Sunday, July 12, 2020
13th July, 2020
MURIC TO SAHARA REPORTERS: PANTAMI DESERVES APOLOGY
Popular Nigerian tabloid, Sahara Reporters, recently published a story in which it alleged that the Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, has purchased three houses within the period that he became a minister. The Minister last week denied the allegation with solid facts but nothing has been heard from the newspaper after the minister’s rebuttal.
Meanwhile an Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has declared that the minister deserves an apology for the wrong accusation.
MURIC said, “Sahara Reporters recently accused Dr. Ali Isa Pantami of purchasing three houses within the period that he became a minister. This is a highly defamatory and malicious allegation. But the honourable minister has debunked the allegation with indubitable evidence. We are not aware of any other development in the matter to date.
“The Muslim Rights Concern is deeply concerned that Sahara Reporters has picked on an innocent Islamic scholar of international reputation for yellow journalism. Minister Pantami is a rare product of Islamic scholarship. We are proud of him and we frown at any attempt to stain his name.
“The fact that many Nigerians go into politics and hold public office for ulterior motives does not mean that all Nigerians are thieves. There are still a large number of honest Nigerians at home and in diaspora. We have no scinttila of doubt that Dr. Pantami stands tall among the latter group.
“We have remained quiet all this while hoping that Sahara Reporters would withdraw its statement particularly after the minister had successfully defended himself. Facts are known to be sacred in journalism and we expect the newspaper to restrict itself to facts only. We know that the press is powerful but no media house has the moral right to abuse that power.
“It is our honest belief that Minister Pantami has been wronged by Sahara Reporters. He deserves an apology. Therefore the newspaper should do the needful otherwise it will lose the respect of the general public.
“MURIC appeals to the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to take necessary steps towards ensuring that journalists uphold the ethics of the profession. Freedom from malicious damage is the fundamental right of every citizen and NUJ has a duty to protect innocent citizens from antagonistic journalism.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Friday, July 10, 2020
10th July, 2020
MAKINDE’S RESPONSE TO MURIC IS ESCAPIST, DECEITFUL
The government of Oyo State yesterday reacted to the allegation of lopsidedness in appointments into governing councils made by an Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC). Speaking yesterday (Thursday 9th July, 2020) through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, Governor Seyi Makinde denied sidelining Muslims of Oyo State. He said the Director of MURIC did not get his facts right before making the allegation.
But in a statement sent to media houses on Friday, 10th July, 2020, the Director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, fired back at the state government. He described the governor’s response as escapist and deceitful.
MURIC said, “We are greatly amused by Governor Makinde’s response which was issued yesterday. His reaction is, at best, escapist, deceitful and pedestrian. Makinde is not sincere with Oyo Muslims. Discerning Nigerians can see how he dodged the issue of appointment of chairmen raised by MURIC and went instead to membership razzmatazz.
“We accused him of appointing six chairmen among whom there is only one Muslim. The rest are Christians. Instead of addressing the issue of chairmen, he delved into the issue of board members. That is executive escapism. The real issue is how many chairmanship positions did he give the Muslims? How many did he give the Christians? Nigerians are not so naïve. They know who holds the ace. Is it the chairman or the ordinary member who is a mere spare tyre? Power lies with the chairman. He is tangential. The member is just on the periphery. Makinde is playing politics with the welfare of Oyo Muslims.
“He also sidestepped the issue of appointment of commissioners raised by MURIC. We alleged that the governor appointed fourteen (14) commissioners but he only deemed four (4) Muslims fit for that position. He gave the Christians ten (10). This is despite the fact that Muslims are the majority in the state. So why couldn’t Makinde say something about his commissioners in his response? The governor has been too clever by half.
“Seyi Makinde also evaded the issue of his extravagant jamboree during the Christmas of December 2019 without a corresponding recognition of the Muslim festival marked four months earlier. This is public money and tax payers have the right to ask questions, particularly when one religion is being treated as the official faith of the state. Is Makinde going the Wike way? Is Oyo State a Christian state too?
