Thursday, December 31, 2015


1st January 2015,
The Nigerian nation finally entered a new year 2016 after an action-packed 356 days of year 2015.    

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) casts a retrospective glance at major issues of national interest x-raying the performances of the three arms of government, namely, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary in the last one year. In summary, we are generally pleased with steps taken so far by the executive arm of government in several areas.

The war against Boko Haram insurgents has been largely won courtesy of the new administration’s sincerity of purpose and commitment to the protection of the territorial integrity of Nigeria. We strongly believe that recent incidents of suicide bombing in some parts of the North East are borne out of a sense of defeat as all territories occupied by the insurgents have been liberated by the Nigerian Army. President Muhammadu Buhari and the top echelon of the Nigerian Army deserve accolades for this monumental fait accompli.  

MURIC lays the blame for the tragic disappearance of the Chibok girls who were abducted by the insurgents on the doorsteps of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan who refused to take action until 18 days after the mass abduction.

His nonchalance appeared conspiratorial as it gave the hoodlums enough time to either take the girls outside Nigeria or hide them in an underground bunker while they dug in. This is a good case of executive connivance and accessory after the fact of mass abduction of innocent Nigerian girls. We regretfully assert that only a magic in the hands of Jonathan’s successor and divine miracle can produce the Chibok girls.

The introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) to the finance sector of government agencies nationwide has injected a powerful dose of probity and accountability in public finance. Its implementation has also reinforced President Buhari’s credibility. No less reassuring is the new administration’s war against corruption.

In particular, the $2.2 billion arms fund saga has been most traumatizing. Nigerians are shocked that public office holders can so callously divert such huge funds meant for fighting insurgents. The blood of victims of Boko Haram marauders including that of our gallant soldiers who fell to the insurgents’ superior firepower is certainly on the heads of those behind the diversion.

In this regard, we appeal to President Buhari to release the 66 soldiers who were convicted for demanding adequate weapons before advancing on Boko Haram insurgents. This will be a most welcome new year gift from Mr. President to Nigerians.

We pity critics of President Buhari who call him a dictator on account of his firm stand on the corruption cases. They are birds of the same feather with those who steal from our commonwealth. Their blind criticism is simply aimed at blackmailing the president and compelling him to soft-pedal. In other climes, particularly in places like China and Vietnam, these public enemies would have been shot long ago and their properties forfeited to the state. Consideration of human rights is a misconception for people who deprived thousands of their right to life.

We call on President Buhari to remain undaunted in his determination to punish these kleptomaniacs. This is the people’s mandate and only a man with iron will can fulfill it. Mr. President must forge forward. ‘No retreat, No Surrender.’    

The recent allegation of a plan to purchase 496 cars for members of the National Assembly (NASS) is quite worrisome particularly because this is coming after car loans were granted to all the honourable members barely four months ago. Nigerians expect the NASS to embrace the change mantra of the new dispensation.

With Nigeria’s basic foreign income earner (petroleum) which used to sell above $100 now selling at $37 per barrel, the last thing we need in these difficult times is an assembly of looters. We therefore demand that the extravagant plan be put on hold.

Although MURIC can observe knocks and kudos for the judiciary in the last one year, we can confidently say that this arm of government has kept its head above sea level. We are pleased to note that the old practice of releasing two or three inmates while exercising the prerogative of mercy has changed dramatically. State chief judges now free scores of deserving inmates during their visits.

MURIC implores the judiciary to visit the prisons regularly and free larger number of inmates in order to facilitate speedy and effective decongestion.

In addition, we remind judges and lawyers of the need to temper justice with patriotism in their handling of corruption cases.

Judges and lawyers should remember that they are also Nigerians and their nuclear or extended families are one way or the other affected by the acts of economic sabotage carried out by looters.  Nigerians are eagerly waiting to hear final pronouncements on those who sucked them dry and turned their children into beggars. By the same token, posterity is taking note of collaborators in legal wigs and gowns.     

The Fourth Estate of the Realm proved worthy during the past year. Nonetheless, some overzealousness and sensationalism were noticed. Of particular reference is the curious interest shown by a section of the press in the hijab imbroglio. Rumours were deliberately generated to the effect that the government was planning to ban the hijab because of the way suicide bombers use it to disguise.

This was also demonstrated in the way a media executive posed the question to President Buhari during his recent media chat. To put the records straight and to the best of our knowledge, the Federal Government has not revealed any plan to ban hijab.

