Saturday, November 23, 2013


24th November, 2013

The State Security Service (SSS) recently paraded Dr. Muhammad Nazeef, a lecturer of Islamic Studies at the Kogi State University and four others (Umar Musa, Mustapha Yusuf, Ismaila Abdulazez and Ibrahim Isah) who had been detained on suspicion of being members of a Boko Haram cell in Kogi State. Whereas his co-detainees testified against him, Dr. Nazeef has vehemently maintained his innocence.   

While we realize the need for the law to take its due course, we equally see the necessity for proper investigation of the matter in order to avoid a situation whereby an innocent man is unjustly punished. Dr. Nazeef is a well known Islamic scholar who has spoken against terrorism and violence in his public lectures. The fact that he holds a doctorate degree in Islamic Studies means that he has deep knowledge of Islam and cannot compromise Islam’s true teachings of peace and peaceful coexistence for the distorted Boko Haram ideology of bestial violence and terror.

Again while we admit the fact that the security agencies must do their job, we remind them of the sophisticated approach of the Boko Haram group. We strongly suspect that Dr. Nazeef may have been targeted for vengeance by the group because of his condemnation of their activities.

Nigeria is witnessing another phase in Boko Haramism. Having faced a solid wall in its guerrilla warfare against the Nigerian state, the group is now graduating into advanced psychological warfare. It has mastered the advanced plot of setting up one enemy to be eliminated by another enemy.

Boko Haram is now using its members to set up Islamic scholars who speak against them. Security agents have swallowed the bait: hook, line and sinker. The four men who testified against Dr. Nazeef are the guinea pigs. The question may arise: who is the next Islamic scholar that Boko Haram will set up before Nigerian security agents read between the lines?

It is an open secret that Boko Haram regards Islamic scholars who condemn terrorism and violence as their enemies primus inter pareil. The group is known to have assassinated several Islamic scholars when the group was still very strong. They are now reverting to subterfuge in their days of weakness. Boko Haram is out to get in the bends what it could not get in the straights.

They may have roped in Dr. Nazeef using those who testified against him. This is a group that believes in dying for a cause in which it believes. This is a group that has sent its members out on missions of no return in the past. What will it cost them to send three or more people to mislead security agents so long as it will lead to the incarceration of a long-time foe?

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) therefore appeals to the SSS to look before it leaps. Our hypothesis is that SSS may indirectly be doing to Dr. Nazeef what Boko Haram actually wants to do to him. This may produce a negative effect on Islamic scholars nationwide. Those who have been condemning Boko Haram and terrorism may crawl back into their shells for fear of being targeted by the dreaded terror group while those who have been timid and silent on the issue will now prefer to remain silent forever. The result of this development is the unfettered growth of terror cells.

While MURIC reaffirms its condemnation of terrorism, we remind security agents that they cannot fight terrorism alone. They need information and cooperation from civilians. There is no gainsaying the fact that it is the Muslims who can be most useful in this regard particularly on the Boko Haram affair while it is Islamic scholars who can effectively counter Boko Haram indoctrination. What message is the SSS passing across if it continues to detain the same Islamic scholars?

It must be noted that Nigerian Muslims have been united in condemning Boko Haram and Islamic scholars have dug deep into the scriptures of Islam (the Glorious Qur’an and the Hadith of the Holy Prophet SAW) to puncture Boko Haram’s misleading ideology. This is why the violent group regards Islamic scholars as their numero uno foes and always targets them for elimination.

SSS and other security outfits may therefore be cutting their noses to spite their faces by detaining and prosecuting Islamic scholars. It may be a sophisticated Boko Haram strategy. Our security agents may be waging Boko Haram’s war against Islamic scholars on behalf of Boko Haram.

On the basis of the above thesis, MURIC affirms that the arrest of Dr. Muhammad Nazeef can only be counter-productive. We call on the SSS to urgently review the case and set him free. SSS must determine who it is working for: Boko Haram or the Nigeria State? To continue detaining those who speak against Boko Haram is to work indirectly for the terror group.

MURIC appeals to Islamic scholars and organizations who have been apprehensive since the arrest of Dr. Nazeef to relax. We also urge leaders of Islamic organizations throughout Nigeria to douse tension among their members. Suspicions of witch-hunting and profiling of Muslims and Islamic scholars by security agents should not be allowed to germinate at this point in time when the nation needs the prayers of Islamic scholars for Nigeria’s spiritual growth and the peaceful conduct of the Muslim population for economic development.

Finally, MURIC urges the Security Committees of both Senate and the House of Representatives to examine the circumstances surrounding the case of Dr. Nazeef against the background of his impeccable record of positive spiritual guidance for Muslims and his past condemnation of violence, terrorism and Boko Haramism.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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