Monday, July 22, 2019
22nd July, 2019
ALLOW HIJAB IN ARMY, POLICE & PARA-MILITARY
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is considering interim relief to allow a Muslim female soldier to wear hijab. The minister of defence is also set to review the policy on dress code in the South African army. The female soldier, Major Fatima Isaacs, reportedly disobeyed the order of a senior officer who asked her to remove the hijab she adorned under her beret.
In a related development, a female Muslim police woman of South East origin who was formerly called Patience but who has converted to Islam and now bears Halimah is allegedly facing disciplinary action from her senior colleagues for using hijab with her police uniform somewhere in Ikorodu, Lagos State. A photograph of Halimah in police uniform with her hijab tucked under her police beret went viral two weeks ago.
Sequel to this development, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has appealed to the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Police and all para-military forces in the country to allow their female Muslim staffers to use hijab. This was stated in a press statement signed by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Tuesday, 23rd July, 2019.
According to the Islamic human rights organization, “Many Muslim women in the armed forces and the police are suffering in silence. Halimah the police woman is not the only one who craves to use hijab. There are many others. They cannot speak out for fear of the kind of disciplinary action being faced by Halimah. But the result is lack of job satisfaction, loss of focus and a desertification of spiritual well-being. They are just being human and every homo sapien is body, soul and spirit.
“This is why we are calling on the police authorities to treat Halimah’s case with understanding. This is not a case of professional misconduct. It is a quest after spiritual sanctification. The police should note Section 38 (i) and (ii) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guarantees her religious freedom.
“The case of Halimah can be compared to that of Fatima in South Africa and the latter is not being court-martialed. Instead, the South African army is reviewing its dress code as it pertains to Muslims. This is what our army and police should do. We cannot affor to stick dogmatically to an anachronistic system.
“The world is changing fast. Lt. Cdr. Wafa Dabbagh became the first Canadian military officer to wear hijab in 1996 and the Canadian military dress code manual was adjusted to allow it in 2001 (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43758999). Canada gave her female Muslim police officers the liberty to wear hijab in 2013 (https://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/2008754/canadas-mounties-allow-women-officers-wear-hijab)
“Scotland had just six female Muslims out of 17,242 officers in August 2016 when it approved hijab because it was discovered that Muslim women were avoiding police job due to fear of losing their hijab if they joined (https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/scotland-police-muslim-hijab-diversity-tolerance/ and https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-3716642). Ireland joined the European bandwaggon on approval of hijab for police women who are Muslims in April 2019 (https://www.islamicfinder.org/news/ireland-permits-muslim-police-officers-to-wear-hijab/)
“The British police, Ireland, Scotland, US, Canada, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Trinidad and Tobago, New Zealand, Australia, etc have already keyed into the use of hijab by their female Muslim members. In November 2018, a High Court judge in Trinidad ruled that Muslim women police officers are to be allowed to wear their hijabs while on duty. So what is Nigeria waiting for?
“These are verifiable facts. Infotech has reduced the world to a global village. Instead of engaging in armchair criticism, we advise doubting Thomases to check the following links:
“The United States Army approved hijab in 2017 following a memorandum issued by the Secretary of the US Army in Washington on 3rd January 2017 under the subject-matter Army Directive 2017-03 (Policy for Brigade-Level Approval of Certain Requests for Religious Accomodation)
“It is only in Nigeria that religious maradonisation has taken control of our thinking faculties and we have consequently excommunicated objectivity from our boarders. The hijab does not interfere with the professional efficiency of the person wearing it. For crying out loud, she covers her head, not her brain!
“Available records indicate that several Muslim women have shelved the idea of joining any of the uniformed forces for fear of abandoning hijab. We therefore advocate the use of hijab by female Muslim uniformed officers in keeping with global best practices. It is the only obstacle standing between Muslim women and military service, including the police, customs, immigrations, traffic administrators, etc.
“We call on the army, police and paramilitary authorities to meet the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) which is the umbrella organization for all Islamic associations in the country with a view to discussing the dress code for Muslims in their institutions. It is interesting to note that a similar discussion is currently taking place this week between the South African defence force and representatives of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) of South Africa.
