Tuesday, August 9, 2011




Many Muslims traveling out or returning into the country have been arrested and detained by the Nigerian security agencies in recent times. All these are happening under the guise of hunting Boko Haram. The Boko Haram phenomenon has therefore turned up a dangerous dimension, particularly in Lagos. Reports reaching our secretariat confirm that many innocent Muslims have been victimized by security agents in the past two months.     


Exempli gratia: a bearded Muslim lecturer at the Lagos State University (LASU) who went to the Badagry campus to teach was accosted by armed soldiers as he walked past the military base in the town. He was questioned for several minutes and told to remove his beard. One of the soldiers told him, "Next time I see you with that beard, I am going to shoot before asking questions!". He was lucky to escape with his life.


Two Muslim students, Ismail Abu Bakri and Ibroheem Tajudeen, were arrested at the Muritala International Airport as they were returning from Sudan on Friday, 5th August, 2011. They had cleared all necessary protocols before they were arrested at the point of exit. The security agents refused all entreaties. The student visas in their passports were ignored and they were bundled away like cheap criminals. Both of them are students at the International University of Africa, Sudan.


It brings to five the number of students detained by the incompetent Nigerian security agencies as they arrived from Sudan. As I placed this article on my personal blog (drishaqakintola.blogspot.com), a Nigerian student in Sudan called my line to express his pleasure with the writeup and to update me on the number of Nigerian students returning from Sudan only to be detained at the airport.


He gave the name of one Abdul Lateef, an indigene of Ibadan in Oyo State who was arrested, detained at Kirikiri for four days. He was told to report to the security agencies in Lagos weekly. Pertinent questions must be asked at this juncture: Are our security agents being professional enough? Are they not targeting Islamic studies for annihilation? Whose interest are these agents serving? Who set them against students of Islamic studies?  


Again, we must ask: What happened to shadowing? What happened to tailing? Have things deteriorated so badly that the security agencies no longer understand the art of following a suspect without his knowledge? Crime-detection is the trend in security circles around the world, not harassment and intimidation of innocent souls. This naive method of coercing the innocent only helps the real criminals to commit their atrocities and still get away with it.


I remember my days in the Campaign for Democracy (CD) under Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti, Nigerian security agents were always on our heels, sniffing, trailing. It was so much unlike these days of armchair policing when security agents just sit at the airport waiting for innocent Muslims. Pity!


Instead of frustrating the business activities of innocent Muslims, security agents should sharpen the tools of intelligence-gathering: trail suspects until you can pin something incriminating on them or leave them alone; spread your dragnet far and wide; keep your eyes open; grow eyes on your knees and ears on your toes. That is the trick.


But the reverse is happening here now. Many Muslims arriving from anywhere in the world are being intimidated. I find this development nauseating, alarming and provocative. It is an invitation to chaos. The Nigerian Gestapo is here. Harassment and wrongful arrest of innocent citizens are gross violations of Allah-given and fundamental human rights.


It breaches Section 41 (i) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guarantees freedom of movement which stipulates inter alia that no citizen of Nigeria shall "be refused entry thereto or exit therefrom". The selective nature of the harassment of Muslims by security agents is also a gross violation of Section 42 (i) (a) and (b) of the same constitution which guarantees freedom from discrimination, religious or otherwise.


By this selective, discriminatory and unconstitutional treatment of Muslims, the security agencies have turned Nigerian Muslims into endangered species. Muslims are becoming fugitives in their own land. Democracy is fast becoming a sham and a mirage in present-day Nigeria. It had better not be.


This is exactly the kind of scenario capable of becoming a recruiting sergeant for extremists. Nigerian Muslims are being militarized through victimization. An atmosphere of insecurity is being created for Muslims in their own country. This is unacceptable.


The transformation of the Boko Haram group from a pacific organization to a violent outfit within 24 months (2009-2010) is instructive in this regard. The attitude of the security agencies reveal that their training is either lopsided or that they have failed to practice the tenets of the training received by them. Nigeria's security agents are long in overzealousness but short in professionalism.


If this trend continues, we foresee a situation in which Muslims will disappear on Nigerian streets only to reappear in Guatanamo Bay or in any of America's secret bases around the world, courtesy of America's most inhuman rendition policy.


I therefore demand the immediate and unconditional release of the two students, Ismail Abu Bakri and Ibroheem Tajudeen. All others in similar circumstances should be allowed to go. I call on the Federal Government to check the excesses of the security agencies. Finally, I advise Muslim youths and Islamic scholars to reduce their trips outside the country to essential journeys only and to always make their itinerary known to their immediate families. Equally important is the need to set up monitoring  mechanisms for one's departure and arrival before leaving home.

Is-haq Akintola (Ph.D),
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),
Website: www.muric.net
Yahoo Group: groups.yahoo.com/group/muslimrights
Blog:       muslimrightsmuric.blogspot.com
Twitter:   twitter.com/muslimconcern
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

1 comment:

  1. this issue is becoming more serious than we thought. may Allah save us from the mess. i say jazaakumullahu khairan to Dr. Ishaq and his co-workers.
    Ramadan Kareem.