Friday, June 22, 2018

NO TO CAN’S APPEAL FOR CLEMENCY FOR KILLERS


21st June, 2018
PRESS RELEASE:
NO TO CAN’S APPEAL FOR CLEMENCY FOR KILLERS  


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has frowned upon an appeal made by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to President Muhammadu Buhari asking him to intervene in the death sentences passed on five Christian youths in Adamawa State. The appeal was made in a press statement issued by CAN president, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, on Tuesday in Abuja.


The five convicts were sentenced to death for culpable homicide by Justice Abdul-Azeez Waziri of a High Court in the state. They were alleged to have, on June 1, 2017, ‘willfully and intentionally conspired and attacked three herdsmen rearing cattle at Kadamun village in Demsa Local Government Area.’ One of the herdsmen, Adamu Buba, was killed and his body was thrown into a river. The convicts also maimed several cows.


MURIC described CAN’s action as an attempt to obstruct the course of justice using its connections in the Federal Government. The organization said, “It is infantile, ludicrous and unacceptable. It is an attempt to aid and abet criminality while pointing accusing fingers at innocent Muslims. It is outrageously outrageous. This should not have come up at all. It is absolute bunkum.”


In a press statement obtained by our correspondent and signed by Professor Ishaq Akintola, director of the human rights organization, MURIC argued that at least four Muslim kidnappers were sentenced to life imprisonment by the same judge, in the same court and on the same day but CAN said nothing about them. It added, “Again, where was CAN when the Fulani kidnappers of Chief Olu Falae were sentenced to life imprisonment about two years ago?”

Continuing, it asked, “Why is CAN being so parochial? How can we have different laws for different people? Which one does CAN want to follow: the rule of law where every Nigerian is equal before the law or the ‘rule of escape’ where Christians, rich and powerful citizens are above the law? Why is CAN eager to set them free if the organization is not their sponsor or very close to their sponsor or sponsors?”


Akintola expressed dismay at what he called “well educated Christian leaders can openly canvass for selective justice. CAN wants criminals and killers among Christians to go scot free so they can kill more Muslims but the same CAN will not put in a single word for criminals among Muslims who were sentenced to life imprisonment.”


Again he asked, “Can you see what acrobatic religiousity has done to Nigeria?” What will happen if Muslim leaders also use their influence (and that is if they have any) to secure freedom for Muslims who commit murder? How can we find any solution to these killings? Our own stand is that whoever commits an offence, whether he is a Muslim or a Christian, should be punished in order to serve as a deterrent to others. Let the law take its due course. Sentence Muslims to death if they kill. Sentence Christians to death if they kill.”


MURIC insists that no group is totally innocent, adding, “There are criminals among Muslims and there are criminals among Christians but for any religious leader to seek immunity for criminals in his flock makes mockery of the judicial system. We are all looking for an end to killings in this country. People are just being killed like rams everywhere. It is therefore shocking to hear a group which claims to be holier-than-thou attempting to shelter killers because they happen to belong to the same faith.


“Interestingly, CAN has been in the forefront of those complaining. The umbrella Christian body was pointing accusing fingers at Fulani herdsmen and Muslims but the outcome of investigations now prove otherwise. Several members of Benue Christian militia have been caught with arms. They are being funded and trained secretly by the state government. A fake military barracks has been discovered by the army. 


“Those who secretly fund a militia group are capable of doing anything. Those who set up fake military barracks can do and undo. We strongly suspect that these hitmen have been instructed to disguise as Muslims to stage attacks on Christian targets in order to hang the crime on Muslims.


The human rights group also has a poser for CAN. “Otherwise what informed the ugly scenario in a Benue church where two Catholic bishops were killed along with other worshippers? Those being tried for this heinous crime are all Christians: Manga Husseini, David Akenawe, Agada Tsesaa, Tarza Orvanya & Ngyohov Shin. How far will some people go just to tarnish the image of Muslims? Soldiers also arrested two suspected members of a militia gang terrorizing residents of Katsina-Ala in Benue State two days ago and both of them are Christians.

“If we add the five Christians who killed the Fulani and wounded their cattle to the list of Christian killer militiamen, what we have is a situation where the riddle of killings is being solved little by little. The Fulanis have been complaining for a long time that they were being attacked. Whole Fulani families and communities were being wiped out. Their cattle were being rustled. Nobody listened to them because the perpetrators have been well trained, extra-careful, clever, methodical but merciless and deadly. We should not treat this case with kid’s glove now that some people have been caught.” 