“The revision of the dress code for Muslims in the Nigerian armed forces and its para-military must not be seen as an anathema when the South African army is considering same even when the population of Muslims in South Africa is just 1.9% whereas Muslims are in the majority in Nigeria.
“The cases of Fatima and Halimah must jog the professional conscience of the Nigerian military and the Nigerian police. For how long can we remain dogmatic? For how long must we enslave Nigerian Muslims under neo-colonialism?
“Even the colonial master has softened up. Female Muslims in the British police have been using hijab for years now. It amounts to gender discrimination with a religious taint. It also means that Nigeria is yet to fully integrate its Muslim population fifty-nine years after independence. It casts a shadow of insincerity on our so-called efforts at building cohesion, oneness and peace.
“The present system is, to say the least, parochial, discriminatory and oppressive. Our uniforms should be fashioned to suit the needs of our communities and Muslims constitute an integral part of our communities. By the same token, our military and police forces should genuinely mirror the communities they serve. Allowing female Muslim officers to use hijab will trully reflect the richness and diversity of our country.
“A liberal policy which allows female Muslim officers to wear hijab will inject a huge dose of confidence in the Muslim population and give them greater sense of belonging. As it stands today, our military and paramilitary uniforms appear to have been designed for a non-Muslim environment and population. It is not Muslim-friendly but anti-Muslim. Many Muslim police and para-military officers are suffering in silence. This should not happen in a true democracy. It is high time we corrected this lopsided democratic entity.
MURIC charges Northern states which have large Muslim majorities to immediately and speedily launch the pilot scheme by embarking on the fashioning of para-military uniforms of female Muslims which conform with Islamic guidelines. We cannot afford to continue a copy-cat policy which derides Islam. The liberation drive must start now.
“We charge the Federal Government (FG) to include hijab as part of the dress code for women volunteers in the proposed community police which plans to recruit 40,000 volunteers in every state. Particularly now that we are starting community policing, involve Muslim women in hijab. We remind FG that women in Muslim communities will find it more convenient to relate and confide in Muslim police women who use hijab. Criminologists agree that women in communities are sine qua non to the provision of information to the police at grassroots level.
“In summary, we call for the immediate review of the dress code policy as it affects Muslims generally in the Nigerian Army, the police and paramilitary forces in line with global best practices. FG should kickstart this policy as Nigeria embarks on an aggressive community policing in the next few weeks. We appeal to the Nigeria police to allow Halima the police woman to continue to use her hijab.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Thursday, July 18, 2019
19th July, 2019
MURIC LAUDS SENATE FOR CONFIRMING CJN, OTHERS
The Nigerian Senate yesterday confirmed Justice Muhammad Tanko as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
Meanwhile the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has congratulated the newly confirmed CJN. The Islamic human rights advocacy group described his confirmation as a victory for democracy and the rule of law. This was contained in a terse statement circulated on Friday, 19th July, 2019 by its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
“We congratulate Justice Muhammad Tanko on his confirmation as the substantive CJN. We also felicitate with other nominees of President Muhammadu Buhari who were confirmed yesterday. It is victory for democracy and the rule of law. Light has finally overwhelmed darkness. This is the people’s Senate.
“The 9th Senate deserves accolades for starting on a positive note. This is quite promising. Unlike the heavily sarakitised 8th Senate which was confrontational, diversionary, wasteful and unpatriotic, we can see the signs of a red chamber ready for real business. True to the principle of separation of power, we do not expect the 9th Senate to be a rubber stamp but at least it is not likely to become a bottle-neck for governance.
“We charge the current Senate to expedite action on the confirmation of other nominees, especially the acting head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu who was denied confirmation by the 8th Senate throughout its tortuous duration.
“As we draw the curtain, we note that the newly confirmed CJN told Senate yesterday that there is corruption in the judiciary. We therefore invite him to set the machinery in motion to carry out a thorough reform of the Nigerian judicial system without fear or favour.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
18th July, 2019
STOP POLITICISING RUGA
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has cautioned Nigerians to stop politicizing the RUGA affair. The Islamic human rights organization gave the warning in a press statement circulated by its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Thursday, 18th July, 2019.
