Sunday, September 16, 2018

FUPR VC MANIFESTING RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY


17th September, 2018
PRESS RELEASE:
FUPR VC MANIFESTING RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY


Muslims in the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurum, Delta State, are being denied their Allah-given fundamental human rights. This is as a result of the insistence of the institution’s Vice Chancellor to disallow Muslims from observing Jum’ah prayer on Fridays.


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) raised this alarm on Monday in a press release signed by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.


The Islamic human rights organization complained that the Vice Chancellor of FUPR, Effurum, has refused to allow Muslim students and staff to attend the Friday prayer. Efforts to persuade him via communications and dialogue have not yielded any tangible result. The first semester examination time table was not Jum’ah-compliant as examinations were fixed without any consideration for the Jum’ah period.


“We are miffed that the VC claims that he cannot allow Muslims to go to mosque on Friday ‘because Nigeria is a secular country’. This is a most preposterous claim. It is outrageous. It is incredible. We don’t expect ignorance at the apex of a citadel of learning. Nigeria is not a secular country. It is a multi-religious country. Secular countries do not recognize religion but Nigeria does. Or can the VC show us the word ‘secular’ in the Nigerian constitution?


“No Vice Chancellor has the right to hide under a phony secular society to stop Muslims from observing Jum’ah prayer. By the way, the VC does not allow Muslims to go to the mosque, but won’t he go to church on Sunday? Won’t the Christian staff and students also go to church on Sunday? What right has the VC to stop the Muslims from attending Jum’ah service on Friday when he and the Christian staff and students go to church on Sunday? Isn’t what is good for the goose also good for the gander? How can secularism mean freedom for Christians to worship on Sunday but oppression and persecution for Muslims on Friday?Are men and women of good conscience listening?


“Here lies the hypocrisy behind the usual claim of secularism in Nigeria. Christian fanatics use it as an excuse to cheat Muslims. They get all they want but they don’t want their neighbours to have access to the same thing. It is the height of injustice and anyone who pursues an unjust policy is not looking for peace. Justice is the soul of peace. Nobody can deny one and enjoy the other. Justice and peace are inseparable.
 
 
“It beats our imagination that the Vice Chancellor of a federal university will challenge Muslims to present any official document from the federal government that makes provision for Jum’ah services in federal establishments. Universities are expected to be centers of excellence, we are therefore shocked that gymnastic religiousity can manifest at such level of intellectualism.  


“We are constrained to ask, ‘Is this VC aware of the provision for freedom of religion in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? If he is not aware, has he cared to consult his university’s legal department?  Is the VC aware of the existence of Muslims in this country? If so, has it not occurred to him that by accepting the post of VC, many of the staff and students under him will be Muslims? Does he want to remain VC of Christian staff and students only to the detriment of the adherents of other faiths? Has he travelled outside Delta State to observe what obtains in other places or is he an armchair vice chancellor?

    
“The Vice Chancellor of FUPR has failed to realize that this is a federal institution. Even if it is a state university, are we supposed to persecute any religious group in an academic environment? Academicians are expected to know better, to pursue objectivity, to lead by example and to shun all sentimentalities.


“All that should be of interest to a Vice Chancellor is whether or not his staff are performing their official duties and whether his students are learning. He should create an atmosphere conducive to the pursuit of knowledge. No more no less. But things will start going wrong when the head of an institution begins targeting a religious group for oppression”.


Akintola expressed serious concern for the welfare of Muslims under the VC of FUPR. “How can the Federal Government entrust the lives of Muslim staff and students to a biased Christian VC? We have every reason to doubt that Muslims can be safe under this man. We have every reason to doubt that Muslims will receive fair treatment under him.


“MURIC will continue to expose religious bigots in public and private institutions and enterprises who deprive Muslims of their Allah-given fundamental human rights. We will not fold our arms while some religious fundamentalists deny us what Almighty Allah has given us free, more so since such rights are already guaranteed in the constitution of our country.


“There can be no excuse for disallowing Muslims from attending the Jum’ah prayer every Friday since Christians are not faced with such a challenge on Sundays. We will take every necessary lawful measures to resist this oppression of Nigerian Muslims by Christian extremists”.


As usual, MURIC seized the opportunity to connect the incident to the need to declare Friday work-free. Akintola said, “This constant persecution of Muslims on Fridays underscores the need for the Nigerian authorities to pay attention to the Friday question once again. Friday must be declared work-free like Sunday and the earlier the better. The oppression of Muslims by Christian bosses on Friday will come to a halt once Friday becomes free.   


