim population and Muslims in the state have been asking Lagos government to approve hijab for female Muslim children for years. This is the paradox called LASG! Or is Ekiti part of Saudi Arabia?

LASG must explain to Nigerians why hijab is acceptable on school uniforms in the whole of Northern Nigeria, Ekiti, Oyo and Osun states but it is an anathema in Lagos. How many constitutions do we operate in Nigeria? Lagos has simply become the epicentre of religious stigmatisation against Muslims. One must ask for how long will the fragile peace last? Lagos may be sitting on a keg of gunpowder.

Hijab is a religious duty for Muslim women and failure to use it is a sin against Allah. Any employer who stigmatizes or victimizes a Muslim woman on account of her wearing hijab has also violated her Allah-given fundamental human right.

Victimization of a Muslim woman for using hijab constitutes a breach of Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. The African Union Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights 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.” Nigeria is a signatory to this charter.
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 also criminalise religious profiling.

What the Muslims are demanding in the issue of hijab is their Allah-given fundamental human right. They are not asking anyone to put hijab on Christian pupils. They want to dress the way the Qur’an commands them. Freedom of religion is one of the civil liberties enjoyed in a civilized society. Lagos should not deny this religious right. Hijab is used on school uniform in Britain and Ireland. Female Muslim police use hijab on their uniform. That is true liberalism and advanced democracy.
It is stigma for anyone to hate the sight of Muslims or to claim that the sight of Muslim pupils in hijab is capable of causing religious crisis. The fact of the matter is that the current uniform used in schools is Christian uniform imposed on Nigerians by Christian colonial masters. It suits Christian culture and that is why Christians are not complaining. But it constitutes a violent assault on the psyche of true and practicing Muslims. That is why Muslims are complaining. But will LASG want to be seen as imposing Christian culture on Muslims and denying the latter of their well-deserved dividend of democracy?
We are aware of secret agreements between Christian leaders and certain foreign powers. They have pledged to enforce Christian culture on Muslim children through education. They also vowed never to allow any Islamic landmark in the Nigerian society but to vigorously sustain Christian values and to force same on Muslim children so that Islam may eventually be eliminated in Nigeria.

JMF seeks to know the true democrats. Where does LASG stand? On the side of religious freedom or on the side of the oppressors? It is unfortunate that by its actions and utterances, LASG has not only willingly become a tool in the hands of the villains, but it has become an active participant in the brutal assault on the liberty of Muslims in Lagos State.

We call the attention of the judiciary and indeed other stakeholders to the fact that so many states in Nigeria allow the use of Hijab in public schools and this has not been known or reported to destroy uniformity sought by government in the issuance of dress code. We wonder how Lagos State’s case is different.
We call on the state government to voluntarily ignore the judgement and uphold the right of female Muslim students by issuing directive to school heads and principals to allow use of hijab to students who subscribe to its use. In this way the government would have shown that it is father to all and does not alienate any section of the community. This step does not in any way offend the so-called Nigeria’s secular nature as provided for in Section 10 of the Constitution.
We hasten to remind the government that the judgement if implemented is capable of creating avoidable tension and crisis and thereby destroy the peaceful co-existence and religious tolerance which the state currently enjoys. We are not in doubt whatsoever that some overzealous teachers, school heads and principals will take full advantage of the judgement to taunt and victimise female Muslim students as witnessed in the recent past.
SLOGAN FOR LAGOS 2015: ‘NO HIJAB, NO VOTE’:
Having been pushed to the wall, the Muslims of Lagos State have no alternative than to use what they have to get what they want. Election fever has gripped politicians as we draw near February 2015. We have resolved to give our votes to any candidate from any political party who is ready to grant us religious freedom. We will vote for those who will approve the use of hijab in schools no matter what their political affiliation. This suffering is too much. LASG treats Muslims with disdain. Enough is enough. Our slogan for LAGOS 2015 is therefore: NO HIJAB, NO VOTE!

