Friday, January 18, 2019

MURIC CAUTIONS ATIKU & OSHIOMOLE


19th January, 2019

PRESS RELEASE:
MURIC CAUTIONS ATIKU & OSHIOMOLE



The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has issued a stern warning to the former vice president and presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as well as the former governor of Edo State and chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Comrade Adams Oshiomole over what it described as ‘frivolous pronouncements’.


It will be recalled that Atiku Abubakar pledged to sell the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) if he becomes the president of Nigeria even if he would be killed for doing so. He was also quoted as saying that he would enrich his friends if elected president. On his own part, Oshiomole was widely quoted as saying, “once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven”.


In a statement issued on Saturday, 19th January, 2018 and signed by MURIC’s director and founder, Professor Ishaq Akintola, the Islamic human rights organisation cautioned the two politicians over pronouncements capable of raising fears or causing doubts among the populace.


According to Akintola, “These are weighty statements. They are unguarded. While the former vice president’s pledge to sell NNPC may be described as controversial and a mere policy statement, his reference to commitment even in the face of death is an extreme position while his promise to enrich his friends is capable of raising adrenalin among poor Nigerians.


“That statement is seen as far-reaching and pregnant with meanings. The fact that it was made at a gathering of the country’s business community means a lot. Is Atiku focusing on the rich at the expense of the hoi polloi? Are we going to witness a wider gap between the rich and the poor if he wins the election? Is it not going to be a case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer? What then is the fate of the jamaahiir (i.e. masses)? How can our common patrimony go to a few friends?


“What exactly does the APC chairman mean by declaring that sins are forgiven once the sinner joins his party? When did any Nigerian political party become a cleanser of iniquities? What kind of sins does APC forgive? Do such sins include wide-scale looting, fraud, economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, murder, political assassination, aiding, abetting and acting as godfather of armed robbers, etc? Is joining APC tantamount to atonement?


“The Muslim Rights Concern is concerned because as an Islamic human rights organisation protecting Allah-given fundamental rights of Muslims in particular and Nigerians in general, we cannot close our eyes to developments capable of increasing poverty among the poor or halting developmental projects and infrastructural development. Neither can we ignore statements or actions capable of debilitating the ongoing war against corruption.


“MURIC belongs to the poorest constituency in this country today as Muslims represent majority of the 80 million poverty-stricken Nigerians. We are concerned because the socio-economic statistics are frightening. The average Nigerian still lives on less than $1 dollar per day while the per capita income is still less than $300.


“Only 2% of Nigerians own 90% of total bank deposits. Only 1% of the Nigerian population controls 85% of the nation’s total wealth, leaving a paltry 15% for the remaining 99% to fight over! That is why there is social disharmony.


“Unfortunately MURIC’s constituency (the Nigerian Muslim population) constitute more than 70% of the 99% poorest Nigerians. Yet one politician is still talking about ‘enriching’ his friends and another one speaks of forgiving’ sinners once they join their party. Who cursed Nigeria for Allah’s sake?



“This is why MURIC is concerned. It is also the raison d’etre of our support for the war against corruption because the latter is the real cassu belli for poverty, illiteracy and widespread disease among the majority Muslim population. Our intervention which some Nigerians interpret wrongly as involvement in politics or partisanship is therefore a fight for the survival of this generation of Muslims. We look beyond politics.


“Whereas the present generation of Nigerians has been described as ‘a wasted generation’, we are constrained to describe Muslims in Nigeria today as a generation of almajiris going by the rate of poverty and squalor compared to their compatriots in other faiths. This is a verifiable claim. Whereas majority of adherents of other faiths are in white collar jobs, majority of Muslims are engaged in poor menial jobs like gatemen, bus conductors, drivers, and labourers. The Muslim names given to poor characters in Nigerian films and television drama perfectly exemplify this claim.


“This explanation is necessary so that Nigerians will understand where we are coming from and why we are solidly and unflinchingly in support of the war against graft. We are not looking at it with political lenses, rather it is about the liberation of millions of Muslims and other poor and oppressed Nigerians from the clutches of economic strangulation. We are concerned with how to eliminate corruption and raise the standard of living of the average Nigerian. Any political party which turns its attention to these key issues will therefore gain our support.


“This is why we find the statements accredited to these two politicians capable of raising the citizens’ adrenalin and we are constrained to issue this caveat emptor. Atiku and Oshiomole should note that those are no go areas. We reject them in their totality and we demand explanations from both of them”.