“Nigerians should stop listening to rogue politicians. There is nothing like Fulanis planning to install Emir of Oshogbo, Emir of Enugu or Emir of Asaba. It is all balderdash. These are false alarms being raised by unscrupulous politicians and expired demagogues.
“For decades in this country, we have always had Seriki Hausawa in almost all the cities of the South just as we have always had Oba Yoruba and Igwe of the Igbo in almost all the cities of Northern Nigeria. These were mere symbolic leaders of those tribal groups residing in states and cities other than their own. They were there for ease of administration and inter-tribal relations and they peacefully co-existed with their host communities.
“But suddenly rogue politicians and merchants of hate speech began inciting Nigerians against Northerners, particularly Fulanis and herdsmen. All sorts of crimes were ascribed to them, especially kidnapping and armed robbery. It is as if the Oyenusis among the Yoruba have suddenly disappeared while the Evans among the Igbo have melted away like ice cream in the desert sun.
“It amounts to gross mischief and incalculable disservice to humanity to use this as a reason for rejecting the RUGA plan. RUGA, which means rural grazing area is being misinterpreted to gullible Nigerians as an attempt by Northerners to install Emirs in the South or an attempt by them to invade Southern communities. This is far from the truth.
“MURIC condemns the politicization of RUGA. We frown at the stereotyping of any ethnicity or group of persons anywhere in the world, particularly Nigeria. All tribes have their own share of criminals just as there are decent and industrious citizens among all ethnicities. We are alarmed at the rate of deception, outright lies and make-beliefs calculated at inciting Southerners against Fulanis and Hausas.
“We call on Southerners to resist political charlatans who are out to spread hate and ignite widespread hostilities. We call on Southerners to think out of the box as there are many angles to the concept of RUGA. For instance, we can start looking at the quantity of cattle sales in a place like Lagos where about 6,000 cows are slaughtered daily. This is big business for crying out loud.
“Any visionary governor from the South will accept the RUGA policy purely for economic reasons. We cannot afford to remain naïve and blinded by ethnic jingoism. 10% commission to the state coffers is not pittance especially as it runs into billions of naira.
“As we fold our mats, we charge Southern governors to think more of the economic gains of RUGA and not the rumoured, unfounded and quixotic installation of emirs in Southern communities. It is a farce. We should be looking at the message, not the messenger. We call on Southerners to ignore disgruntled politicians and stop idolizing demons. Nigeria needs unity now more than ever before and this is why we must move closer to all non-indigenes residing or doing business in our communities.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Saturday, July 13, 2019
13th July, 2019
MURIC CONSOLES FASORANTI, URGES NIGERIANS TO IGNORE FAKE NEWS
The Nigerian Police this afternoon cleared the air on the killers of Chief Fasoranti’s daughter, Funke Olakunrin who was killed yesterday evening, Friday 12th July, 2019. The deceased is believed to be the daughter of Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti.
However, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has sent a condolence message to the deceased’s father. The human rights organization also cautioned Nigerians against jumping to any hasty conclusion about the killers. These were contained in a press statement issued by the leader of the organization, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Saturday, 13th July, 2019.
“First and foremost, we condole with the leader of Afenifere whose daughter was killed yesterday. No Nigerian deserves such horrible death. We pray that Allah will give her husband, the husband’s family and the Fasoranti family the strength to bear the loss.
“We appeal to Chief Fasoranti to bear the loss with equanimity and to treat the matter with the maturity expected of a leader and statesman. We feel his pain. Our hearts and thoughts are with Chief Fasoranti and his family at this moment.
“It is necessary at this point to warn Nigerians against spreading fake news or jumping to conclusions. We must not allow those who have hidden agenda to destroy this country. Earlier reports had said that the killers were Fulani herdsmen. But the police who arrived at the scene early enough to rescue seven of the abducted victims said the identity could only be disclosed after the culprits have been apprehended.
