Wednesday, March 14, 2018
15th March, 2018
FAILED PUBLIC HEARING: MURIC SUSPECTS FOUL PLAY
The public hearing organized by the House Committee on Judiciary and Justice failed to hold for the second time yesterday, Wednesday 14th March, 2018. Although several Muslim groups appeared for the purported hearing, they were disappointed as the chairman of the committee, Hon. Razaq Atunwa, explained that an interlocutory injunction seeking to stop the hearing had been served on the committee.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) condemns this development. Apart from being highly provocative, it is saddening, nauseating and appalling. It is an attempt to manipulate the course of justice, a rape of democracy and a travesty of justice. But above all, it is an attempt to make a mockery of the legislature.
It will be recalled that the same committee had slated the hearing for Tuesday, 6th February, 2018 but even this first hearing was halted few hours to the event because, according to the committee chairman, “The body of Benchers was to deliberate on the matter on 8th February”.
MURIC strongly denounces this delay tactics. Justice delayed is justice denied. The authors of the injunction are up to sinister objectives. They want to gag Muslims from airing their own side of the story. They know that the Law School has erred by depriving Firdaus Amasa her right to call to bar just because she refused to remove her hijab.
The decision of the committee to call off yesterday’s public hearing makes a mockery of the principle of the separation of power. It is another colossal waste of resources and manpower. The committee places advertisements each time a date is fixed for this public hearing but ends up doing nothing.
Is this not a hocus pocus? Several stakeholders travelled to Abuja from distant places like Port Harcourt, Kano, Lagos, Maiduguri, etc. They had to arrive since Tuesday in order to attend the 10 am public hearing. They wasted money on air tickets and hotel accommodation. They also wasted man-hour that could otherwise have been used on other productive ventures and not phantom public hearings.
Getting to the venue per se was another Herculean task as we had a running battle with National Assembly policemen who refused to allow entry. Yet we were told that there would be no public hearing after sitting for almost one hour. It is sad, very sad. The average Nigerian has lost confidence in the judicial system. Who did this to Nigeria?
MURIC asserts that the judiciary is Nigeria’s numero uno problem. Get the judiciary right and everything else will fall into place. Laughable, kindergarten and contradictory injunctions are granted without proper consideration. A large number of such injunctions in Nigerian courts are long in imbecility but short in professionalism. The judiciary appears clumsy and uncoordinated. The Nigerian Judicial Council is therefore advised to clean up its constituency.
In the light of this ugly development, we call on the House Committee on Judiciary and Justice to study the 87 memoranda which the committee chairman admitted that it had been submitted to it with a view to using them to take an informed position on the matter at stake since there is no guarantee that any future public hearing on it will not be truncated with another injunction from enemies of justice and haters of truth.
As we round up, we appeal to Muslims all over the country to remain calm and law abiding. It is evident that concerted efforts are being made to provoke them but it behoves them as followers of the Prophet of peace to shun violence and all acts capable of breaching public peace.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
13th March, 2018
ALMAJIRI: NORTHERN GOVERNORS MUST ACT NOW
The number of children involved in the al-majiri system has been rated at over ten million. Recent studies have revealed that kids metamorphose from this ugly phenomenon to members of street gangs. It is strongly suspected that many al-majiri children are now commanders in the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) frowns at the poorly arranged educational system which resulted in the al-majiri syndrome. It is escapist, pernicious, retrogressive, counter-productive and inhuman.
Al-majiri as practiced in Northern Nigeria today is a bastardisation of the Islamic education system. Although the word is originally from ‘al-muhajirun’, i.e. migrants, a reference to the early Muslims who followed Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from Makkah to seek refuge in Madinah in 622 C.E., it is now used to refer to child beggars. These are children whose parents gave them out to teachers to learn the rudiments of Islam.
Unfortunately the system has bread poverty, homelessness and hopelessness. It has produced a fi sabilillahi mentality plus an army of vagabonds and a battalion of bowl-carrying kids always roaming the streets aimlessly. It ends up breeding hunger, squalor and the resultant disease.
For example, in places like Azare, Bauchi, al-majiris tie bowls to their clothes and beg for just anything, anything at all. In places like Maiduguri, Borno State, they offer to carry bags for strangers and they are ready to assist in doing house chores for a whole day once a meal is guaranteed. Older al-majiris in Maiduguri area sell sachet water while some do scavenging and sell whatever they find to recyclers.
In thunder, rain and flood, al-majiri children crowd up in open spaces to spend the night. The few who find shelter share single mosquito-infested rooms with scores of others. They are prone to all sorts of contagious diseases. Their personal safety cannot be guaranteed and many fall into the hands of bad gangs, e.g, the notorious Yandaba boys of Kano.