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




Thursday, January 17, 2019

CJN ONNOGHEN MUST FACE TRIAL


18th January, 2019

PRESS RELEASE:
CJN ONNOGHEN MUST FACE TRIAL


More than 45 legal luminaries represented the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Monday, 14th January 2019. The CJN himself was not in court. Onnoghen is facing allegation of false declaration of assets.


Meanwhile an Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has insisted that the CJN must face trial. According to the group, the evidence is too overwhelming and the onus is on the CJN to prove whether he did it or not. MURIC stated this in a statement issued on Friday, 18th January, 2019. The statement was signed by the director of the organization, Professor Ishaq Akintola.


“The question Nigerians want the CJN to answer is ‘Did you do it or not?’ He needs to clear himself. This grandstanding is not reassuring. We have lost faith in the CJN as the symbol of justice in this country. Instead of answering that simple question and defending himself at the CCT, the CJN is resorting to technical escapism.


“The ordinary man in the street may not know law, but he knows about morals. He can distinguish between decency and moral debauchery. He knows the difference between integrity and immorality. The CJN should know that this is not a matter for playing around with legal entanglements.


“He occupies a position of trust. The Nigerian people entrusted him with the whole judicial system. He has betrayed their trust. A million SANs defending him cannot prove otherwise unless he can convince us that those extremely scandalising lodgements were not in his bank accounts.


“He must step down because this issue is not about him personally but about his hallowed office and about Nigeria. It will continue to be a stain on the judiciary as long as he insists on remaining in office. He has to save that office by stepping down or staying put and staining it forever.





“Those who argue that the CJN should first appear before the National Judicial Council (NJC) have failed to realize that the composition of the NJC where more than 60% of the members were appointed by the same CJN makes that option illogical and unacceptable to the Nigerian people. The CJN is the chairman of the NJC and it is morally wrong for him to sit in judgment over his own case.


“Should we then say that every Nigerian worker who commits a criminal offence should first appear before the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)? Should we also rule that such a worker shall not appear in court unless NLC pronounces him guilty? Should every teacher be tried first by the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT)? Should every nurse who has a criminal case be tried first by the Nursing Council? What kind of protectionism is that? This is a policy that will never earn professionals a scintilla of respect from members of the public.   


“Why do you think the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) stood aside and allowed a whole professor to face a case of sex for marks and to go to jail without intervening? It is outstanding sense of decency. Your colleague is part of you as long as he observes the ethics of the profession. He must be allowed to face the music the moment he behaves unprofessionally. We must not get involved in unholy camaraderie.


“It is only in Nigeria that we insist that a known thief is being victimized because we worship in the same shrine. We threaten hell and brimstone that the country will be made ungovernable whenever our kleptomaniac kinsman is caught red-handed. We idolize the demons among us yet we expect things to work. We are suffering from massive pathological obfuscation of all sense of justice, fairness and equity.   


“As far as ordinary Nigerians are concerned, 45 SANs defending the CJN is meaningless to them because they know that what those SANs are out to achieve is to use the technicalities of law to shelter the CJN, being one of them. This is one of the major problems with us in Nigeria. If a thief is one of us, did he steal for us? Did we send him to go and steal? We must allow him to defend himself if we know nothing of his crime. The law profession is a noble one. We should not allow Nigerians to impugn the integrity of highly revered SANs.


“That courtroom show of numerical strength is sheer judicial intimidation. They were not out to prove that he did not do it. It was a show of impunity. Unfortunately Nigerians are more interested in whether he did it or not.  If he did it, he should quit. If he did not, we are not keen on punishing an innocent man. The honourable thing for the CJN to do therefore is to go to CCT and defend himself. We will take nothing less in the face of overwhelming evidence. Only those who have something to hide refuse to face trial.


“Neither do we have any modicum of respect for any individual, group or political party that stands up to rationalize massive stealing. It is interesting that the only political party that is showing interest in prosecuting the CJN over suspicion of judicial graft is the ruling party. It is equally interesting that the party’s main manifesto is fighting corruption.


The main opposition party appears to be on a familiar terrain in its defense of the CJN. It all boils down to one thing: Nigerians will be judged by whose interest they promote and by who they protect. It is either you stand with stealing and looting or you pitch your camp with decency and integrity  


However, if it is all about restoring faith in the judiciary and returning Nigeria to the comity of sane nations, we have no choice than to ask President Muhammadu Buhari to do everything within his power to ensure that the rule of law prevails. The president must protect poor Nigerians from the looting cabal.


If indeed Nigeria is practicing democracy, then nobody, including the CJN, must be above the law. Onnoghen must face trial at the CCT.