“The fact that the governor came out to twist facts, distort history and accuse MURIC of failing to get its facts right before making allegations shows that Makinde is not remorseful. Yet nothing is worse than an unrepentant oppressor because he will do it again.
“For the purpose of microscopic clarity, we affirm that MURIC has nothing personal against Governor Makinde. Not even for being a Christian. We believe that a state like Oyo can be ruled either by a Muslim or a Christian. We are not allergic to a Christian ruling Nigeria. Whether a leader is a Christian or Muslim is immaterial. What is important is credibility, competence, integrity and equity.
“The Muslims of Oyo State are also sons and daughters of Oduduwa like their Christian counterparts. Something is wrong if they cannot get the same treatment like the Christians. Something is wrong if Yoruba female Muslim students in Oduduwaland suffer stigmatization. Something is not right if jobs are reserved for Christian applicants alone.
“It makes a mockery of the so called religious tolerance in Yorubaland and any mention of an Oduduwa Republic must send shivers of worse treatment for Muslims in an Oduduwa enclave. The governor of Oyo State can do better by treating the children of Oduduwa equally without favouring the Christians among them alone. That is when people in the region can speak with one voice.
“It is equally didactic that MURIC was not the only Muslim group that accused Makinde of marginalization. The Oyo State branch of the Political Awareness Group (PAG) also made the same allegation in a press release issued on the same day that MURIC’s statement was circulated. PAG’s statement which was dated 9th July, 2020 was signed by its state secretary, Honourable Abbas Ademola Busari. It is instructive that PAG is for good governance, equity and justice. The fact that the Oyo State branch spoke up shows that it is on ground and knows what is happening. So what else can Seyi Makinde say? Is PAG also day-dreaming like MURIC?
“Engineer Seyi Makinde is in dire need of re-engineering his administrative architecture. He has tilted too much to the Christian side. He should stop giving lame excuses. He can avoid a ding-dong between the Oyo State Government and MURIC. All he has to do is to address the real issues raised by us.
“Makinde can set his damage-control machinery in motion, for instance, by giving more Muslims chairmanship positions in other boards even without removing the Christians he has already appointed. He can also ensure that the post of commissioners are equally shared between adherents of the two faiths in his next cabinet reshuffle.
“Another example is the Id al-Kabiir (Ileya) that is just three weeks away. The governor can distribute Salah palliatives to the citizens two or three days before the Muslim festival to identify with the spirit of the Salah. We have no phobia for government celebrating Christian festivals but the same generous gesture should be extended to Muslim festivals as well in the interest of justice and fairplay. Have we asked for too much?
“Islam frowns on vindictiveness, therefore MURIC is not vengeful. We are in human rights with malice towards none, with charity for all. The well-being of our Christian neighbour is in our best interest for it takes nothing away from our own wellness. The sky is wide enough for all birds to fly. Our philosophy is live and let live. All we are after is a better Oyo State. We will continue to promote peaceful coexistence within the context of mutual respect. Let Engineer Seyi Makinde engineer Oyo State very well.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Wednesday, July 8, 2020
9th July, 2020
MAKINDE’S GOVERNING BOARD APPOINTMENT IS LOPSIDED
An Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has criticized the recent appointments made by the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, for some tertiary institutions in the state. MURIC described the appointments as lopsided.
This was contained in a statement circulated by the Director of the organization, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Thursday 9th July, 2020.
The group said, “Governor Makinde appointed six chairmen of governing boards yesterday, Wednesday 8th July, 2020 but only one of them (Lateef Sanni) is a Muslim. He appointed thirty four (34) members but only fifteen (15) of them are Muslims. Makinde’s focus is clear. As far as he is concerned, only 16.6% and 44.1% are good enough for Muslims.
“Only a governor with a Christianisation agenda can do that in a Muslim-majority state. But it is our duty to interrogate the governor’s action. Makinde must explain the justification of his latest action to Nigerians. Where in the world can you give 16.6% of the dividend of democracy to the majority group while the minority goes away with 83.4%? Is it fair? Is it just? Is it equitable?