MURIC alleged that there is a plot to tarnish the image of Muslims and their religion. “The plot to incriminate Muslims or hang crimes on innocent Muslims in order to smear the good name of Islam is gradually unfolding. We will not stand akimbo while the real dramatis personae in this game use blackmail and intimidation to cover their tracts.

Turning philosophical, Akintola said, “Only Almighty Allah himself can save Muslims from these plots and intrigues. We Muslims are very plain. We say it as it is. Mischief and subterfuge are not in our character. We take our religion seriously. No pretense. Muslims don’t fight secretly. They don’t pin crime committed by them on innocent people. They declare war openly only when they are attacked. But there is enough evidence now that it is not so on the other side. Any method goes, fair or foul.”

MURIC argued that “it is scandalous for a body like CAN to be ‘…calling on President Buhari to intervene in the death sentence passed on these Christian youths in Adamawa.’


The organization therefore advised CAN to allow the law to take its rightful course. “Christian leaders should stop interfering with the course of justice. It is unethical to ask the president to intervene in a criminal case. Summon your legal team. Head for the appeal court. Afterall the convicts were tried by a court of competent jurisdiction. It was not a Shariah court.”


Akintola appealed to religious leaders to comport themselves with the dignity which Allah has granted them. “They should not attempt to sway justice in any direction. The Glorious Qur’an commands justice (16:90). It forbids deviation from the course of justice (Qur’an 5:8) and enjoins Muslims to maintain justice even if the case is against their friends or members of their family (Qur’an 4:135).

Going comparative, Akintola cited relevant portions of the Bible which teach justice. He said, “Similarly, the Bible declares, ‘When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.’ Proverbs 21:15. It says, ‘Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!’ and adds, ‘But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream’ (Amos 5:24). 

He urged Nigerians to obey the scriptures, “We can all see now that the problem with Nigeria is acrobatic religiousity. It is not an acute lack of resources. People know what their scriptures teach but they choose to follow their whims and caprices. Let us follow the true teachings of our holy books.”

Concluding, MURIC said, “In our closing remarks, we urge President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore CAN’s request for freedom for killers. We commend the gallant soldiers, policemen and DSS who are working day and night in Benue, Taraba, Plateau and other places to ensure that killings stop and that killers are brought to book. Instead of conducting clandestine manouvres, we urge the leaders of CAN to join hands with Muslim leaders in an effort to enforce law and order in Nigeria.”

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

Thursday, June 21, 2018

SIGNED BUDGET: IT IS A RIP OFF!


21st June, 2018
PRESS RELEASE:
SIGNED BUDGET: IT IS A RIP OFF!
President Muhammadu Buhari signed the 2018 budget yesterday amidst claims and counter claims of heavy budget padding. A brief comparison of the budget submitted to the National Assembly (NASS) by the president and the one returned to him few days ago shows clear disparities. There are additions and subtractions in some areas.

Examples of increase are the budget of the National Assembly itself which was increased from N125 billion to N139.5 billion. This shows an increase of N14.5 billion. The provisions for statutory transfers were also increased by an aggregate of N73.96 billion. Most of the increases in statutory transfers are for recurrent. This is not in the best interest of Nigeria since the present government is trying to keep down the cost of governance. 

MURIC sees signs of deliberate attempt to sabotage FG’s efforts at speeding up developmental projects in critical areas. This is very significant as we approach the 2019 general elections. Good performance in those areas and completion of the projects were being touted as likely to skew votes in the direction of President Buhari while failure to finish them are most likely to ignite anger among the electorate in the affected areas.  


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) takes very serious objection to the strong arm tactics, procrastination and lackadaisical attitude of the federal lawmakers particularly on the issue of the 2018 budget which touches all aspects of life of every single Nigerian.


For instance, the take-off grant for the Maritime University in Delta State was cut from N5 billion to N3.4 billion. The most outrageous cut is the provision for the construction of the Terminal Building at Enugu Airport which was cut from 2 billion Naira to 500 million Naira. This is most certainly going to cause further delay in the completion of this critical project.


Other slashes include, pensions: N5 billion, housing: N8.7 billion, provision of security in Unity Schools: N3 billion, allocation to health by N7.45 billion, allocation to UN building security: from N4 billion to N100m, allocations to 2nd Niger Bridge, Manbila Power project, East-West Road, Lagos-Ibadan Express Road, Bonny-Boddo Road in Rivers State and Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail project by a whopping N11.5 billion. The total cuts amount to more than N300 billion.