The question put to Mr. President was therefore unnecessary, sensation-seeking and mischievous. We are also constrained to clarify that no neighbouring country has banned hijab. What was banned in Cameroon, Niger and Chad is the burqa which covers both the heads and faces of users. In spite of the response extorted from Mr. President, Nigerian Muslims have no reason to doubt his sense of fairness.

We must also quickly add that nobody in his right frame of mind will compare Nigeria with its neighbours particularly on religious issues. Unlike Nigeria, our neighbours have experienced no single religious crisis for decades. The argument that Nigeria should also ban the hijab because its neighbours have done so is therefore weak, irrelevant and untenable.

Any administration contemplating a ban on hijab in Nigeria may be setting fire to its own roof. Nigerian journalists are therefore implored to eschew sensation and to conduct their assignments with great sense of responsibility in the interest of peace in the country.

Nonetheless, MURIC is still of the humble opinion that certain measures can be taken on the hijab affair (e.g. regarding type, style, time frame and not a blanket ban) in the interest of protecting the lives of even the Muslims who use the hijab and those of the security agents if the local Muslims are taken into confidence prior to debates and declarations.

On a final note, therefore, MURIC reaffirms full confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration. We call on the leadership and members of the NASS to tow the same line of discipline in order to justify the exalted position occupied by them. President Buhari is advised to dialogue with Muslims in the country on the perceived threat posed by hijab to security agents and civilian populations.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


30th December 2015,

President Muhammadu Buhari this evening hosted media executives to a presidential media chat. The president hinted on the possibility of imposing a ban on hijab in the near future if the bombings continue.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) rejects any idea of imposing a ban on hijab. It is escapist. It is scapegoatism. It will open the floodgates of anarchy. Instead of solving Nigeria’s security problems, it is most likely to compound it.

If army and police uniforms are not banned although they are often used by bandits, why should we ban hijab? Security agents know how they often fish out hoodlums who use police and soldiers’ uniforms to commit atrocities. The same method should be used to prevent the use of hijab for bombing.

What crime have Nigerian Muslim women committed that they should be derobed in public? Without their hijab, Muslim women feel as if they are naked. Users of hijab are in all walks of life. They are civil servants, business women, teachers, etc. Most importantly, they are tax payers and voters. They voted Buhari into power. Is Buhari’s government warming up to encroach on Allah-given fundamental rights of Muslim women?  Is this an appropriate pay-back?

Another dimension in the idea of banning hijab is the geographical area likely to be involved in the ban? Will it be limited to the three troubled states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe? Will it extend to the whole North East or will the ban cover the whole of Nigeria?

The question also arises, Mr. President, if you ban hijab, what is the time frame? When will you deban it? Are we not likely to experience more religious upheavals after the ban as some religious zealots will want to capitalize on the ban by maltreating Muslim women? Will these religious fanatics who use the period of the ban to oppress Muslim women stop their repression even after hijab has been de-proscribed?

Has President Buhari pondered over the impact of the imposition of a state of emergency on those three states by the past administration? Did it stop insurgency? We posit that Boko Haram handlers will simply shift to other methods to conduct their nefarious activities. Already they have introduced suicide bombing by children. Is Buhari going to ban children from going out to the streets?

MURIC appreciates Mr. President’s dilemma. We understand that Boko Haram must be defeated. But Muslim women must not be the scape goats. Nigerian Muslims will not succumb to a policy that dehumanizes their mothers, wives, daughters and sisters. Banning hijab tantamounts to institutionalizing the stereotyping of Muslim women. This is unacceptable.

Hijab is more than a covering for female Muslims. It is a unique identity for Muslim women. It is a mark of dignity and a symbol of piety. Hijab is an integral part of Islam, a microcosm in a macro. Whoever bans hijab has fired a shot at the religion of Islam. We therefore advise Mr. President to tread softly.

Hijab also represents chastity and innocence. By banning hijab, Nigeria will be pronouncing its hypocrisy to the international community as a country which claims to be fighting HIV and AIDS yet it has failed to protect chastity and innocence. Whoever bans hijab has given unbridled licence to indecent dressing among women, its attendant sexual licenciousness and the exposure of society to its aftereffects.  

Buhari and his security chiefs must therefore find other means of stopping the bombings. They should leave Muslim women alone. Nigeria’s security agencies must sit up and device other means. There must be new initiatives and fresh ideas. Armchair crime-fighting is an anachronism. They must not use Muslim women as scapegoats. They must step up their intelligence gathering gimmicks.