“Benin-Ore road is notorious for kidnapping and armed robbery. Anybody can fall victim. Let us face the criminals and not any particular tribe. There are criminal elements in all tribes just as there are good citizens all over this country. There is nothing like a siege by one tribe on another because kidnapping and armed robbery are crimes happening everywhere.
“Instead of blaming any tribe, we should focus on helping the police to stem the tide of criminality. People are being kidnapped in Zamfara and Sokoto. People are disappearing in Enugu and Calabar. Lagos-Ibadan road and Ife-Ibadan road are not so safe. But most of the criminals caught in the South are Southerners and vice versa.
“Kidnappers target their own kinsmen indiscriminately. Igbo criminals kidnap Igbo businessmen. Yoruba hoodlums deal with Yoruba folks while Northern criminals target those who live around them. These criminals do not profile their victims on the basis of ethnic leaning.
“We appeal to Nigerians to eschew ethnic stigmatization. Fake news have rented the air. We urge all Nigerians to do their own findings before believing any story. We read the scriptures but fail to follow the teachings. The Qur’an says, ‘If a rumour-monger comes to you with any news, find out the truth so that you will not harm the innocent and start regretting it later’ (49:6). In the same vein, the Bible says, ‘Investigate all matters and hold onto that which is the truth.’ (I Thessalonians 5:21).
“We therefore appeal to all to wait for the outcome of police investigations. Nigerians are everywhere. We are a highly mobile specie and there is no single tribe that does not have its own kinsmen in other places. The way we treat people of other tribes among us is the way our kinsmen will be treated by our victims’ people.
“Besides, it has become glaring that disgruntled elements are out there spreading mischief. Several false alarms have been debunked in the past by the police and this may just be one of them. Let us think of the vulnerable ones among us, women and children who are usually the major victims of crises and wars before kindling the fire of war.
“If the cassu belli of the First World War (28th July 1914 to 11th November 1918) whose toll was 37 million was the assassination of a Serbian prince, Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28th June, 1914, we must know the full implications of using the killing of the daughter of one of our leaders to incite people. It is too dangerous.
“We are also aware that thieves who stole from public coffers are jittery. They are constantly and deliberately creating confusion. They have become professional authors of fake news and merchants of hate speech. Bad losers are their ready listeners and willing cohorts. We must not allow such people to destroy this great country.
“In conclusion, we commiserate with Chief Fasoranti and his family. We commend the police for its swift intervention and for saving seven kidnap victims near the scene of crime. We urge the security agencies to up the game. We appeal to all and sundry to be wary of fake news, to cooperate with the police and to remain calm and law abiding.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Thursday, July 11, 2019
12th July, 2019
BAN BB NAIJA NOW – MURIC
Big Brother Nigeria, a.k.a. BB Naija, is currently making waves in Nigeria. The reality show has featured extremely romantic scenes among the inmates in its 2019 version.
But the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is furious. The Islamic human rights organization has kicked against the project which it labels as immoral, dangerous and Bohemian. The group’s objection was revealed in a press statement made available to the media by its Founder and Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Friday, 12th July, 2019.
“We are being forcibly dragged to a world of nudity, shamelessness and open promiscuity. Inmates of BBNaija kiss, romance and engage in sex openly. BBNaija is Bohemian, anti-social, crude and immoral. It constitutes a potent danger to every home. BBNaija is Satanic. It is unacceptable.
“Where are our norms and values? Is it part of African culture to engage in sex in the open? Where are the authorities? Is the Ministry of Information and Culture sleeping? Is the National Orientation Agency on sabbatical? Who will protect our children from this despicable onslaught? Who did this to Nigeria?
“This reality show is dragging our children into a life of moral debauchery. It is robbing them of the last vestiges of honour. It is deleting the word ‘shame’ from their vocabulary. BB Naija has alienated our youth from the elders. A yawning lacuna now exists between the young and the old. Irreversible social crisis looms.
“We must see those who woo our young ones with humongous amounts of money, big cars and palatial buildings as those bent on destroying industry, diligence and integrity particularly among the youth. Nothing destroys a nation faster than materialism. The daughters of Jezebel are here already. Unless the authorities move with the speed of lightning, human dignity in Nigeria is going, going, going!