THE CALL FOR A CHRISTIAN GOVERNOR IN LAGOS:
It is no longer news that a selfish and misguided section of our Christian brothers have called for a Christian Governor in Lagos State come 2015. The overwhelming majority of Lagosians and well meaning citizens have rejected this divisive and parochial call noting that it is an undemocratic and disgraceful desperation for power which raises questions about the motive behind such call.
We at JMF reiterate our total rejection of such campaign and call on Lagosians to reject any candidate that emerges (from any of the political parties) on account of subterranean or disguised religious sponsorship. We enjoin Lagosians once again not to allow mediocrity and religious sentiment to becloud their sense of reasoning in the choice of the candidate they will elect to govern the state.
What should be uppermost in the mind of all is the development of the state and the welfare and security of all Lagosians.  Merit and demonstrated capacity to govern must be the criteria to determine the next governor of the state. Lagos is a peaceful state with religious harmony. Lagosians should be weary and distant themselves from selfish pseudo politicians (in religious guise) who want to create hatred and disaffection among them through religious sentiment. We condemn this backward and retrogressive approach to political power and call on the people to be vigilant.
We also want to alert Lagosians that in spite of this condemnation by well meaning citizens of Lagos State, the proponents of a Christian Governor did not desist. They appear bent on creating religious crisis and disharmony in the state. They have carried their campaign to the major political parties and have “anointed” candidates for the parties. We call on all party supporters and Lagosians in general to be vigilant. We ask them to reject any candidate foisted on them on the basis of religious sentiment irrespective of political party platform.
We also alert unsuspecting Lagosians that the antics of these self seeking religious bigots and individuals are not limited to the political parties and religious platforms but include traditional rulers’ platform, the social media, bogus skill acquisition, employment /empowerment deceit, financial inducement otherwise known as stomach infrastructure, “free” medical check up and treatment, and all kinds of tactics. Beware and be warned.
It is also very sad and unfortunate that some of our Muslim brothers and we dare say sisters have fallen prey to these antics and have started to position themselves to take advantage of this retrogressive idea.
Let it be put on record that Lagos State Muslims did not at any time nor in any forum accept the call for a Christian Governor not to talk of endorsing or adopting any Muslim Candidate as Deputy Governor. We, the Muslims of Lagos State dissociate ourselves completely from this embarrassing, misleading and deceptive quest for “political power” through the back door.
We remain committed to democratic norms and principles in the election of governor for Lagos State. Our stand is that candidates should emerge on the basis of merit and demonstrated capacity and capability to move Lagos State forward and consolidate on the existing level of development.  We are for the steady development, security, peace and welfare of Lagosians irrespective of the religious affiliation of governorship election candidates. We will educate our people and all Lagosians and pitch our tent behind any candidate from any party or from any religion who emerges to contest governorship election in the State on the basis of merit and not because he or she was anointed or sponsored on religious affinity or God-fatherism.
As a matter of fact we Muslims in Lagos State are the ones who truly deserve to call for a True Muslim Governor. It is on record that the so-called Muslim Governors that have governed the state since 1999 have never supported any Muslim cause. On the contrary, Muslims have suffered discrimination both in terms of actions and policies of the state. There is no single policy of the state that has favoured the Muslims or put Muslims in any advantage beyond other non-Muslims. The list of such anti-Islam policies and actions are endless with the education of our children being the most adversely affected.
As we speak today, none of the six Tutors General in the state is a Muslim despite the gentleman agreement to balance such appointments at the commencement of the policy. Same is true of most other appointments in spite of the fact that qualified and deserving Muslims are available in large numbers.  Furthermore and in spite of international best practices which allows the use of hijab, female Muslims in the state are asked to remove their hijab in ‘documentation’ offices where their pictures are required. Failure to do so could jeopardise their access to statutory rights.
We use the opportunity of this press conference to call on Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN and his government to promote religious harmony in the state and reverse the discriminatory policies of his government against the Muslims who have given him and his administration support and demonstrated goodwill for peaceful co-existence even in the face of blatant provocations. Specifically, we call on him to follow or even go beyond the example of Ekiti State by enacting laws which forbid all forms of discriminations against Muslims in the cause of upholding the tenets and practises of their religion. 
Hijab must be allowed in schools and workplaces including hospitals. Morning assembly prayers in schools must be standardised and not left to the whims and caprices of the Head Teacher or Principal. Arabic and Islamic Religious Knowledge teachers must be employed to teach the subjects in schools. Muslim Science students should not be prevented from taking Islamic Studies. Hijirah holiday must be declared just like Osun State. Coroner law must be amended to allow Muslims to claim their corpses for burial without delay. Cremation of corpses must stop.
Shariah division must be created in the judiciary for Muslims who wish to opt for Shariah legal system. Political appointments and promotions should be fair and balanced, state sponsored decoration of streets and highways in preparation for Christmas including Countdown to the Gregorian New Year Day must either stop or extended to Muslim festivals as well, and Friday must be declared as HALF WORK and HALF SCHOOL day to enable Muslims attend Jumat service with their family. In short we call on the government to establish parity.
We also restate that the JMF is non- political, and not for profit organisation. We are not terrorists. We are not arsonists. We promote peace. We abhor violence. We despise terrorism and aggression. Our methodology is Dialogue and Prayer. Our permanent INTEREST is freedom of worship and justice for all. 
For the avoidance of doubt, our purpose here today is not to reiterate the marginalisation and discrimination against Muslims in the state per se, but to call on all and sundry to dissociate themselves and reject any governorship candidate that may emerge from any of the political parties on the basis of religion or anointed sponsorship. Let candidates put themselves forward and freely canvass for support without any form of religious interference.   
I thank you for honouring our invitation. Allah Bless You All.