“Where are the merchants of false propaganda? They are quick to carry placards in protest against a Muslim president who is doing his best to create a level playing field for all. They cry marginalization in Abuja but turn the blind eye to the persecution of the majority in Ibadan.
“Now we know where Seyi Makinde is coming from. This is the second time he will shortchange Oyo State Muslims. How many of his commissioners are Muslims and how many are Christians? Out of fourteen commissioners, only four are Muslims. Makinde gave the Christians ten (10). Makinde’s democracy is government of the Christians, by the Christians, for the Christians. He is laying the foundation of full blown oppression of Muslims.
“Can Seyi Makinde tell Nigerians how much the pomp and pageantry of 2019 Christmas cost the government of Oyo State? Is it true that all roundabouts in the city of Ibadan were electrified with special blinking bulbs during the yuletide period of the same year? Mr. Governor sir, can the public know the cost? Was the money not taken from our common patrimony? Was any such thing or something close to it done to make the Muslim festival which was held four months earlier as glamorous? Is Makinde a governor of the Christians only or governor of all?
“We charge Governor Makinde to remember that governance is fragile. Only those who are able to strike a balance between groups rule successfully. We are watching every move in Oyo State because we do not want the emergence of another Fayose there. Makinde must therefore fasten his seat belt.
“We kept quiet when he cheated Muslims in the appointment of commissioners. Now he has sidelined them in the appointment of boards of tertiary institutions. Our people say ‘Ekini keebe, ekeji keebe, eleketa ni ajenjetan’, meaning ‘Once is happenstance, twice is a coincidence, the third time is enemy action. Makinde will not taste power in Oyo State again if he dares Muslims.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Monday, July 6, 2020
7th July, 2020
MURIC BACKS OGUN BILL ON TRADITIONAL RITES
A bill that will allow traditional rulers to be installed or buried after death according to their faiths has gone through the second reading in the Ogun State House of Assembly. The bill which is known as HB No 36/OG/2020- A Bill for a law to provide for the Preservation, Protection and Exercise by the traditional rulers of their fundamental Rights to be installed and buried according to their Religions or Beliefs and for other related matters is being sponsored by Hon Akeem Balogun, representing Ogun Waterside State Constituency.
In a press statement issued by the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) on Tuesday, 7th July, 2020 and signed by its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, the human rights group described the bill as long overdue, consistent with the spirit of democracy and a sine qua non for freedom of religion.
“We hail Hon. Akeem Balogun for sponsoring the bill that will allow traditional rulers to be installed or buried after death according to their faith. We equally commend those lawmakers who supported it. This bill is long overdue, consistent with the spirit of democracy and a sine qua non for freedom of religion.
“The imposition of only one religion (i.e. traditional religion) during installation and burial on all Yoruba Obas is an infringement of their Allah-given fundamental human rights. It is like life imprisonment for them. Yoruba kings have the right to choose the manner of their installation and no one has the right to cut a king off his brethren in faith.
“Besides, the world is changing and Yorubaland cannot afford to maintain an archaic and anachronistic system particularly when such erodes the liberty to enter into covenant with one’s Lord regarding how he will rule his people and how he will meet his Lord in the Hereafter. These are fundamental issues which no homo sapien should be deprived of.
“In this regard, we commend traditional rulers who have expressed their opposition to the outdated system. For instance, the Awujale of Ijebu-Ode, Oba Sikiru Adetona, has rejected the old system and declared his desire to be buried according to his religion (Islam) whenever he dies. Oba Adedapo Tejuosho, the Osile of Oke-Ona Egba, has also been installing the Oluwo and other chiefs with anointing oil as a born again Christian.
“The proposed bill will emancipate such rulers from the Yoruba traditional system which is replete with monopoly and intolerance. It should be noted that many qualified candidates to the throne have avoided contesting for it because of their fear that it would make them do certain things which are inconsistent with their faith.