“Or do we not realize that for every single BB Naija inmate who wins big amount of money and a car, more than 50 million young people are misled? Qur’an 30:41 says, ‘Evil has appeared on both land and sea as a result of the handiworks of men…’ The Bible in Ephesians 4:19 was also describing these people when it says, ‘Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.’
“Already, the desperate quest for wealth by all means has gripped Nigerian youth like hay fever. It has railroaded them into Yahoo Yahoo, ritual killings and a museum mentality for the collection of female panties. Where exactly are we going?
“This development calls for serious concern and we are deeply concerned because we are the Muslim Rights Concern. Our hearts bleed in MURIC. This is the kind of evil that Muslim and Christian leaders should unite to fight with all their strength instead of dissipating their energy on a phantom Islamisation, a mirage called Fulanisation, Maradonic religiousity and gymnastic spirituality.
“We can put an end to this anomaly called BB Naija if Christians and Muslims bury the hatchet and come together to fight evil. Home is home. Moral debauchery knows no religion. The destructive influence of television shows like BB Naija penetrates both Christian and Muslim homes.
“Ditto for the custodians of our culture and tradition. Our traditional rulers ignore a program like this which has all the potentials to diminish the dignity of our culture. They are fighting over who should be chairman of the Council of traditional rulers. They want to be the King of kings and rivals of the Supreme Creator. Who placed a curse on Nigeria?
“Homo sapiens may not respect a single snake when they see one. But can anyone wait to see what follows if the cobra leads and it is faithfully followed by the python, the black mamba, rattle snake, garter snake and the anaconda? So what do you think will happen if our traditional rulers from the East, West and North march on Aso Rock to demand the immediate halt of this horrible show?
“To cap the edifice, MURIC calls for immediate and total ban on this satanic television show. We charge the Ministry of Information and Culture to move swiftly against BB Naija before moral debauchery becomes Nigeria’s middle name. Nigerian youth must be protected from themselves and the time to do so is now. We invite the National Assembly to intervene immediately and we appeal to traditional rulers to add their voices to this campaign.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
10th July, 2019
UI HIJAB CRISIS: MURIC DECLARES DAY OF SOLIDARITY
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has declared Friday, 12th July, 2019 as a Day of Solidarity with female Muslim girls who are facing persecution in South West Nigeria for wearing hijab. This is coming on the heels of a video clip showing the molestation of female Muslim students at the International School of the University of Ibadan (ISI).
MURIC declared the Day of Solidarity in a press statement circulated by its Founder and Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Wednesday, 10th July, 2019.
According to the statement, “Muslims are one nation throughout the world. The Glorious Qur’an specifically affirmed this in chapter 23 verse 52 where it says, ‘Verily indeed this nation of yours is one nation.’
“The hadith goes on to corroborate this when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Muslims are like one building whose walls firmly support one another’. He also said, ‘The example of a community of Muslims is like the example of a man’s body, all parts of the body feel the pain whenever he is hurt.’
“It is in this respect and in response to several telephone calls and text messages sent to MURIC’s headquarters by concerned Muslims that we are declaring Friday 12th July, 2019 the Day of Solidarity in support of all those innocent female Muslim girls that are being persecuted in secondary schools in the South West, particularly the most recent, appalling, disgraceful and barbaric treatment of underaged Muslim girls at the ISI, Ibadan.
“MURIC and all other Islamic organisations and individual Muslims in Nigeria are in solidarity with these innocent girls. Our message to them is this: We are your parents. We are your fathers and mothers. We love you and we will never abandon you. We feel your pain. We assure you that you are not alone. Our hearts are with you. Continue to persevere with patience because the days of your oppressors are numbered.
“To the oppressors we say, ‘Oppress one, oppress all: that is the stand of Nigerian Muslims. Your tyranny will catch up with you very soon. You are restless and running around in circles. You can run but you cannot hide because divine truth will always overwhelm social truth. Truth is constant. It does not waver. You are looking for ways to perpetuate your wickedness but it cannot last forever.