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


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

STOP MESSING UP WITH THE QUR’AN - MURIC TELLS POLITICAL PARTIES


17th January, 2019

PRESS RELEASE:
STOP MESSING UP WITH THE QUR’AN
-  MURIC TELLS POLITICAL PARTIES


A Muslim group has issued a warning to Nigeria’s prominent political parties to stop messing up with the divine book of Islam.


The warning was contained in a press release issued on Thursday, 17th January, 2019 by the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC). According to the Islamic human rights outfit, a certain “prominent” political party in the country is fond of using the Qur’an in its political rallies without following laid down rules. MURIC described this as laughable, provocative and totally unacceptable.



“Our office has been inundated with a Tsunami of complaints about a prominent political party that has been abusing the use of the Qur’an in its political rallies. Such an attitude exposes the political party as a body that is insensitive to the feelings of Muslims. It is laughable, provocative and totally unacceptable.


“Exempli gratia, we are in possession of a video clip in which a notorious lawmaker cum comedian who is obviously a non-Muslim recited the Surat Al-Fatihah (chapter one of the Glorious Qur’an) wrongly in one of the party’s rallies about two weeks ago. The question is why was a non-Muslim allowed to recite an Islamic prayer using verses of the Glorious Qur’an in a political rally?


“We don’t want to be misunderstood. Anybody can pray but decorum must be applied when doing that in public. It is most unwise for a non-Muslim to venture into praying in Arabic when he is not sure he can do it well. A Muslim should offer the Muslim prayer and vice versa. Prayer is a serious spiritual exercise. It is communication between the creature and the Creator. It is not something you can trivialize. But what we saw on that day was the transfer of the usual parliamentary theatricals that has been associated with the National Assembly in recent times.


“In another trending video, a woman was seen struggling with the recitation of Surat Ash-Sharh (Qur’an chapter 94) at another rally of the same political party. She ended it all by mixing up the verses and wordings.


“MURIC is not just raising false alarm or sounding unnecessarily demagogic. The fact is that the implications of reciting a verse or chapter of the Glorious Qur’an wrongly in an attempt to offer prayers are very serious. An inexperienced reciter may end up raining curses instead of offering prayers due to errors of pronounciation, wording or incorrect reading of verses. This can be terrible in a rally organized by a political party because instead of actually praying for the country and the political party, the person may end up inadvertently cursing the party and the country (may Allah forbid that).


“That is why political parties need to have religious advisers among its officials. Such religious advisers must be made up of qualified Christian and Islamic clerics. They are the ones who should be called upon to offer prayers in public programmes, not parliamentary rascals whose only value lies in their capacity to constitute public nuisance.


“We like to place it on record for public awareness that the rules guiding the recitation of Christian and Islamic scriptures are different and the yardsticks of one should not be used to judge the other. For instance, a person wishing to recite any portion of the Glorious Qur’an must first perform ablution. The rule is that you cannot read the Qur’an if you are not pure. The Qur’an itself set the rule when it says ‘Only those who are clean can touch it. It is a revelation from the Lord of the Worlds’ (Laa yamusuhu ilaa al-mutaharuun, tanziilun min Rabbil-aalamiin, Qur’an 56:79 - 80).


“The recitation made by the woman at that political event is also contentious from another angle. Apart from the fact that she may not have performed ablution, she may not be clean. She may be in her menstrual period and Islam does not permit women to do such things in that state. That is one of the reasons Muslim women are not usually called upon to read the Qur’an in public. She does not have to make her condition public and this may happen if she is so invited.


“In conclusion, we charge political parties to demonstrate seriousness in spiritual matters. We also advise political parties to consult their religious advisers before taking any step that has spiritual implication. We urge all churches and mosques to pray for a peaceful general election and a stable polity thereafter”.


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


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

MURIC HIGHLIGHTS THE DANGER IN JUDICIAL CORRUPTION


16th January, 2019

PRESS RELEASE:
MURIC HIGHLIGHTS THE DANGER IN JUDICIAL CORRUPTION


As the Federal Government asks the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, to vacate office and he is to face charges at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has highlighted the dangers inherent in judicial corruption.


The Islamic human rights organization highlighted the dangers in a statement released on Wednesday, 16th January, 2019. The statement was signed by its director and founder, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
 

 
Judicial corruption fuels impunity. It is the worst type of corruption because that is where we go when the system is corrupt. Any nation whose judicial system is led by corrupt judges is sitting on the precipice. Judicial corruption should not be tolerated in any sane society. It corrodes the rule of law. It is a cancerous tumour in any nation’s anatomy and any surgeon worth the salt will not hesitate to amputate a cancerous part of the body in order to save the rest.  
 