“It is interesting to note that our organization has been investigating this Friday question since 1994. Experience has shown over the years that it is only Christian fanatics who disallow Muslims from attending the Friday prayer. Some Christians are very understanding and accommodating. There is no place in the world where people do not know that Muslims observe their special Jum’ah service on Fridays while Christians observe their own on Sundays.


“It is high time these fanatics were made to realize that Muslims are not a minority in this country. We will not allow the oppression of Muslims in any part of the country to go unchallenged. This is likely to cause friction from time to time. Those who cherish peaceful coexistence should therefore leave Muslims alone.


“We will cry out if you oppress Muslims no matter how highly placed you may be and nobody knows the extent of the heat that will be generated or where it can lead to. Oppressors of Muslims should therefore take notice. Even without being violent, even while we use lawful means only, MURIC will give you no peace. It is a digital world so there will be no place for you to hide under the sun. Yet this will only happen if you deny Muslims their rights. Those who oppress Muslims should therefore be seen as enemies of peace.  


“However, we assure Nigerians that we are most willing to embrace a robust relationship with everyone. We believe that religion should bring people together no matter the differences in the mode of worship. It should be humanity first. We are therefore prepared to coexist peacefully with our neighbours. The only proviso is that they should respect our right to freedom of worship. We should all live and let live. Worship and let me worship.


“As we round up, we call on the Vice Chancellor of FUPR, Effurum, to allow peace to reign on his campus. Let the Muslims go. Stop all forms of religious persecution. Allow the Muslims to observe Jum’ah service. We advise him to run an inclusive administration in the interest of peace and harmony. Other heads of public and private institutions in the country are advised to take a cue from this. Let us make our country a land of religious harmony as we all can never belong to the same faith”.


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


Monday, September 10, 2018

FG SHOULD GIVE NIGERIANS FREE MALARIA TREATMENT


10th September, 2018
HIJRAH MESSAGE:
FG SHOULD GIVE NIGERIANS FREE MALARIA TREATMENT


More than 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide will mark the new Islamic year tomorrow Tuesday, 11th September 2018 (i.e. 1st Muharram, 1440 Anno Hijrae).


In its Hijrah message, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) commended the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III for his visionary, dynamic and purposeful leadership. The organization also felicitated with leaders of Islamic organizations and the whole Muslim community in Nigeria on the occasion of the new Islamic year 1440.


In its core message, MURIC called attention to the malaria scourge which is causing a lot of havoc in the country, particularly among the poor, whose lives are wasted simply because they cannot afford even as little as five hundred naira (N500 only) to buy drugs at the early stage of the malaria symptom before their situation worsens.


According to Professor Ishaq Akintola who signed the Hijrah message, “Though malaria is not peculiar to Nigeria alone as it affects about 3.3 billion people or half of the world’s population in 106 countries, Nigeria’s case is pathetic because we have the money to give malaria a good fight but corruption, greed and avarice will not allow our leaders to allocate enough funds to the struggle.


“Just 1% of the Nigerian population arrogates 85% of the country’s wealth to themselves, leaving a paltry 15% of our wealth to the remaining 99% of the population. Nigeria is a monumental tragedy when it comes to the distribution of wealth. The budgetary allocation to the heath sector year after year falls short of the 15% recommended at the African Health Summit in Abuja more than ten years ago. Our lawmakers are not worried so long as they make part of the 1% of the population who are oppressing the hoi polloi.
 
“As a result of the lackadaisical and selfish attitude of the political class to public health care, malaria is now a risk for 97% of Nigeria's population. There are an estimated 100 million malaria cases in the country today. Malaria kills more than 300,000 poor people every year in this country and it contributes to an estimated 11% of maternal mortality”.


MURIC therefore appealed to the Federal Government of Nigeria (FG) to give Nigerians free malaria treatment.


“Before we round up, permit us to remind Nigerians that our organization requested that FG should declare Hijrah day as a holiday. This request was made on 3rd January, 2018. It was not the first time. MURIC and other Islamic organizations have been making this demand for decades but successive administrations continue to ignore the call.  


“We also issued a reminder statement last week Thursday 6th September, 2018 but nothing happened. FG kept mute. Several Islamic organizations also made the request last week. Yet there was no response. This same government will declare the first day of 2019 (1st January 2019) as a holiday to our chagrin.


“We are gradually making a case against FG. This country is heavily Christianised. The paraphanalia of government are being used to favour Christianity only. Muslims are ignored. It is treatments like this which cause disaffection. Muslims are not terrorists. We are using peaceful means to demand our Allah-given fundamental rights now but government continues to ignore us.