MURIC strongly condemns this obnoxious system. It cannot be called Islamic education in any sense as the focus of the children involved is fully on begging, searching for food and making a living. It makes mockery of the institution of parenthood as envisaged in Islam.
The Qur’an commands parents to take charge of the educational, social and economic responsibilities of their children from infancy till they reach the age of full maturity and capability. This age is forty years (Qur’an 2:233 and 46:15). It is therefore the height of abdication of parental responsibility to give out children to Islamic teachers without caring for the needs of such children and without paying the teachers for their services. No wonder the teachers end up exploiting the children for their personal needs.
MURIC exhorts Northern governors to come up with a master plan capable of resolving the al-majiri debacle once and for all. This plan should take cognizance of the need for a census of all those involved in the system, buildings to be used as hostels, modern structures to be used as schools, adequate remuneration for the Islamic teachers, free feeding and capacity building for the kids, etc.
While we commend the Jonathan administration for building al-Majiri schools in some parts of the North, Northern governors must be held responsible both for the misuse and disuse of those structures. Most of the al-majiri schools are lying fallow today while some have been converted to other uses. This is most unfortunate. The Buhari administration must also intervene by initiating a special project for the almajiranci.
In the final analysis, the blame rests squarely on Northern politicians dead and alive for failing to see the threat coming and for their inability to evolve a means of combating it and bringing it to a halt. It may have been callous and myopic, but the present crop of politicians must not repeat the mistakes of history. Al-majiris must be reined in if the North really wants Boko Haram and gangsterism to become history.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Sunday, March 11, 2018
12th March, 2018
MURIC DEMANDS ACTION ON CALL TO BAR SAGA
Amasa Firdaus was barred from call to bar ceremony of the School of Law on Wednesday, 13th December, 2017 because she refused to remove her hijab. The Tsunami of condemnations which followed this unjust treatment forced the House of Representatives to assign its Committee on Judiciary and Justice to investigate the matter.
However, a public hearing slated by the latter for Tuesday 6th February was suddenly postponed after a coalition of legal practitioners sought the courts intervention in stopping the public hearing. Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on 28th February restrained the House of representatives from holding the public hearing. Nothing has been heard since.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is horrified by the deafening silence coming from the House of representatives particularly after the court granted the injunction seeking to stop the public hearing.
We are palpably appalled by the seeming lack of a political will on the part of the representatives of the people to pursue the course of justice. The court merely stopped the public hearing. It did not stop the House from continuing other investigations. It did not stop the House from taking a position. So what is the House afraid of? What are the people’s representatives waiting for?
It is interesting to note that the House Committee on Judiciary and Justice had called for and received a large number of memoranda on the matter prior to the date fixed for public hearing. MURIC was one of several Islamic organizations which submitted memoranda to the committee. We submitted one by courier from Lagos and traveled to Abuja to submit another. The question is, “What has happened to all the memoranda?” It is our considered opinion that the huge volume of memoranda received by the House is enough to guide it in taking a decision on this crucial matter. Justice delayed is justice denied.
We are flabbergasted by the inaction of the House and its inexplicable procrastination. We are shocked to our marrows that a House which parades renowned activists cannot see the need to rise in defence of a poor, innocent and vulnerable feminine creature of the Adamic chromosome. We are disappointed that even the female members of the House cannot stand up to be counted in the struggle to get justice for Amasa Firdaus, the young, bold and vibrant Amazon of our time.
Amasa Firdaus must get justice. She has challenged an unjust status quo at a time many of us are succumbing to tyranny, oppression and persecution. The fact that a young lady has cried out in the midst of excruciating silence and in the face of repression should arouse the curiousity of women in the Green Chamber. The courage manifested by Firdaus should jog the chivalry in the veins of valiant men in the House.
Yet here again lies the anatomy of religious crisis, particularly those accompanied by violence and terrorism. Frustration often leads people to react when those in authority fail to address acts of injustice. We affirm clearly, categorically and unequivocally that justice is the soul of peace. There is a symbiotic connection between justice and peace to the extent that any society that fails to give justice will never have peace. No matter how hard they may try, deniers of one will never have the other.
Allah-given fundamental right of a Muslim lady was violated four months ago and our lawmakers are foot-dragging. Amasa’s mates who were called to bar on that fateful day are now working and earning a living in some law firms in the country. The hope of Amasa’s old parents that their daughter would soon start taking care of them is dashed. They had laboured in loco parentis under a hard economic situation to sponsor her through an expensive university education.