Nonetheless, about 70 new road projects have been inserted into the budget by the NASS. But the same NASS revealed its intention to dent the image of this administration as it cut the amounts allocated to some strategic major roads to make way for those added by it. Those strategic roads may not be completed on schedule since the NASS has reduced their funds.

2018 budget was deliberately delayed for seven good months to railroad the executive into signing under duress since very little time will be left for scrutinizing. This informed President Buhari’s remark yesterday that he was signing the budget to avoid total economic shutdown. We salute Mr. President for this altruism.

It is very glaring that members of the NASS are proving beyond any reasonable doubt that they are enemies of the people. They are holding the nation to ransom. Nigerians must remember that this same NASS claimed that the budget was lost after receiving it from the executive. This caused a long delay. NASS is frustrating efforts of the Federal Government to provide critical infrastructure.

The fact that the NASS jacked up its own budget by N14.5 billion shows that the members are only out to feather their own nests. Who prepared the NASS budget ab initio? What has changed between the time it was prepared and now? Has the number of the members increased by any significant figure to justify such an increase in their budget?

Wonders will never end. Otherwise where was the deputy senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu when the budget for the Terminal Building of Enugu Airport was cut from 2 billion Naira to 500 million Naira? Is he not from Enugu State? Can the Igbo people still say that Buhari does not like them? The wind has blown. We have seen the ruff of the hen.


Where were all the senators from the South South when the budget for the Niger Delta University was being slashed from N5 billion to N3.4 billion? Et tu Senator Ben Bruce, did you also support this dehumanization? No, it cannot be. It must have been done in your absence, perhaps during the recording of one of your famous interventions. Why are our politicians determined to drag the masses on the floor and trample upon them as they lie face-down? What kind of wickedness and insensitivity is this? Who did this to Nigeria?


It is also most paradoxical that the NASS would ever think of slashing the budget for the provision of security in the Unity Schools by N3 billion. It is unthinkable at a time when kidnapping is rife and the same NASS had threatened to impeach Mr. President over insecurity! This must be a huge joke. Chibok and Dapchi must be tales from the moonlight as far as our lawmakers are concerned. It merely exposes the insincerity of Nigerian legislators at the federal level.


These people are playing politics with the lives of Nigerians. Our people are being made to suffer because selfish lawmakers do not want progress to be registered during this Buhari regime. This is politics of pettiness and bitterness. It is ‘bolekaja’ diplomacy. Patriotism has fled from Nigeria’s hallowed chambers. Politicking is set aside in other climes in the interest of the nation. That is why America and Britain are great today. But not in Nigeria. The good man at the top who wants to liberate the people must be rendered useless even if it means citizens have to whistle for their dinner.


Interestingly, while cutting the budget right, left and center, the National Assembly left its own budget untouched but rather added to it. Can you see what we mean? They also introduced thousands of their own projects worth about N578 billion.

It has been cat and mouse game since the inception of this administration. Nigerians themselves have seen the good intention of the executive. NASS is our problem. We are tired of our lawmakers. They expect Buhari to compromise on corruption. They cannot just believe how a former state governor, former chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), former military head of state and now president of Nigeria could have only one building in his home town, just one structure in Abuja, no single foreign account, no private jet, no oil bloc, etc.

These people believe that Buhari must be from another planet. They are green with envy. They do not see the legislature as a partner in progress with the executive. Rather, they have constituted themselves into clogs in the wheel of progress. Here is the crux of the problem and Nigerians must choose between these politicians of fortune and their president whom they elected for the purpose of cleaning the Augean stable.

Nigerians must pray in unison focusing on certain prayer points. We must pray that Almighty God should uplift those Nigerian lawmakers and other politicians who are promoting the welfare of the people and working for the greatness of our nation. We also need to beseech God to remove the hands of selfish lawmakers and other politicians from the destiny of the Nigerian people. God should take power far away from such people so that the poor masses may be set free.

As we round up, we reiterate our conviction that this eighth NASS is the worst in the history of our nation. Its members are working for themselves. It is therefore time for Nigerians to wake up. While we call on Nigerians to pray for freedom from their tormentors, we remind them that prayer without work is lame. We must take our destiny in our hands even as we pray. God will then give us His divine support. The Glorious Qur’an says, “Allah will not change the condition of a people until they themselves decide to change their attitude” (13:11).

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