Monday, June 18, 2018

MURIC CHALLENGES CAN TO ENDORSE OR DISOWN ANTI-MUSLIM VIDEO


19th June, 2018
PRESS RELEASE:
MURIC CHALLENGES CAN TO ENDORSE
OR DISOWN ANTI-MUSLIM VIDEO


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has strongly condemned a video clip of a Christian congregation in which the pastor is urging his audience not to vote for Muslim candidates. The group described the video, which has gone viral, as divisive, parochial and archaic.

In a statement signed by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, the human rights group said a pastor could be heard in the video telling his congregation inter alia, “2019 will be the deciding year. We must wake up. We will not use our hands to vote for people who will kill us. We will not vote for people who have value for cows than value for life…You can be in any party of your choice but don’t vote for anyone who is against your faith. Don’t vote for anyone who will forget your vote and slaughter your neck.”

MURIC said it was miffed that a section of Nigeria, nay, an Abrahamic faith could be planning something as heinous.

Continuing, the group said, “It is as conservative as it is unpragmatic and as reactionary as it is ludicrous. Although suspicion has been rife for some time that something like this was going on, it is only recently that concrete evidence has been obtained. We have the video. It cannot be denied. What is certain, however, is that this church is not the only one involved. The anti-Muslim campaign is being actively promoted in almost all churches. It just happened that only one was caught.

“We are constrained to put the records straight now that Muslims are being portrayed as killers by Nigerian artists and the Nigerian church. Just one example should suffice for economy of space. In spite of all the noise made about Muslims killing Christians, none of the five killers arrested over the gruesome murder of two Catholic bishops and church members in Benue is a Muslim: David Akenawe, Agada Tsesaa, Tarza Orvanya, Manga Husseini, and Ngyohov Shin are all Christians and members of the notorious Benue militia. But we are not surprised that the Nigeria media ignored this Breaking News.”



MURIC therefore challenged the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to either endorse or disown the video and its contents, saying, “We have no other option than to openly ask the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) if it is behind this move. Is CAN leadership aware of this segregational campaign? Did CAN initiate it or did it just endorse it? Should we also believe rumours of CAN’s surreptitious meetings with high ranking foreign diplomats in unholy hours of the day? Is CAN aware of the security implications of such meetings? Is CAN with Nigeria or against Nigeria? Et tu CAN? It had better not be.

“What kind of people are we that we continue to drag ourselves backwards while the rest of the world is going forward? Election campaign should be issue-based. Religion is not given any room in politics in other climes. Why should we be looking at the faith of a candidate and not his pedigree, his integrity and his antecedence?

It is a pity that CAN still pushes primordial sentiment like religion to the front burner when advanced countries only consider credibility and ability to deliver. Why is it that CAN cannot tolerate Muslim leadership after Muslims have tolerated Christian leadership for so long?”

The Islamic human rights outfit also wondered why Muslims should not be allowed to rule for the same long period that Christians have been in office.

“It is on record that of the 16 wasted years of PDP rule, a Muslim (former President Umaru Yaradua) only ruled for two years and he died in office. Christians ruled for 14 years (ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo: 8 years and Goodluck Jonathan: 6 years). So why can’t you live and let live?”

MURIC contended that the idea of Christians voting for Christians only in order to elect a Christian president is unrealistic.

“Even as divisive and destructive as it is, the idea of Christians voting for Christians only still remains na├»ve and utopia. Who told CAN that it can install a Christian president with an all-Christian vote? It is a mirage. CAN is day-dreaming. What if Muslims also ask their fellow Muslims not to vote for any Christian candidate? What do you think will happen? But we will not descend so low. We will not ask Muslims not to vote for Christian candidates. Whoever is behind this video and the anti-Muslim campaign in general is promoting anarchy.”

The organization argued that Nigeria is a heterogeneous, multi-religious and multi-cultural project which belongs to nobody and it is bigger than any section. For any progress to be made, Muslims and Christians as well as all ethnic groups, it said, have to sink their differences. “We all have to work together. Nigeria is a wrong candidate for ‘possessing your possession’ slogans.”

Akintola admitted that Nigeria is blessed with good Christian candidates and credible Muslim candidates. He urged Nigerians to create an enabling environment for the emergence of such good candidates. Narrowing the search to any particular religion or ethnic group, he argued, is not only self-defeating but also counter-productive.

Concluding, the group said it did not believe in religious politics. “In a nutshell, we reiterate our conviction that we do not believe in religious politics. We Muslims are prepared to peacefully coexist with our Christian neighbours in Nigeria. We urge Muslims to get their PVC and vote for both Christian and Muslim candidates of their choice. The only proviso is that such candidates must be reformers and game changers, not looters, kleptomaniacs and politicians in the daytime but armed robbers at night.”

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

Thursday, June 14, 2018

ID AL-FITR MESSAGE: SET THE 54 SOLDIERS FREE


14th June, 2018
ID AL-FITR MESSAGE:
SET THE 54 SOLDIERS FREE

The  Federal Government (FG) has declared tomorrow Friday 15th June and Monday, 17th June 2018 as holiday to mark the end of Ramadan 2018 (1439 AH).        

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) felicitates with the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, CFR, mni on this auspicious occasion. We also congratulate the Nigerian Muslim Ummah and the entire Nigerian citizenry for successfully observing this year’s Ramadan.

The month of Ramadan is, essentially, the month of mercy. Its beginning is a blessing, its middle is for forgiveness while its end is freedom. A fortiori, MURIC reminds President Muhammadu Buhari of the plight of the 54 soldiers who were imprisoned for refusing to fight Boko Haram insurgents with poor weapons.