“We posit that if all the citizens in a city are subjects of the Oba; if the citizens belong to different faiths; if the Oba is to rule over all his subjects; then traditionalists have no right to impose their own faith alone on every Oba. These qualities of intolerance and imposition are self-evident in the way traditionalists declare curfews and forcefully recruit adherents to their faith.
“Whereas Chapter 4 Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) says inter alia, ‘Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom’, traditionalists are in the habit of ignoring this constitutional provision and imposing curfew arbitrarily.
“In law, only the state government on the advice of the state commissioner of police can impose curfew on a town. Even then, such imposition must be based on adverse security report. But traditionalists will not listen. They force everyone to stay indoor and disorganize social and economic activities at will. The lives of women in labour during such unlawful curfews are endangered while students who have examinations stand the risk of failure. The forceful conversion of children of their deceased members to the traditional faith is another ugly dimension which reveals their dictatorial propensity.
“MURIC therefore welcomes the new bill with open arms. It will clip the wings of traditionalists particularly their gymnastic religiousity. However, we charge law enforment agents to ensure that the bill operates successfully when it becomes law. It is one thing to enact a law but it is another thing to ensure that it is obeyed. Experience has shown that security agents have not summoned the courage to challenge traditionalists when the latter take the law into their hands. This is where the state government needs to watch. We also call on other states in the region to emulate the bold step taken by Ogun State.
“As we draw the curtain, we reiterate our positive position on the proposed bill to allow traditional rulers to be installed or buried according to their faiths. It is a major milestone in the democratization of rulership in Yoruba communities. Henceforth, law enforcement agents must deal with traditionists who impose illegal curfews. State assemblies in Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti should also introduce the same bill and pass it into law. Apart from being anachronistic, traditional system is characterised with tyranny, intolerance and dictatorship. It is time to liberate the kings and the citizenry in Yorubaland.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Thursday, July 2, 2020
3rd July, 2020
EDE FURORE: MURIC WADES IN
The Nigerian social media has been awash with reports of the destruction of the Muslim Hospital, Ede by a popular thug who goes by the name Ayo Olawuyi, a.k.a. ‘A.Y.’. The suspect went berserk when his brother, Mutiu Olawuyi, whom he brought to the hospital in a critical condition gave up the ghost. He beat up the doctor and destroyed the hospital building and equipment.
Reacting to this incident, an Islamic human rights group, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has described the suspect’s attitude as bohemian and barbaric. This was revealed in a press statement issued by Professor Ishaq Akintola, Director of the organization on Friday, 3rd July, 2020.
The Director explained further, “What happened in Ede on Friday 27th June, 2020 is hard to believe. The police watched helplessly as a lone thug by the name Ayo Olawuyi went berserk. He beat up the Medical Director, Dr. Mas’ud Akanbi and went ahead smashing all the windows in the hospital. All the police could do was shout at him, ‘Ayo, it is ok now. Ayo, it is enough now. Ayo, calm down’.
“We are shocked that the police made no attempt to arrest this lone hoodlum as he vent his spleen on hospital windows and equipment. Even the chairman of the local government who was at the scene was allegedly heard saying, ‘Only Baba Timi (i.e. the Timi of Ede) can stop him.’
“MURIC is disappointed by the attitude of the police in Ede. It is the height of official cowardice and dereliction of duty to do nothing while a criminal continues to damage public property. It is unprofessional, preposterous and disgraceful. The tax-paying people of Ede who witnessed the carnage were left at the mercy of the hoodlum. Surprisingly, he left the scene unchallenged.
“The only saving grace was the state’s commissioner of Police, Olafimihan Adeoye. He ordered the arrest of the culprit the next day and transferred the D.P.O with immediate effect. We commend the state Commissioner of Police for righting the wrong without wasting any time.
“However, the culprit was allowed to go on bail with two sureties the next day because he was strongly suspected to have contracted COVID-19. He was tested and allowed to leave with the instruction that he must return when the result of his test is ready.
“While we appreciate the efforts of the Commissioner of Police, we call for strict pursuance of due process in the case. The allusion to the Timi of Ede as the only one who could stop him is pregnant with meanings. It may be seen as an indictment of sorts. What kind of influence does the Timi wield on a public nuisance whom the police treat with awe?