“Remember that when a hen perches on a rope, neither the rope nor the hen will enjoy stability. Justice is the soul of peace. Those who deny one can never have the other. Therefore, you will never have peace until you leave our daughters alone. Let our daughters go! The law permits them to use hijab. We advise you to allow the rule of law to prevail.’
“To the Muslims of Ibadan, we ask, are you with these innocent Muslim girls or are you against them? They have been horribly treated under your noses. What kind of parents will leave their daughters to face persecution in silence? Even hens protect their young ones from roving hawks. Hijab sisters in UI, are you with us or against us?
“We hereby declare Friday, 12th July, 2019 as the Day of Solidarity with these poor, innocent girls who have fallen victims of Nigeria’s maradonic religiousity. MURIC has mapped out certain actions to be taken by Muslims who attend Jumu‘ah service on that day. Firstly, we urge Imams throughout Nigeria and elsewhere to pray for victory for Muslim girls who are facing persecution for wearing hijab. Pray that Allah will give our daughters the strength of character to withstand their oppressors, downpressors and repressors.
“Secondly, Muslims all over Nigeria are to stage a one-hour solidarity rally in a peaceful manner outside their mosques carrying placards with messages of sympathy with the girls immediately after the Jumu‘ah service. Decorum should be observed during the rallies. Nobody should use provocative or abusive language and nobody should block the smooth flow of traffic or molest passers-by. Neither should participants go beyond the front of their mosques.
“Thirdly, we appeal to all Muslims to wear white dresses on that day as a manifestation of peaceful intention and in order to display uniformity in solidarity.
“As we wind up, we reiterate our commitment to peaceful conduct. We affirm that the declaration of a Day of Solidarity is just Stage One of our extension of dialogue. MURIC will make more announcements for the next stages as events unfold, particularly if the authorities still do nothing about our grievances. We remind the Muslim Ummah to remain resolute and to continue the struggle if MURIC’s leaders are arrested. Solidarity forever!”.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Sunday, July 7, 2019
MURIC WADES INTO HIJAB SAGA IN UI SCHOOL
Officials of the International School Ibadan (ISI) on Wednesday July 3rd and Thursday July 4th 2019 forced female Muslim students in hijab to remove them about 100 meters from the school’s gate. A video showcasing this incident has since gone viral on social media.
Wading into the recent development in ISI, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has described the incident as the height of religious apartheid, a show of shame and the mother of all apartheid. The human rights body made this known in a press statement issued and signed by its Founder and Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Sunday, 7th July, 2019.
The statement reads, “The video of officials of ISI recently trending on social media is not only provocative, it is nauseating, unethical, repugnant and barbaric. It is nothing short of the height of religious intolerance, a show of shame and the mother of all apartheid.
“We find it difficult to believe this is happening under the watch of an internationally recognized higher institution and premier university in Nigeria. This incident diminishes the reputation of the University of Ibadan as a citadel of learning and a center of excellence. It takes the institution back to the Stone Age. Academic culture demands openness, moderation and liberal disposition particularly on matters of religion.
“The action of officials of ISI is a flagrant violation of Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which stipulates that every Nigerian citizen has the right to ‘practice and manifest’ his or her faith. In addition, by causing open embarrassment to the parents and the victims, the school has openly contravened the right to the dignity of the human person as entrenched in Section 34 (b) & (c) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended (2011).
“This stereotyping of female Muslim students at ISI constitutes an assault on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Article 4, Clause 1 & 2 which says, ‘Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person.’
“ISI school’s show of shame also exposes the school’s lack of respect for the religious feelings of those female Muslim students, their parents and the sensitivities of Nigerian Muslims in general. It therefore infringed upon Article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights & Fundamental Freedoms which contains a call to have ‘respect for the religious feelings of believers…’
“That is not all. Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right, (ICCPR) guarantees the right to freedom of religion unconditionally. The UN HRC General Comment No. 22 on article 18 of ICCPR reveals a strong support for religious freedom, particularly the use of hijab.
“The relevant provision of the General Comment goes thus: 'The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion in article 18 is far reaching and profound...the fundamental character of these freedoms is also reflected in the fact that this provision cannot be derogated from, even in time of public emergency...The freedom to manifest religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching encompasses a broad range of acts...may include the wearing of distinctive clothing or head covering...’
“Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also lays emphasis on ‘Right to freedom from Discrimination on grounds of race, nationality or religion …’
“All the above international legal instruments empower us to externalize the struggle if the authorities fail to act. MURIC will have no option than to drag the Nigerian government, the National Assembly, authorities of the University of Ibadan, its Council and Senate Mrs. Phebean Olowe as well as the governments of all South Western states that allow the persecution of female Muslim students using hijab or disallows the latter from using hijab to the United Nations for actively persecuting and profiling the girl-child in Nigeria. We will expose the hypocrisy of South West leaders who pretend to support education for the girl-child but discreetly encourage those who lock school gates against female Muslim children.
“We demand the immediate sack of the school principal, Mrs. Phebean Olowe. She is a huge disgrace to motherhood, an unmitigated disaster in the pursuit of education for all, an established Muslim-hater and a tyrant in academic garb. Our call for action to be taken against Mrs. Olowe is based on the provisions of Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria which says:
(1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government (or its agencies-addition ours), to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinions are not made subject;
“Also under the school principal’s watch, female Muslim students have been publicly stigmatized, publicly embarrassed and traumatised. Her actions therefore constitute a deliberate and calculated disregard for Section 13 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act (1991) which provides ‘A public officer shall not do or direct to be done, in abuse of his office, any act prejudicial to the rights of any person knowing that such act is unlawful or contrary to any government policy’
“ISI belongs to UI and UI belongs to the Federal Government (FG). This implies that Mrs. Olowe is a public officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who has blatantly abused her office. FG must therefore call her to order through UI, her employer.
“The problem with Nigeria is not a dearth of effective laws. Our problem is lack of the necessary political will to enforce those laws. Nigeria will therefore be in constant crisis until we all call a spade a spade. The buck stops on Mrs. Olowe’s table as far as ISI is concerned. She is one of those public officers who abuse their power due to personal interest.
“MURIC has received a barrage of telephone calls, text messages, etc, from several parts of the country since the video went viral. This is capable of precipitating religious crisis unless higher authorities wade in immediately. We therefore call on the Honourable Minister of Education and the National Assembly to immediately institute a probe into the matter. Failure to act immediately will be an open invitation to chaos.
“We are convinced that the ISI imbroglio, like other similar hijab fracas in the South West, may not necessarily require legal intervention. It must be settled by high authorities desirable of implementing and enforcing the laws of the land. The law is an ass and tyrants are known to have manipulated it to satisfy their whims and caprices.
“That is why Muslims of the South West must change their strategy. The recent trend showing a proliferation of assaults on hijab in the sub-region calls for a change in strategy. The era of restricted dialogue is over. We are entering a period of extended-interface.
“Our people say human beings remain quiet when flies perch on a man’s wound but they scream in consternation at the owner of the wound when he starts eating the flies (Omo araiye ko ni soro nigbati esinsin ba nje elegbo, o di igba ti elegbo ba nje esinsin ki araiye to bere si pariwo).
“The whole world has seen how all our statements, petitions and appeals on the violation of Allah-given fundamental rights of Muslims have fallen on deaf ears. The records are there. The period of restricted dialogue lasted more than ten years. Yet our oppressors and Muslim-haters in the South West will not relent. From Ogbomosho to Abeokuta, from Lagos to Ibadan, Muslims have become endangered species.
“MURIC hereby declares the extension of dialogue. We will no longer limit our intervention to ordinary press statements. We will no longer watch in silence and agony as our daughters and mothers are defiled and disgraced in public. All those schools where our daughters are being denied their Allah-given fundamental human rights were built with public funds. They are our common patrimony because Muslims are also tax-payers. There is no Christian Central Bank of Nigeria just as there is no Muslim Central Bank. Public schools belong to all.
“You will see us on the streets from now on albeit for non-violent expression of our rights. With this statement, we are directing the Oyo State chapter of MURIC to join forces with the Muslim Parents Forum (MPF) of ISI under the leadership of Alhaji Abdul Rahman Balogun, Ibadan Muslim Community under the leadership of renowned Muslim activist and dynamic leader, Alhaji Kunle Sanni and the Muslim Students Society (MSS) Zone 2. We must #occupy ISI, UI and South West state assemblies until they do the needful.