 
“Judicial corruption enthrones corrupt politicians in political offices. It robs hardworking, honest and credible politicians of well-deserved victory at the polls. Judicial corruption is the deadliest enemy of democracy. It debilitates the rule of law, renders equal rights unattainable and puts asunder any dream of an egalitarian society. Judiciary is the last hope of the common man and a corrupt judge dashes the hope of the ordinary citizen.

 
“A corrupt judiciary poses the most potent threat to crime fighters like policemen, anti-corruption agencies, anti-graft activists, human rights activists, etc. The efforts of these patriotic elements who put their lives on the line for the sake of society will be in vain if the judiciary is corrupt. Corrupt judges frustrate the efforts of crime fighters. A corrupt judiciary emboldens criminals and corrupt people as they always know that they can bribe their way out in court.


“Nobody can wipe out corruption where the judiciary itself is enmeshed in dirty deals. It is like pouring water inside a basket in an attempt to fill it up. A hundred bucketfuls cannot achieve that. That is why MURIC is sounding this note of warning. Allow FG to handle the case of the CJN now before it infects the whole system.


“Something is wrong with us as a people if we want to defend a chief judge who made five different cash deposits of $10,000 each into Standard Chartered Bank Account 1062650 on 8th March 2011; made two separate cash deposits of $5000 each on 7th June 2011 followed by four cash deposits of $10,000 each on the same day. Again on 27th June 2011, Justice Onnoghen made another set of five separate cash deposits of $10,000 each and made four more cash deposits of $10,000 each on the following day, 28th June 2011. Are the rest of us who are poor Nigerians created to shine his shoes and lick his boots?


“MURIC is concerned because Islam abhors materialism. What is a judge doing with so much money when 80 million fellow citizens are wallowing in abject penury? Can we take any accumulated wealth to the grave? Do we know when our time will be up? Where are those before us who stole all the milk and honey in the land?


The Muslim Rights Concern is concerned because even if all public office holders are accumulating wealth unjustly, the chief judge of the land must be above board like Caesar’s wife. The Qur’an says all the wealth in this world cannot make a man live forever (104:1-9; 102:1-8). Umar bin Khattab insisted that governors appointed by him must declare their assets immediately they are appointed and immediately after leaving office.


All these are allegations made in the petition written against him by a lawyer human rights activist and instead of the judge to deny them he claims to have forgotten to declare them in his asset declaration. If ignorance of the law is no excuse, what do we call this claim of forgetfulness made by the numero uno lawman of the federation? Justice Onnoghen should resign immediately if there is any decency left in him.  


This is definitely not the ideal symbol of justice a nation can be proud of. We are making a mockery of the bench if high-ranking lawyers bend over backwards to defend the indefensible in this case. We seem to be unable to face the truth in this society. Other countries are making progress by punishing corrupt judges. Who did this to Nigeria?


“In China, Huang Songyou, a former Chinese supreme court judge was jailed for life after being convicted of embezzlement and receiving nearly £500,000 in bribes. Another judge, Wang Suyi was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for bribery.  Indonesia's corruption court sentenced one of the country's top judges to eight years in prison for taking bribes in January 2017.

“In Pakistan, a five-member panel of judges ruled that Justice Patrialis Akbar was guilty of receiving thousands of dollars from a meat importer to influence the outcome of a judicial review of the law on animal husbandry. Mark Ciavarella, a corrupt judge in the United States was sent to 28 years in June 2018 for selling kids to private prisons while Munir Patel, an ordinary British court clerk was sentenced to four years in prison in 2011 for receiving £100,000 bribe because Britain will not stomach corruption in its criminal justice system.


“The choice is ours, whether to deal decisively with corrupt judges in order to instill discipline in the judiciary or to allow tribal jingoism, acrobatic religiousity and articulated political sentiment to override our objectivity.


For the avoidance of doubts, we assert clearly, categorically and unequivocally that MURIC will continue to support this regime not because the president is a Muslim (he is not the only Muslim candidate anyway) or because of his political leaning but because the president has unassailable integrity and because this is the only regime that has made fighting corruption its cardinal focus.


“We are also not unaware of the personal risks involved, they are simply part of the hazards of human rights activism. We are prepared to do even more in the interest of our dear country and in defense of Allah-given fundamental human rights of Nigerian Muslims and the rest of its citizens.


On a last note, we reiterate that Justice Onnoghen is a clog in the wheel of justice. Wailers should allow the law to take its due course. It is most dangerous for Nigeria to approach a general election with a jaundiced judicial system. The Nigerian people have lost confidence in him. He should resign without delay”.
  

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