NOTE:
The text of the press conference was signed by about 28 Islamic organisations including The Companion, Movement for Islamic Cultural Awareness (MICA), Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO), The Criterion, Muslim Welfare Fund (MUWELF), etc. The text was read at the event by Alhaji Wale Sonaike, Acting Chairman of JMF.
The occasion was well attended and the venue, Rahmatu Islamiyyah Hall, was filled beyond capacity as many people stood outside.  





Monday, October 20, 2014

INVITATION TO PRESS CONFERENCE ON LAGOS HIJAB RULING


The Joint Muslim Forum (JMF) invites Muslim brothers & sisters to a press conference on Hijab Judgement on Thursday, 23/10/14  by 11 am. Venue: Rahmat Islamiyyah Hall, 3,Muslim Avenue, off Unity Rd, off Toyin Str, Ikeja,Lagos.

We must all attend this press conference to prove that we really want hijab. Spread the message. Re-BC to all contacts.

Friday, October 17, 2014

CEASEFIRE BETWEEN FG & BOKO HARAM: A LAUNCHING PAD FOR PEACE


17th October, 2014
PRESS RELEASE:
CEASEFIRE BETWEEN FG & BOKO HARAM:
A LAUNCHING PAD FOR PEACE


The Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff, General Alex Badeh today confirmed reports that the Federal Government (FG) and Boko Haram insurgents have signed a ceasefire agreement. Consequently, he has directed all field officers in the troubled areas to comply immediately.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) warmly welcomes this development. Boko Haram insurgency has cost Nigeria most dearly. Over 3,000 lives have been lost while properties worth billions of naira have been destroyed. The country’s image has also suffered worldwide while individual Nigerian citizens in diaspora have paid one price or the other.

MURIC congratulates the FG for achieving this historical feat. We affirm that no price is too high to bring peace to the North East and consequently to the entire country. We therefore urge the Nigerian authorities to build on this achievement by going beyond a ceasefire.

In particular, FG must push for the release of the Chibok girls from captivity. This will definitely put smiles on the lips of the suffering parents once again. The release of the Chibok girls should be followed by serious dialogue with Boko Haram aimed at discontinuing the orgy of violence in the North East.

In view of the fact that the casus belli of the insurgence has been traced to ignorance, idleness and joblessness, the next task should be to develop impoverished areas where extremism takes root and to extend the tentacles of education to all nooks and cranies of the North East. Thereafter, the youths of the sub-region must be engaged by giving them economic opportunities. It must be a total overhaul necessitating the creation of a North East development board as well as a ministry of North Eastern Nigeria.

MURIC charges the Federal Government to rigorously pursue these objectives knowing very well that it is always better to build peace because no matter how expensive the exercise, war is far more expensive, more painful, more destructive.

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

FG’S WARNING TO SOUTH AFRICA IS BLACKMAIL



8th October, 2014
PRESS RELEASE:
FG’S WARNING TO SOUTH AFRICA IS BLACKMAIL

The Federal Government (FG) has warned South Africa about its business investments in Nigeria like MTN and DSTV. It reminded South Africa how it has hitherto provided a conducive business atmosphere for it to operate unhindered.

The warning came as a fallout of the diplomatic row between the two countries over the seizure of large amounts of money sent by the Nigerian government purportedly for the purchase of arms to fight insurgency. It will be recalled that the sum of $9.3 million was seized by the South African government about three weeks ago while another $5.7 million was again seized two days ago.  