To cap the edifice, MURIC calls on Muslims in all cities, villages and hamlets of Yorubaland to join their brothers and sisters in Ibadan for the peaceful mass protests. This is intellectual jihad. Every Muslim must partake in this. Any Muslim who fails to do so is living in a state between the states (fi manzilatin baynal manzilatayn) unless he or she is constrained by old age, health challenge, etc. In the same vein, we warn against violent disposition during the protests. Islam is a religion of peace and violence is antithetical to the true teachings of Islam. Violence is not the answer to religious intolerance in the South West.
“The Qur’an asks Muslims, ‘Why should you not rise in the cause of Allah to defend men, women and children who are oppressed due to their weakness? The weak ones cry out, ‘Our Lord! rescue us from this city (ISI?) whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from Thee one who will protect us, and send to us a helper!’ (Qur’an 4:75-76).
و ما لكم لا تقاتلون في سبيل الله و المستضعفين من الرجال و النساء و الولدان الدين يقولون
ربنا اخرجنا من هده القرية الظالم اهلها و اجعل لنا من لدنك وليا و اجعل لنا من لدنك نصيرا
“UI has remained tacitly endorsed the unjust treatment of Muslim girls in its international school and unleashed its security staff to molest our daughters. We therefore call for the commencement of sustained yet peaceful demonstrations around UI and its environs. We call out all Islamic organisations in Ibadan and Oyo State in general to mobilise their members. The Federation of Muslim Women Associations of Nigeria (FOMWAN) cannot afford to close its eyes to the molestation, harassment, intimidation and coercion of its daughters and future members.
“#ourmumudondo. Rights anywhere in the world are never given on platters of gold. They are demanded and struggled for. Enough of Muslim docility. We must act now or never! Yoruba Muslims have been pushed to the wall. Fingers have been poked in our eyes because we elected to be civil and tolerant. Now we are in pain. Our hearts are bleeding. Our daughters are crying. The parents are angry. Muslim youths are emotionally charged. The elders are torn between Chillan and Charybdis. Olowe has murdered sleep. She shall sleep no more.
“We ask NASFAT, QAREEB, Ansarud-Deen, Nawairu-Deen, etc, are you not touched? You must not allow Nigerians to see you as sleeping giants. We have the number. Unfortunately we are too docile. MURIC is using the extant laws of the land to challenge the status quo. There is nothing illegal in what we are doing.
“We therefore call on the security agents to desist from being overzealous over this. The police should consider this statement as a notification of coming mass protests. Don’t hound MURIC. Don’t harass Muslim leaders. What you should do is to call those violating Allah-given fundamental rights of our daughters to order. The security agents should even invite Mrs. Olowe to explain the legality, lawfulness and constitutionality of her actions. Does she have the right to take actions capable of disturbing the peace?
“On a final note, we demand the immediate sack of the school principal, Mrs. Phebean Olowe. We call on the Honourable Minister of Education, the NASS and the UI authorities to do the needful on the ISI imbroglio. Olowe must go. Hijab must be allowed in the school. Not because MURIC wants it but because that is what the law says and ISI, UI and others must obey the rule of law.
With the present security challenges all over the country, FG must see the need to nip this crisis in the bud. A single overzealous school principal must not be allowed to set the sub-region on fire. She must be called to order.
To douse tension, we call for a policy statement emanating from the presidency, the Federal Ministry of Education the NASS and the state governments of the South West specifically on the boiling matter of hijab. This will be a wholistic approach to the hijab saga in the South West. Only these steps can make MURIC withdraw its call for peaceful mass protests in all South West cities.
The struggle must be sustained even if security agents arrest MURIC’s leaders. No surrender, no retreat until all our daughters suffering humiliation in Abeokuta, Ogbomosho, Lagos and Ibadan are granted full, comprehensive and irreversible permission to use hijab in all schools. We do not issue threats but we repeat, No retreat, No surrender.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)