“It is the insistence of those in position of authority to continue on the path of deprivation and violation of the rights of Muslims which gives extremist elements the chance to vent their spleen. This is what often leads to violence. We assert that justice is the soul of peace. Nobody who denies one can get the other.


Finally, we call on FG to declare a new policy of free malaria treatment for all Nigerians. FG should also start working on modalities for declaring every first day of Muharram (Hijrah Day) a holiday in Nigeria as from 2019.

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

Thursday, September 6, 2018

FG SHOULD DECLARE HIJRAH DAY NEXT WEEK


6th September, 2018
PRESS RELEASE:
DECLARE HIJRAH DAY NEXT WEEK




The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria (FG) to declare Tuesday 11th September, 2018 as a public holiday in recognition of the first day of the Islamic calendar for the year 1440 AH (i.e. 1st Muharram, 1440 After Hijrah).




In a reminder statement signed by the director of the human rights organization, Professor Ishaq Akintola on Thursday, 6th September, 2018, MURIC contended that FG has been giving Nigerian Christians their own 1st January while ignoring the Muslims’ 1st Muharram. This, according to the group, is not fair.


“We still stand by our demand for the declaration of 1st Muharram as Hijrah Day. We remind FG of our press statement issued on January 3rd 2018 in which we called attention to FG’s declaration of 1st January every year as holiday for Nigerian Christians. We demanded recognition for 1st Muharram of every year for Muslims. 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.  


“Today’s reminder serves as a notice for the approach of 1st Muharram, 1440 AH which corresponds to Tuesday, 11th September (next week). Today is 26th Dhul Hijjah. Next Monday is 30th Dhul Hijjah (i.e. last day of 1439 AH) while the following day, Tuesday is 1st Muharram, 1440 AH i.e. the first day of the Islamic calendar.


“However, FG still needs to consult the leadership of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) for the confirmation of the date. MURIC has no mandate to identify any particular day. That power rests with the NSCIA. Our concern stops at spreading the Muslim liberation theology and sustaining the emancipation struggle until freedom is actualized.
   

“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.


“1st January is a Westo-Christian day and its recognition by FG is one of the reasons we allege that Nigeria is heavily Christianised. We want 1st Muharram of every year to be declared for Muslims too. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. FG must not be partial. Muslims have been making this demand for years but FG keeps ignoring them.

“What does this portend? Is FG telling us that Muslims do not matter in the scheme of things? Regime after regime turns deaf ears to our cries. Is it only violence and demonstrations that FG understands? We remind FG that conscious and deliberate peace-making is cheaper than running up and down in search of weapons to defeat insurgents.



“1st January is from the Gregorian calendar and the latter is a product of gymnastic make-belief and historic hocus-pocus that the British Christian colonialists imposed on Nigerian Muslims. This was after forcefully supplanting the Islamic calendar which had been in use in this country for 800 years before the advent of the British. It provides ample evidence of religious segregation and spiritual apartheid.


“For the sake of microscopic clarity, MURIC is not asking for the cancelation of 1st January whether it is in honour of Janus the Roman god of gates or for Ogun the Yoruba god of iron. Neither are we asking because the Islamic hijrah calendar is divine (Qur’an 9:36; 2:189; 10:5 and 17:12). We have no intention of taking what belongs to the Christians from them. Let the Christians continue to enjoy what they have been enjoying but give the Muslims their own too. That is fairness. All we are saying: Give Us Hijrah Day!


“A mental calculation of the total number of holidays enjoyed in Nigeria shows that they 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 the eight holidays belong to Christians (Christmas Day, Boxing Day, 1st January, Good Friday and Easter Monday).


“Only three (3) holidays belong to Muslims, 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?





“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.


“Permit us, therefore, to postulate that the declaration of every first day of the Islamic year as a holiday is one of the steps that FG should take towards deradicalisation. It will send a strong message to Sambisa that FG is addressing some of the grudges mentioned by Muslims. It may eventually lead to the surrender of large numbers of insurgents. It can be used by liberal Muslims to soften the hearts of elements of the extreme left. This is how nations seeking genuine integration win wars and not ordinary battles.


In summary, we remind FG that Nigerian Christians enjoy five different holidays while their Muslim counterparts have three only. In the spirit of fairness, equity and justice, FG needs to allow the dividends of democracy to reach Nigerian Muslims too by giving them 1st Muharram as holiday. This will only bring Muslim holidays to four while Christians continue to enjoy five. Next Tuesday, 11th September, 2018 (and every first day of the Islamic year) should therefore be declared a public holiday. 
 
 
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)