They were sentenced to life imprisonment ab initio before the sentence was commuted to ten years imprisonment. MURIC sees the 54 soldiers as whistle-blowers, not criminals because they actually exposed the $2.1 billion arms fraud. It is a sad paradox that while other whistle-blowers are being rewarded, the 54 soldiers are languishing in jail. This is frustrating.


In the spirit of the forgiveness and freedom which the middle and end of Ramadan stand for, we appeal to Mr. President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to, in exercise of the prerogative of mercy, grant presidential pardon to the 54 soldiers.


We call on civil society, particularly anti-corruption crusaders to speak out for the 54 soldiers. We also remind state governors and state chief judges to use the occasion to visit prisons in their states with a view to setting free a large number of inmates particularly those awaiting trial.


Finally, we charge Nigerian Muslims to use the occasion of the Id Al-Fitr to pray fervently for President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) and the Nigerian nation. Prayer points should include divine protection for PMB, triumph over all forces lined up against him and another four-year tenure of peace, prosperity and progress.  

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

Sunday, June 10, 2018

MURIC TO TAKE FALZ CASE TO APPROPRIATE AGENCIES


10th June, 2018
PRESS RELEASE:
MURIC TO TAKE FALZ CASE TO APPROPRIATE AGENCIES

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) last week resolved to sue Folarin Falana (Falz the Bahd Guy), a Nigerian artist, who produced the video song titled ‘This is Nigeria’ in which a Fulani man was seen beheading somebody. The video also featured hijab-wearing female choreographers dancing the ‘shaku-shaku’ (a dance associated with drug). A seven-day ultimatum was given for the withdrawal of the video and an apology failing which a legal tussle would be launched.

Our office has since been inundated with solidarity visits, while our telephone lines have been flooded with a deluge of calls from members, friends, well-wishers, journalists and other concerned Nigerians, majority of whom are of the Islamic faith.

In view of the intervention of these well-meaning Nigerians, counseling from several quarters and commitments given by us to those who interfaced with us on this matter, an emergency meeting of MURIC’s Think-Tank was convened on Sunday, June 10, 2018 to review the situation.

In deference to pleas made by well-meaning Nigerians, in order to keep faith with our avowed motto (Dialogue, Not Violence) and to further confirm that MURIC is a listening, mature and responsible organization committed to promoting peace in Nigeria, the Think-Tank resolved to drag the artist to government agencies saddled with the responsibility of censoring films and videos. It is not a U-turn but a sudden change in tactics.

This will have a more enduring impact not only on Falz but the entire entertainment industry. It will also make the agencies sit up to their responsibilities and inject a huge dose of discipline in the music and film industries in general.

MURIC expresses deep appreciation to its members nation-wide, particularly Muslim lawyers who volunteered to take up the case gratis, leaders of Islamic organizations across the country who offered their solidarity as well as senior civil servants who shared their rich experiences with us.

Although he stopped short of apologizing, the artist has tried to clear himself in published interviews made available to us. According to him, he did not intend to ridicule Muslims. He said his intention was to call attention to the plight of the Chibok girls although we think he has done that the wrong way.

A scene in the video in which the ‘Chibok girls’ are in pensive mood would have been more representative of the reality on ground because kidnapped girls cannot be dancing like people under the influence of drug. They are in captivity and so they have no cause under the sun for jubilating.

Again, the Fulanis (Muslims) were painted as killers while Benue militias (Christians) who rustle Fulani cattles and slaughter their wives and children were not featured. This is grossly unfair. Falz should find a way of balancing his video. The kidnappers of the South East (also Christians) were spared while the oil saboteurs of the Niger Delta (Christians too) were ignored. Falz video is loaded with Islamophobia. That video should be titled ‘This is not Nigeria’. It is Islam-bashing. Nigeria’s video regulatory agency should therefore ban the video or ask the artist to edit it properly.    

With this latest development and even before the seven-day ultimatum expires, MURIC is no longer contemplating court action against Falz, neither are we demanding any apology from him or his management. The likely pecuniary gain in the event of a court validation of our claims does not interest us. We are no longer looking at Falz but at a larger picture.

The courts will only be interested in legalities, judiciability and technicalities but the video board will look beyond all that. Is it professional? Is it balanced? Is it truly representative of our country? Is it morally justifiable? These are what will interest the board and they are in tandem with our thinking. We appreciate artists and our aim is not to punish Falz. He is not a lazy Nigerian youth.

The matter will now go to those government agencies who are supposed to do their jobs in the first place. Instead of creating media tension and granting cheap popularity, this matter will now be handled by professionals who know what to do.

Our emphasis is going to be mainly on the portrayal of Fulanis as killers in the video with the concomitant ugly perception it is likely to create among Nigerians as well as its bandwagon effect on the image of Muslims in general. This is one area Falz has not been able to explain away, yet he refused to apologise. That aspect of the video would have been edited had the censorship agencies done what was expected of them or if Falz had followed due process.

In the interest of peace, law and order, we are calling on the National Film And Video Censors Board (NFVCB) to take up the matter from this moment. Although MURIC will still do a followup with an official petition, we expect the board to have begun its independent investigations on the matter particularly with the furore generated by the issue.

In a nutshell, we insist that Falz video “This is Nigeria” is offensive and provocative. It portrays Fulanis (and Nigerian Muslims) as killers. It is capable of igniting crisis and precipitating a general breakdown of law and order. The video board must therefore do the needful.

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