MUSLIMS MASSIVELY DISENFRANCHISED
There is no gainsaying the fact that Lagos as a pace setter and a center of excellence needs peace for further development. Even the blind can see the good works that the Lagos State Government has done so far and which it still continues to do.
But only a peaceful atmosphere is conducive to such developmental efforts. It is in view of this that we call your kind attention to the overzealousness of officials handling the current voters registration in the state. Contrary to official INEC instructions, these officials single out Muslims for discrimination.
Muslim women who wear hijab, those in purdah (with faces veiled) and Muslim males who wear ordinary caps are being denied registration. This is capable of discouraging Muslims from participating in the voters registration exercise. It is also tantamount to mass disenfranchisement of Muslims and a criminal denial of the Allah-given and fundamental human rights of tax-paying and law abiding citizens.
We have persuaded Muslims to avoid violent reaction. We have issued appeals to INEC on radio, television and newspapers but the persecution continues. Muslims in the North are not being treated this way. This may give room for negative speculations, fears and lack of confidence in INEC. Worse still, this discrimination is creating tension, excitement and agitation.
We need peace to conduct a successful voters registration exercise and the April 2011 polls. While we have confidence in the leadership of INEC, the ad hoc staff in the field have failed to appreciate the need for religious tolerance. A registration officer called Muslims on the queue 'the terrorist group'.
Muslims are being embarrassed, intimidated and dehumanized. This is not acceptable. It is the height of religious intolerance and a manifestation of man's inhumanity to man. It is barbaric and Bohemian. Democracy is a sham if it is not participatory. We suspect a deliberate attempt to massively disenfranchise Muslims in the South for a hidden agenda, but it is only agents provocateur who can pursue such agenda. MURIC will use every legitimate means to protect the Allah-given and fundamental rights of its members. We are presently compiling data on persecution spots.
As tax-payers and law abiding citizens, Muslims have the right to register. They must not be subjected to religious apartheid. We appreciate the efforts of INEC but wish to state that any exercise that does not take care of the needs of the various groups in the country is not objective enough. The peculiarities of the different religious groups must be properly taken care of. Those who refuse to recognize Muslims and give them their rights are promoting religious fanaticism.
As a proactive and peace-loving human rights organization, we have suggested to INEC as follows:
1. that INEC Lagos and Ogun states in particular should issue fresh
Instructions on this matter to those in the field (that Muslim women in
hijab and other women who wish to cover their heads as well as Muslim males wearing caps or any other men who do not wish to remove their caps be allowed to register without any fuss) and
2. that INEC creates special centers handled by female officials (at least one in each local government) for Muslim women in purdah.
It is this type of provocation which cause religious riots. We cannot afford that in the South-West. But the reality is that justice is the soul of peace. We therefore appeal very strongly to Your Excellency to please use the machineries of your government to intervene before it is too late. Already, Muslim youths demonstrated at INEC office yesterday. A stitch in time saves nine.
True to our avowed motto, 'DIALOGUE, NOT VIOLENCE' our organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), will continue to work towards the maintenance of law and order. We have no doubt that this peaceful method is equally capable of promoting, projecting and protecting (our 3 Ps) the rights of Muslims in Nigeria and elsewhere. This is our pledge.
Once again we appreciate the great works of the Lagos State Government and we ask you not to allow distractors to change your focus.
Eko o ni Baje o ...O baje ti!
Dr. Is-haq Akintola, Mallam Abdul Yakeen Williams
Director, Secretary General
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Is-haq Akintola (Ph.D),
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),
Yahoo Group: groups.yahoo.com/group/muslimrights
Be just Justice is the soul of peace
No one can deny one and have the other
Neither can violence or naked force bring lasting peace