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) regards FG’s warning to South Africa as subtle blackmail. So FG can fight South African companies now? Where were you when MTN was milking us dry? Where were you when poor workers were being forced to buy sim cards at the rate of N33,000 each? Are you aware that the same sim cards now sell for N50 only today and sometimes given out free?

We know the meaning of providing “a beneficial environment for South African companies like MTN, DSTV and a host of others to do business unhindered”. Our government looked the other way as MTN exploited the Nigerian jamaheer (masses). As a digression we may ask FG if it is true that top Nigerian officials and members of the National Assembly use toll-free MTN sim cards. Does Aso Rock recharge its MTN sims? Our leaders allow service providers to skin us to a pulp just because the leaders enjoy toll-free calls 2-4-7! Nigerians are victims of divide et impera.

Yet we cannot blame South African companies which did legitimate business in Nigeria unlike our own government which seeks to conduct illegal and clumsy transactions in a foreign land, a land where executive impunity is taboo, a land where there are no sacred cows, a land that respects due process and the rule of law. Now the wind has blown and we have seen the ruff of the hen. FG should stop leading Nigerians by the nose.

Can FG really fight South Africa over this scandal? For instance, can FG ask Nigerians to boycott South African products? Will Nigerians support their government in this fight? The reality is that FG needs its citizens to fight South Africa. This is not likely with the current disconnect between the Nigerian rulers and the citizenry.

For FG therefore, asking Nigerians to boycott South African products is not even a viable option. FG has lost the moral right to do that. There is hunger in the land. Thousands are homeless and hopeless. Our graduates are jobless and all FG can do is to ask them to drop their MTN sim cards and their beloved DSTV. We advise FG not to step on the cobra’s tail.


MURIC reminds FG that leaders command respect through refined and dignifying behavior and taking the tax-payer’s money out through the backdoor has already deleted the words ‘dignity’ and ‘integrity’ from FG’s vocabulary. Patriotism cannot be pushed down people’s throats, it flows naturally down the funnel of good leadership.

Nigerians will be proud of their country when kleptomania in government circles becomes an alien culture; when there is respect for the rule of law; when 16 ceases to be higher than 19; when opposition figures, their vehicles and their aircrafts enjoy freedom of movement; when the police give due respect to opposition governors and the judiciary; when the party secretariats of the opposition are respected; when probity and accountability reigns; when…

In fact Nigerians are presently grateful to the South African authorities for exposing these illegal deals. Africans say everyday is for the thief, the owner has one day only and that single day is like D-day. This is what has happened.

Nigerians deserve respect. Those who voted for President Jonathan deserve better treatment. FG is dehumanizing Nigerians by ignoring every request for explanation when something goes wrong.

Has President Jonathan addressed Nigerians over the first $9.3 million? Has he given any explanation on the new $5.7 million? Where is our $20 billion? Where is our $10 billion? What happened to Stella Oduah’s armoured cars? Nothing.

FG acted with impunity in each of these cases but as we say in Africa, “A child who rejects home-training will be taught the lesson of his life outside”. That is what South Africa has done to FG. Nigerians are happy that their arrogant government met its Waterloo in Pretoria. Nobody should expect the over-worked, under-paid and over-taxed jamaheer to fight FG’s battle. Those who eat alone must fight alone.

We put it to FG that the money seized by the South African authorities was not meant to better the lot of Nigerians anyway. FG’s excuse is sheer afterthought while its warning is in bad taste. We advise FG not to play the bully with South Africa. Nigeria is not in a position to adopt gunboat diplomacy.  

Finally, we advise FG not to carry out its threat against South African businesses in the country because this is capable of backfiring. Thousands of Nigerians engage in legitimate works in South Africa. These innocent Nigerians will be exposed to both economic and physical threats if Nigeria hits South Africa’s business interests. Unlike Nigerians who are unhappy with their government, South Africans will quickly align with their government and treat every Nigerian on the street like a thief and a rogue.