“Ayo the thug must be rearrested and prosecuted for assault, battery and wilful damage. Royal pressure or no royal pressure, there must be no coverup. We charge the Osun State Police Command to adhere strictly to the principle of equality before the law. Democracy and the rule of law are under threat in Ede. People are no longer safe in that city. In particular, both the patients and staff of the Muslim Hospital, Ede, are not safe as long as Ayo the thug still roams the streets as a free man.
“There are reports that Ede has become a den of thugs, hooligans, hoodlums and cultists. A drastic operation is needed to flush out these unscrupulous elements. Such an operation may not be successfully carried out with the present crop of police officers on ground in the town. We therefore demand the transfer of key officers in the division. Ede police division needs new brooms to be able to sweep clean.
“In addition, we call on the governor of the State of Osun, to prevail on the Timi of Ede, not to drag the royal stool into disrespect through his hobnobbing with undesirable elements in Ede town.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
1st July, 2020
MURIC TACKLES NCC, GLO, ON SIM REGISTRATION
An Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has taken the National Communications Commission (NCC) to task over an incident in a Lagos GLO customer office which occurred on Monday 15th June, 2020 in which a Muslim lady, Mutiat Oba, was subjected to religious stigmatization. The group wants NCC to make a categorical statement on the manner of use of hijab by Muslim women during sim registration.
MURIC made the demand in a press statement signed by the Director of the organization, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Wednesday, 1st July, 2020.
The Director explained further, “Mrs. Mutiat Oba was at the GLO customer office on Adeola Odeku Street, Victoria Island, Lagos on Monday, 15th June, 2020 between 1.30 and 3 pm to complain about her GLO sim card. She was advised to buy a new sim which would require registration.
“It was during capturing that the official, a lady who goes by the name ‘Banke’ asked her to expose her ears which were under the hijab as required by Islamic dressing rule. Mrs. Oba refused at first but was eventually pressurized to do so by ‘Banke’ who claimed that a newly procured equipment which was approved by NCC would not capture her face unless she exposed her ears. ‘Banke’ also claimed that it was not peculiar to GLO alone as all other telecoms have been instructed to do the same.
“The GLO official remained unconvinced even after Mrs. Mutiat Oba presented her driving licence and international passport both of which had her pictures in full hijab with covered ears. Even ‘Banke’s superior in the office (a lady with fair complexion) did not help matters as she also insisted that their customer must expose her ears for capturing. Depressed, humbled and intimidated, Mrs. Mutiat Oba agreed to expose her ears.
“MURIC strongly condemns the incident in GLO customer office. It is an encroachment on Allah-given fundamental human right of Mrs. Mutiat Oba, a law-abiding citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is the most odious and insidious religious stereotyping. It is also the most provocative and certificated Islam-bashing in recent time.
“MURIC hereby calls on NCC to clarify its true position. Was there any time that a directive emanated from NCC office to telecoms asking Muslim ladies in hijab to show their ears before capturing? If so, why? Is NCC unaware of the provisions of the law regarding freedom of religion, particularly ‘freedom to manifest’ as stipulated in Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution?
“Nigerian Muslims are asking NCC to make a categorical statement on this crucial issue. MURIC is asking NCC why such a directive was given if it was given at all. However, we are also requesting NCC to investigate the matter and take disciplinary action against GLO if NCC never issued such a directive. It means some non-Muslims are misusing their positions to pursue their selfish agenda of religious persecution.
“But can GLO claim innocence if NCC washes its hands off this stigmatization? Are we to believe that Glo is complicit? Who is to blame: NCC, GLO or GLO staffers? What is clear for now is that somebody acted ultra vires and there must be consequences otherwise the Nigerian project remains a sham, our democracy an illusion and our human right claim a mere hoax.
“This is the scenario that faces Muslim ladies in many government agencies, particularly in driving licence, international passport, national identity card offices. MURIC office has been inundated with complaints particularly in the South West because these oppressors dare not try it in the core North for fear of immediate backlash, often expected to be violent.