Who did this to Nigeria? If we are sincere about the pledge in our national anthem that “the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain”, why are we wasting the labour of our young ones, the leaders of tomorrow? Can’t we realize that Amasa Firdaus is a product of the labour of our heroes past? We claim to be encouraging female education but here we are frustrating the attainment of the educational goal of a female who has satisfied all righteousness.
MURIC demands action. We are counting the days. It is not in our character to issue threats. Neither do we subscribe to issuing ultimatum. But let nobody blame Muslims when they start peaceful demonstrations in the coming weeks. Let no one accuse Muslims of coming out on the streets. We will defend our sister if the authorities fail to act. We will use every legitimate means possible to get justice for Amasa Firdaus, the Muslim Amazon of our time.
In our concluding remarks, we contend that if, according to Martin Luther, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, then injustice to Amasa Firdaus is a threat to justice all over the world.
We therefore charge all lovers of freedom of expression, all champions of liberty, all promoters of women education and all those who oppose discrimination against women in all parts of the globe to identify with the case of Amasa Firdaus. We call on people of good conscience in Nigeria, Britain, America, France and elsewhere to prepare for non-violent agitations and peaceful demonstrations in the coming days.
State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria are advised to expect petitions and peaceful protesters. Muslim women, particularly in Nigeria, are reminded of the role which history has placed on their shoulders on this matter. Posterity will not forgive those who abdicate their responsibilities whether as lawmakers, non-governmental organizations or women groups. We should not rest until #JusticeforFirdaus becomes a fait accompli.
Nonetheless, MURIC issues a caveat emptor: no participant in this legitimate struggle must resort to violence of any type. True to our avowed motto, ‘Dialogue, Not Violence’, we are peace-loving, law-abiding and dialogue-prone. We detest violence and condemn terrorism. We are middle-roaders and socio-intellectual jihadists seeking freedom for the oppressed, food for the hungry, healing for the sick, clothing apparels for the naked and shelter for the homeless.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Monday, March 5, 2018
7th March, 2018
BILL REORDERING ELECTION SEQUENCE IS BELATED
The Nigerian National Assembly (NASS) recently reordered the election sequence which has been in operation in the country since 1999. In the new bill, NASS wants the national exercise which has always started with the presidential election, to start with elections into the NASS.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) roundly rejects the proposed amendment of election sequence. It is belated, parochial, myopic, self-seeking, extravagant and unpatriotic. The bill is an attempt to usurp functions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and intimidate the electoral body. Reordering is a threat to democracy. It is a bill from hell. Mr. President should withhold his signature.
By seeking to kick-start the elections with that of the NASS, Nigeria’s lawmakers have demonstrated their intention to call attention to themselves. They are therefore more interested in benefiting themselves instead of benefiting the country. At a time the country is reeling under a harsh economic situation, a proposal which extends the election from two-phases to three phases and adds an extra cost amounting to a whopping two billion naira is nothing short of a manifestation of a prodigal son mentality.
Nigerians should think about what this extra N2 billion can do for the country. The Federal Government recently confirmed that it pumped N2 billion into the second Niger Bridge. It has been observed that Nigerians spend three out of every ten years in traffic. Now, instead of wasting more money on changing the election sequence, why can’t we spend that N2 billion on building at least one pedestrian bridge in every Nigerian state capital? It will bring huge relief to road users and extend the life span of the average Nigerian. Unfortunately Nigerian lawmakers are only thinking of themselves.
INEC released the election timetable on 9th January. Coming long after INEC had released the election time table, the proposed change in election sequence is bound to throw up logistic complications for INEC. Logistics is central to elections. Planning must be done with microscopic accuracy. Every little detail matters. Again, INEC should have been consulted before proposing the bill but our lawmakers failed to do that. The proposal should have come twelve months earlier, long before INEC released its own timetable. Why did the NASS wait for so long? Is there a hidden agenda?
Who do we blame if more hitches surface during elections? Can we hang it on the same INEC which has rejected proposed change? Already, INEC has warned that a poorly planned election is an invitation to chaos. Nigeria will become the laughing stock of the whole world if that should happen. This bill must therefore be seen as the handiwork of confusionists and anarchists.
It must also be noted that the proposed reordering of election sequence violates the letter and spirit of the Electoral Act which gives INEC the sole power to organize elections and fix dates.
In conclusion, we call on President Buhari to reject the bill on the grounds that it is belated, illegal, wasteful, illogical and capable of worsening electoral tension. Reordering the election sequence is also a threat to democracy and an attempt to undermine the independence of INEC.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)