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


Monday, October 6, 2014

NO MUSLIM CANDIDATE PLANS TO CONVERT TO CHRISTIANITY


7th October, 2014
PRESS RELEASE:
NO MUSLIM CANDIDATE PLANS TO CONVERT TO CHRISTIANITY

Our office has been inundated with requests for the clarification of a rumour currently going viral about a presidential candidate of the All Progressives Party (APC) who ‘plans’ to convert to Christianity in order to win the 2015 presidential election. The candidate was alleged to have said, “I can become a Christian if necessary so as to rule Nigeria”.  This rumour is being spread on facebook in Hausa language.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) wishes to debunk this wicked propaganda. It is false, baseless, malicious and calculated not only to tarnish the image of the Muslim candidate but also to destroy his chance at the polls. It is total balderdash.  

The rumour is obviously a dirty political gimmick which could only have been resorted to by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in its desperation to cling to power at all cost. Knowing that it is sacriledge in Islam for a Muslim to desert his faith, PDP intends to paint the Muslim candidate as extremely desperate, so desperate that he was ready to dump Islam for Christianity.

The calculation is that by selling this wicked dummy, the candidate would lose his teeming Muslim supporters. It is an attempt at eliminating a political opponent by subterfuge. It is demeaning, insulting and ridiculous. It is infra dignitatem.

MURIC is aware of at least three presidential candidates in the APC, viz: former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Governor Musa Kwankwaso of Kano and former head of state Gen. (rtd) Muhammadu Buhari. We affirm that all three Muslim candidates are fine gentlemen and good Muslims who cannot contemplate the idea of leaving Islam for any other religion.

MURIC again warns the ruling party to desist from demonising Islam. Nigerian Muslims have no anointed political party. Neither does MURIC, which is no more than a non-violent, dialogue-committed Islamic human rights organization promoting Allah-given and fundamental human rights of Muslims and other Nigerians. We advocate voting based on conviction about candidates’ capabilities, not along religious lines. We also wish to remind the PDP in particular and Nigerians in general that Muslims exist as members in all political parties, the PDP inclusive.

We therefore advise the ruling party to stop playing religious politics. If the PDP has mortgaged the franchise of its members nationwide by imposing President Jonathan as its sole candidate, it should not attempt the ‘elimination by substitution’ trick on its most feared candidate in the opposition party.

Finally, MURIC advises APC leaders not to commit the same political blunder like the ruling party. All candidates must be given a level playing field during the primaries while no single religion must occupy the two main slots as presidential candidate and the running mate.

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



ANOTHER $5.7M SEIZED IN SOUTH AFRICA: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH


6th October, 2014
PRESS RELEASE:
ANOTHER $5.7M SEIZED IN SOUTH AFRICA: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

The South African Asset Forfeiture Unit of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has allegedly seized another $5.7 million belonging to the Federal Government of Nigeria. It will be recalled that the whopping sum of $9.3 million was seized in the same manner last month in the same country.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is greatly perturbed by this festival of international embarrassments as a result of clandestine misadventures of the Nigerian government.

We told Nigerians when the first incident occurred that there was more to it than met the eyes. We have been proved right. With this second international misconduct, we are convinced that our government has been engaging in this criminal act for long.

We strongly suspect that billions of dollars have been siphoned outside this country by the powers of today. It cannot be South Africa alone. Fortunes must have been illegally shipped to Eastern Europe, Switzerland and South America. Israel must also have been seen as a safe haven by the kleptomaniacs in government.

It is needless asking the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to investigate. They cannot investigate their employer. President Jonathan institutionalized corruption when on 5th May, 2014 he described “70% of corruption cases” in Nigeria as “common stealing”. That statement was meant for Nigeria’s anti-graft agencies. The top echelons of the Federal Government appear to possess the noun ‘thief’ and the verb ‘to steal’.

Apart from the corruption angle, the involvement of the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in one of the deals is still a curious development. It evolves a conspiracy theory capable of igniting tension between Christians and Muslims.

The National Assembly must not desert the electorate at this crucial hour. Our legislators must ask probing questions on our behalf. There must be no sacred cows. Enough is enough.

MURIC appeals to the international community not to leave Nigeria alone in these trying times. We call on other countries through which Nigerian money has been ferried to speak up. We charge the United Nations to institute an international investigation into these cases of money-laundering and illegal arms deals.     


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



Friday, October 3, 2014

SALAH MESSAGE: MURIC INVITES LEADERS TO MAKE TANGIBLE SACRIFICES


4th October, 2014

SALAH MESSAGE:
MURIC INVITES LEADERS TO MAKE TANGIBLE SACRIFICES

Nigerian Muslims will today join millions of others across the globe in marking the Id ul-Kabiir.       