“Does it mean, therefore, that Muslims in the South West are being deliberately persecuted because they have never been known to be violent? Must we wait until Muslims in the region are pushed to the wall and they decide to defend themselves by any means possible?
“MURIC will continue to expose tyrants, oppressors and religious bigots whose preoccupation is the persecution of Muslims and the subjection of Muslim women to ridicle, contempt and public opprobrium with the aim of compelling Muslims to compromise their faith.
“MURIC will use every legitimate means available to seek redress if NCC fails to make clarifications on this matter within fourteen days from today. We will naturally assume that NCC is an accomplice and that the Commission tacitly gave the green light for the persecution of Muslim women in telecom offices. Meanwhile we appeal to Muslims around the country to remain calm and law-abiding as we are on top of the situation.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Thursday, June 25, 2020
26th June, 2020
ARREST OF ‘BANDITS’ :
MURIC TASKS AMOTEKUN ON ILE-IFE CRISIS
Many media houses reported that the Osun State Amotekun corps arrested some ‘bandits’ who tried to enter the state on Sunday, 21st June, 2020.
However, an Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has advised Amotekun to focus its attention on attacks on the people of Ile-Ife by thugs sponsored by illegal miners. MURIC commended Amotekun for its alertness. It tasked Amotekun on professionalism and detribalized security consciousness. The organization also cautioned Amotekun against sensationalism.
MURIC spoke on Friday, 26th June, 2020 through its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
According to MURIC, “We commend Amotekun operatives for being alert. But they must always use the right description for those apprehended. Those suspects should not have been described as ‘bandits’. They did not have to be linked with the banditry going on in the North. Amotekun must be professional and totally detribalized if it wants to achieve the desired results.
“A lot of holes can be picked from the story of the so called ‘bandits’ arrested by Amotekun. Those suspects were probably thugs imported from Lagos, not ‘bandits’ as reported. The media quoted the commandant of Amotekun himself saying that they were ‘from Lagos State going to Itagunmodi mining site in Atakumosa West Local Government Area of Osun State’.
“We all know what has been happening in the illegal mining sites in the State of Osun. Thuggery and hooliganism reigns supreme as innocent residents are hounded while their homes are bombarded by flying missiles as a result of explosions at the mines. This is the situation in Ile-Ife as we speak. The citizenry is restless and the security situation has been compounded by the fact that powerful people in the town are behind the illegal mining and the persecution of the Ife people.
“In fact, a video clip in possession of MURIC shows the near-demolition of one Mr. Segun Awofolarin’s house at Asarinlegan, Ile-Ife, caused by heavy stones which landed on the roof and penetrated the bedrooms. Several other heavy stones landed like scud missiles on the baby’s cot, the bathroom and the entire compound. This incident occurred on Tuesday, 2nd June, 2020. The family was lucky to escape unhurt because they did not sleep at home on that day.
“Several petitions have been sent by the people of Ile-Ife to the state government. Accusing fingers have been pointed at imported thugs being used by powerful people sponsoring the miners to intimidate the residents. It was some of these thugs who were being transported to the mining sites to harass the people of Ile-Ife that the Amotekun men intercepted, not ‘bandits’. The crisis dates back to two or three years.
“MURIC appeals to the state government to use Amotekun boys in rescuing the Ife people from the hands of heartless businessmen who are bent on making life miserable for the poor masses in Ile-Ife. This should be the focus of Amotekun, not imaginary bandits and herdsmen. Ile-Ife is the cradle of Yorubaland. The town is therefore central to the success or failure attributed to Amotekun.
“We need Amotekun to combat internal security challenges and the situation in Ile-Ife is getting out of hand. Charity begins at home. Ife people are being chased out of their homes the same way bandits are chasing innocent people out of their homes in Katsina, Niger and some other Northern states. The police is reportedly handicapped. This challenge must go to Amotekun since the latter was established to complement police operations.
