This is the official blog of the Nigeria-based Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a human rights organization which promotes, protects and projects the rights of Muslims. This group condemns terrorism and all acts of violence. Its motto is 'Dialogue, Not Violence'
Sunday, April 27, 2014
NATIONAL CONFERENCE: GIVE CHRISTIANS THEIR DEMANDS
NATIONAL CONFERENCE: GIVE
CHRISTIANS THEIR DEMANDS
Association of Nigeria (CAN) has made certain demands in the ongoing national
conference. This includes the establishment of ecclesiastical courts throughout
Nigeria. There are other requests.
It is pertinent to
note that this is the first time CAN has openly made such demands. We welcome
these demands as they indicate a positive response to requests from the
secretariat of the national conference and the call made by President Jonathan
for all aggrieved and neutral groups to present their cases and requests. The
latest submissions by CAN will no doubt move the dialogue machinery forward.
We of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) have always asked
Christians in the country to tell Nigerians what they wanted instead of always
opposing what the Muslims want. It is our belief that
if all stakeholders in the Nigerian project openly make their demands, the task
of harmonizing our interests will become easier. We believe that demands which
fall within the fundamental human rights of each group should be granted while
no group should stand in the way of another so long as a group’s demand does
not encroach on others’ rights. All groups should respect the ‘Live and Let Live’ golden rule.
It is in this respect that we are asking the national
conference to approve CAN’s requests. We are not unaware
the existing courts in the country which use common law are Christian courts.
Even British Prime Minister David Cameron affirmed last week that Britain is a
Yet unlike the hostile
stand of CAN when Muslims demanded Shariah law, Islamic banking, etc, Muslims
are prepared to tolerate Christian courts so long as the latter will serve
Christians only and no Muslim will be brought before them. This was also the
argument of Muslims when they made demands but our Christian neighbours defied
logic when they opposed it.
MURIC appeals to Christians in the country to see their
Muslim compatriots as partners in progress. Can is also advised to change its
mindset regarding the national conference as it is obvious that its delegates
came to the conference singing war songs. CAN has a perception complex whereas
negotiations and dialogues require open-mindedness to succeed.
An example is the avoidable
controversy started by CAN’s false claim that Muslims in the committee on
religions were 12 while Christians were 8, making the total 20 members. It is
gratifying that the secretariat of the national conference has debunked the
claim. According to the secretariat in a statement issued on Wednesday 23rd
April, 2014, Muslims are 11 while Christians are 10.
MURIC is constrained to assert that although the
secretariat was right on the total number of members of the committee (21), it
erred regarding the number of Christians and Muslims. It is Christians who have
the higher number of 11 while Muslims have the lower number of 10.
The search for
numerical exactitude has revealed that Professor Layi Erinosho (No.7 on
the list in the secretariat’s statement) whom the secretariat categorized as a
Muslim is, indeed, a Christian. Professor Erinosho who hails from
Abeokuta, Ogun State, is the secretary of the Social Science Academy of
But why was he listed
as a Muslim? It will appear that wonders will never end in this ongoing
national conference. The conspiracy against Nigerian Muslims in the national
conference started with the manipulation of the list of delegates.
It was so cleverly
done that even President Jonathan was not aware that the number of Christians
nearly doubled that of Muslims. The same scenario of figure-juggling is
emerging again from the secretariat.
MURIC calls the attention of discerning Nigerians and
indeed the entire world to the mature dispensation and great patience
manifested by Nigerian Muslims in this matter.
We were shortchanged ab
initio in the number of delegates. Our great leader the Sultan of Sokoto
advised that instead of taking any rash decision, we should take our case to
President Jonathan. This we did about four weeks ago. Nothing has been done to
date in spite of the president’s promise to address the gross imbalance. We
therefore remain oppressed.
Instead of the aggrieved Muslims to show aggression, it
is the over-pampered CAN that is exhibiting unfettered belligerence and making
false, baseless and unfounded allegations. Muslims have not been
complaining before except when it becomes absolutely necessary. It is not
because we are fools but because we care very much about the unity of this
There are so many issues, peripheral and tangential, over
which the Muslims could have raised eyebrows but we keep quiet in the interest
of peace and stability.
Contrary to CAN’s
allegation that it was Justice Idris Kutigi who handpicked Nurudeen Lemu, a
Muslim from his state as chairman of the committee on religion, it is didactic to note that the
secretariat confirmed in its press statement that the chairman had actually
excused himself from choosing the chairmen of committees.
It is quite glaring,
therefore, that if the Muslim chairman did not choose the chairmen of
committees, he gave a free hand to his Christian vice to do so. Page 3 of the
secretariat’s press statement says this much.
We advise the
Christian body to infuse integrity and sincerity of purpose into its maneuvers
particularly in the national conference because unless we are all transparently
honest with ourselves Nigeria may come out worse than it was before the
conference began. This is why we should not keep malice. Let us open up our
hearts and declare charity for all.
Finally, we advise the delegates of CAN and those of the
Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs to remember that there are issues
other than religion begging for attention in the national conference.
These are issues on
which both Christians and Muslims agree. We all want good security, regular
power supply, good roads, efficient public health delivery system, effective
public transport system, qualitative education, end to corruption, etc. Let us
address these issues and stop whipping up primordial sentiments.