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) seizes the opportunity of this grand event to felicitate with the leadership of the Nigerian Muslim community, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’d Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), all Nigerian Muslims and every Nigerian citizen who is witnessing the occasion today.

We remind Nigerian leaders of the core lesson in Id ul-Kabiir which is sacrifice. Prophet Ibraheem (peace be upon him) who is the father of the Ibrahimic faiths remains a universal model today because of the huge sacrifice he made by offering to sacrifice his son.

His exemplary role therefore became a model for both Muslims and Christians because the same Ibraheem (Abraham) was the father of both Ishaq and Ismail (Isaac and Ishmael, peace be upon both of them) who were the forebearers of Islam and Christianity respectively.

Our leaders must ask themselves why the Nigerian president have ten aircrafts when the American president has two only? What is our president doing with twenty five official cars when the British Prime Minister has only two?

Why does a Nigerian senator earn N245 million per year when his counterpart in the United States collects a meager $6,000 (approximately N990,000 @ N165 to $1) annually. Why must Nigeria have about 42 cabinet ministers when the US has 24 only?

Excellence is being sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity. Nigeria is being mortgaged unless our leaders follow the Abrahamic model. Except for a few among them, the present leaders are not making the necessary sacrifices. Neither are they living by example. Otherwise the case of the missing $20 billion would not have been swept under the carpet. Neither would those who preach cashlessness siphon $9.3m to Pretoria. International criminals are granted state pardon and given national awards.
Anti-corruption agencies have taken the cue from our leadership, treating corruption cases with kid gloves. MURIC is shocked that at a time when the Ghanaian president fired a minister for merely wishing to be rich (February 2014), President Jonathan on May 5, 2014 described 70% of corruption cases in Nigeria as “common stealing”.

No wonder, therefore, that Ekpo Nta , the chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), one of Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies, taking the cue from his boss in Aso Rock, said “stealing is erroneously reported as corruption” even by the “educated”. How then can we expect ICPC to seriously tackle any corruption case?

Nigerians have no business being poor if it is true that this country produces 2.4 million barrels of oil per day and sell the oil at N93.61 per barrel. No Nigerian should sleep under the bridge if it is true that we make $224 million per day from the same oil alone. This daily income from oil gives us $81 billion or N12.8 trillion per annum. Paradoxically, Nigeria remains the 20th hungriest nation and the 26th poorest country in the world.

If our budget for year 2014 is N4.6 trillion and our annual income from oil alone is N12.8 trillion, what business have we going out to borrow a single dollar from outside? The sum of $1 billion loan approved by Senate for President Jonathan to buy weapons to fight Boko Haram was therefore a prodigal adventure.

70% of Nigerian school children failed in the last West African Examination Council tests. 1 million Nigerians are totally blind. 32 million have river blindness. 300,000 die of malaria every year. 30 million are hypertensive. 4 million suffer from diabetes. 80 million Nigerians live below poverty level. The average Nigerian lives on less than $1 per day. Per capita income is around $300.  Life span in Nigeria which was 74 before independence is now 47! So where are we going? Forward or backward?

MURIC therefore invites Nigerian leaders, from Aso Rock to the local government councils to reflect on the sufferings of millions of Nigerian citizens and make palpable sacrifices before it is too late. We call the attention of President Jonathan to Article 14:2(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which says inter alia, “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”.

Finally, we offer the following pieces of advice for the way forward in Nigeria:

1.  There must be huge cuts in government’s spending at all levels.
2.  The salaries and other emoluments of public officers and members of the National Assembly should be drastically reduced.
3.  Corruption agencies must be given full autonomy in such a way that their appointment, funding and dismissal should not be in the hands of the Nigerian president.
4.  No public office holder should be allowed to train his children or wards abroad (this will make them pay attention to the education of Nigerian children).
5.   No public office holder should seek medical attention outside the country. This will compel them to improve the health sector at home.
6.  Public officers should be banned from using helicopters or private jets to shuttle from one part of the country to another. This will force them to build good roads for us.

Qur’an 33:68 attests to the fate of corrupt and inept leaders on the Day of Judgement when their citizens will accuse them of mismanaging their affairs and they will ask Allah to double the punishment of such leaders (rabbana atihim di’fayn minal adhab).

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