“It is however disturbing that the first report of arrests did not mention any weapons. It only said ‘assorted types of charms were recovered from two of the suspected bandits’. Something is wrong if all eighteen people in a bus are branded bandits when ordinary charms were found on only two of them. It was the second report which came 24 hours later that made reference to ‘multifarious matchets, cutlasses, shovels and assorted charms’.
“Even a five-year old child knows that ‘matchets and cutlasses’ are one and the same thing. So why duplicate it? This is an exercise in hyperbole. Are shovels also weapons? It is well known that labourers move around with the tools of their work and the unskilled labour from the North carrying their tools around is a common sight in the South. Must we victimize poor labourers? When did we stop being our brothers’ keepers? Amotekun is manifesting dire desertification of professionalism plus a pitiable passion for stigmatization.
“Contrary to the emotional headline which stated that the ‘bandits’ were arrested, it could be gathered from the story that Amotekun merely ‘sent them back to where they came from’. This is sheer sensationalism calculated to heat up the polity. It is absolutely unnecessary unless some people are working towards the destruction of this country. A security unit created for the purpose of maintaining peace and security must not work at cross-purposes with other law enforcement agencies. Neither should it create unnecessary fear.
“Those suspects should not have been allowed to go scot free. It exposes Amotekun’s lack of experience. The suspects have violated the general ban on interstate movement. They should have been arrested and prosecuted even if it is for that offence alone.
“MURIC supports the step taken by Yoruba governors to combat insecurity. Nothing is wrong with seeking to protect one’s state but emphasis must not be on any particular tribe as targets, suspects or culprits. We must de-emphasise north-south dichotomy in our search for solutions to our security challenges. Criminals must be apprehended without stereotyping any tribe or region.
“We advise leaders of all tribes to caution unscrupulous elements among their people against going to other states to engage in criminal activities. Such actions have the capacity to dent the image of their tribes. If you are a thief and you cannot stop stealing, steal in your state. Don’t go to other states to tarnish the image of your tribe. This advice goes to all ethnicities: Igbo, Ijaw, Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, etc because all tribes have their own criminals just as they all have their decent and hardworking citizens.
“Let us, therefore, address criminality and stop linking criminals with their tribes. Let us punish criminals, not other innocent people who happen to come from the criminal’s town or village. It is not a crime to be a Yoruba, an Igbo or Fulani. Any of us could have been born anywhere.
“MURIC sees the present problem of insecurity facing Nigeria as a crisis of values and the way to solve it is for all of us to re-examine our norms with a view to re-engineering societal values. Our goal should be to evolve a better society, not to criminalise any ethnicity.
For instance, the recent rise in rape cases is a challenge for Amotekun. How can four cases of rape and killing occur in Akinyele Local Government of Ibadan alone within one month and Amotekun cannot fish out the culprits in its own backyard? Is it herdsmen and Fulanis alone they are commissioned to apprehend?
“The danger in the stigmatization of any tribe by Amotekun lies in the exposure of Yoruba people living in other regions to danger. Are Amotekun authorities willing to sacrifice Yoruba people living outside the region? Those who fail to give justice and fairplay will heap injustice on their kith and kin in other places. Amotekun must be broadminded. Its operation must not be narrowed to looking for criminals from a particular tribe otherwise it will miss hundreds of criminals from other tribes.
“We remind Nigerians that Amotekun is still in its infancy and any growing infant must have teething problems. We therefore call on all Nigerians, particularly non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to monitor its activities in order to ensure transparency, accountability, justice and fairplay. This admonition should not surprise anyone since it is in the character of NGOs to monitor the activities of government agencies, including the police. Therefore, Amotekun cannot be an exception. This security outfit must not be allowed to grow into a tribal or religious Gestapo.
“On a last note, we commend Amotekun for its alertness but we advise the security outfit to focus its attention on attacks on the people of Ile-Ife by thugs sponsored by illegal miners and serial rapists who are defiling Yoruba women. We task Amotekun on professionalism. We call for detribalized security consciousness and caution against sensationalism.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)