19th May, 2011
SHAYKH LEMU OR NO PROBE PANEL
The northern chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has rejected the appointment of Shaykh Ahmad Lemu as the chairman of the probe panel on the post-election violence which broke out in some states of Northern Nigeria after the presidential election held in April 2011. The probe panel was set up by the Federal Government to find out the remote and immediate causes of the violence.
We consider northern CAN's rejection of Lemu's headship of the panel a dangerous dimension. CAN hinged its rejection on the fact that Shaykh Lemu was one of the Muslim leaders who were behind the introduction of Shari'ah into the northern states of Nigeria. This position exposes CAN as intolerant, extremist, impatient and unforgiving.
We of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) take CAN's position with a pinch of salt. By using this parochial barometer, CAN has introduced sentiment, religious bigotry and outright blackmail into the controversy surrounding the probe panel. Every single Nigerian belongs to one religion or another. In most cases it is either a Christian or a Muslim that is appointed to posts.
Does it mean that all the noise about the need for us to avoid using religion as a parameter is all balderdash? Was the whole exercise a CAN agenda ab initio and the rest of us were just fooled into believing that religious politics must be avoided at all cost? What was the crime committed by Shaykh Lemu that he should be disqualified from heading a probe panel? Now we know that CAN is neither tolerant, nor is it willing to learn to live with its Muslim neighbours.
CAN's argument that it was not consulted before the panel was constituted holds no water. It merely exposes its hidden agenda, namely, to constitute the remote control room on government's decisions. The post-election probe panel is not a Christian-Muslim affair. Was the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs consulted? Shaykh Lemu was picked on merit. Why is CAN turning it into a religious controversy? Obasanjo's government did not consult the Sultan when he removed Arabic from the naira and heaven did not fall.
MURIC will not allow any group, no matter how elitist, to strangulate the polity. We totally reject CAN's dictatorial mien. We assert clearly, categorically and unambiguously that Shaykh Lemu, like any other qualified Nigerian, has the Allah-given and fundamental right to serve his country in his area of competence.
We therefore call on the Federal Government to ignore the rantings of CAN and to go ahead with the appointment of Shaykh Lemu as the Chairman of the probe panel. We warn that CAN has stirred the hornet's nest and any attempt by the Government to bend to CAN's wish will show Nigerians where the pendulum of this government is swinging. Nigerian Muslims will not be satisfied with the replacement of Shaykh Lemu with another Muslim. It is therefore Shaykh Lemu or no probe panel.
Even the rationale for the probe panel is clouded in controversy. We nurse fears about the futility of probe panels given the history of such exercises in the past. The reports of many probes end up in the dustbin after the initial hue and cry. Secondly, we share the fear of a large section of the Nigerian populace that the present Federal Government as constituted lacks the moral right to set up such a probe panel because the government itself is deeply involved.
The violence was an expression of anger against the ruling party and the same party lacks the moral locus standi to sit in judgment or to set up a panel to investigate a case in which it has vested interest. How fair can a ruling party's probe panel be when the crux of the probe is violence which erupted in protest against its victory? Already, the opposition is alleging victimization.
To our mind, therefore, only a neutral and international body like the United Nations or the African Union can constitute a credible probe panel into the post-election violence of April 2011.
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