Thursday, March 7, 2013



8th March, 2013




In a statement issued on Wednesday 6th March, 2013 and signed by its General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Musa Asake, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), attacked His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa'd Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) over the latter's call for amnesty for the Boko Haram group.        


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) takes CAN's firebrand reaction with a pinch of salt. Nothing but bad faith and preconceived idea could have ignited such an explosive reaction to the Sultan's simple and sincere admonition.


CAN's claim that only Christians and churches have been the targets and victims of attacks in the North is false, baseless and unfounded. We affirm that more Muslims have fallen victims than Christians in the on-going Boko Haram imbroglio. Hundreds of Islamic scholars have been reported killed by Boko Haram. This insurrection is therefore not about religion. This is where CAN missed the point.


The same group is known to have attacked Muslim traditional rulers of Northern extraction. For instance, about three palace guards lost their lives while defending the Emir of Kano during an attack on his person. Or is the Emir of Kano a Christian?


MURIC calls on CAN to be objective in its perception of issues, to be critical in its analysis of scenario and guarded in its reaction to perceived rivals. We remind CAN about the Sultan's consistent condemnation of the insurgent group. It is also on record that the Sultan had earlier called on both Christians and Muslims to come together to fight the evil of Boko Haram. Our suspicion is that CAN wants the North destroyed. Nigerian Muslims will resist this with every legitimate instrument at our disposal.


We declare without any fear of contradiction that it was the Sultan's love for peace and progress in Nigeria that informed his appeal to the Federal Government to grant amnesty to the Boko Haram group. We affirm clearly, unequivocally and categorically that the Sultan is the indisputable head of all Muslims in Nigeria. Law-abiding Nigerian Muslims, young and old, respect the Sultan.


The current Sultan is the best thing that has happened to the Nigerian Muslim Ummah in decades. We repose full confidence in his person and admire his style of leadership. Mobile and articulate, Sultan Abubakar III is a great inspiration for us. He is a leader with great integrity, a patriot primus inter pareil and a statesman nulli secundus. We will therefore not stand akimbo while some people treat him with disrespect. We remind CAN that respect begets respect.


MURIC therefore fully backs the Sultan's call for amnesty for Boko Haram. With hindsight, we affirm that this will not be the first time Nigeria is granting amnesty to dissident groups. The Federal Government declared amnesty for the Niger Delta militants when a Muslim was in government and the nation benefitted from it. CAN must rise above partisanship. What is good for the goose is equally good for the gander.


The question that comes to mind is what is CAN's answer to the crisis? Endless bloodbath? Did CAN object to amnesty for the Niger Delta militants? It amounts to double standard if we are willing to grant amnesty in one case but determined to 'crush' with military might in another. Perhaps CAN is secretly eyeing American drones stationed in Niger. We should not forget that when a hen perches on a rope, neither the rope nor the hen can be stable.


In any case, guerrilla warfare has never been crushed with military might alone. Nigeria should learn from America. Has the United States been able to annihilate the Taliban? Is there peace in Iraq?


On the contrary, those countries which have opted for dialogue with rebels are today enjoying the fruits of their humility. Britain dialogued with the IRA. Italy sat down at table with the Red Brigade. Spain held a tete-a-tete with the Basque Separatists. Nigeria too can stoop to conquer.


Finally, MURIC charges religious leaders to watch their pronouncements and control their emotions. Instead of throwing stones, we urge the leadership of CAN to join hands with the Sultan and the Federal Government to find lasting solution to the ongoing destruction of lives and properties in Northern Nigeria.



Professor  Is-haq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),


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