On a final note, we opine that banning hijab will be a mark of victory for Boko Haram. The insurgents will celebrate their success in causing so much confusion and such wide division between the government and its Muslim citizenry.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


23rd December 2015,

Christians all over the world will celebrate Christmas on Friday, 25th December, 2015. Millions of Nigerian Christians will partake in this annual event which marks the birth of Jesus (peace be upon him).

We of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) felicitate with our Christian brothers on this occasion. It is instructive that the birthdays of the two major religious figures came so intimately close this year, 24th and 25th of December. This is not a mere coincidence. There is a message in it for us. God wants Christians and Muslims to come closer.

We opine that instead of igniting hatred, bitterness and violence, religion should generate love, kindness and peaceful coexistence. All religions including Bhudism, Christianity, Confucianism, Islam, Jainism, African Traditional Religion, etc, teach love and mercy for homo sapien.

There is no religion that teaches hatred and enjoins its adherents to kill and maim. The problem we have in Nigeria is that people abuse religion. They use it as a launching pad for their selfish desires. Politicians exploit religion to satisfy their greed and avarice while ethnic jingoists masquerade under the canopy of religion to wet their murderous and cannibalistic appetite.

MURIC avers that it is not too late for Nigerians to put religion in its proper perspective. In other words, we are appealing to Nigerians to utilize religion both vertically and horizontally. In the vertical dimension, Nigerians must see religion as a relationship between man and God. Horizontally, it is mandatory on Nigerians to regard religion as a means of improving relationship among the Adamic chromosome.

There is therefore the need for Nigerians to redesign their religious practices, services, conventions, processions, etc, in such a way that other citizens are not made to suffer any form of hardship, be it inability to sleep due to noisy religious services or free access to the roads due to worshippers’ interference with traffic on the roads.

Every Nigerian, nay every human being came from Adam and Adam came from ordinary dust. All of us shall return to dust and finally to God. We must therefore share love. We must learn to tolerate one another. We must learn to forgive.        

But for the love of God, Nigeria would have caved under in the face of both internal and external conspiracies, hate speeches, treasonable actions, massive killings and destruction of churches and mosques. But Nigeria survived up till now because God is a God of love and He loves this country tremendously. Now that we have survived Boko Haram onslaught is the time to cement Christian-Muslim relationship. We therefore appeal to clerics to preach love and unity.

MURIC notes with serious concern that in spite of the proliferation of churches and mosques, morality is at its lowest ebb in this country.

Morality should therefore be a central theme in messages emanating from places of worship. Governments at both federal and state levels should also support the campaign against falling moral standards by encouraging the teaching of Christian and Islamic studies at all levels in the education sector.

Finally, we charge every Nigerian to cooperate with the Federal Government in its efforts to sanitise the system and enthrone transparency, probity and accountability. Only thus can this great country move forward. We therefore call on religious leaders from both sides to stop hobnobbing with corrupt politicians.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

Monday, December 21, 2015


21st December 2015,

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Major General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, recently commuted the death sentence passed on 66 soldiers to ten years imprisonment each. The soldiers were accused of mutiny and sentenced to death on 17th December, 2014.       

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) hereby commends the COAS for reviewing the case of the soldiers. By this development, the COAS has demonstrated an enviable leadership quality and shown Nigerians that he is ready to listen to complaints and make adjustments where necessary. The COAS and the entire Nigerian Army also deserve accolades for putting Boko Haram on the run after being at the receiving end for a long period under the last administration.

However, we deem it necessary to further advance the cause of the 66 soldiers. We still believe very strongly that they do not deserve additional punishment for two good reasons. Firstly, these soldiers asked to be better equipped before being sent to face insurgents who were better armed. This is only reasonable as dead soldiers cannot protect Nigeria’s territorial integrity.

Secondly, the soldiers have received enough punishment already having been in custody for the past eight months. It is noteworthy that they had allegedly fed themselves during the period.

The case of 54 soldiers out of the 66 is even different because it appears that both the army and the press have lumped them together. It is necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff and put issues in their proper context.

12 soldiers were actually involved in the alleged attempt on the life of their commander while the remaining 54 were those who asked to be properly armed before advancing on the enemy. It was not their first time of engaging the insurgents because they had earlier advanced with their battalion on 9th July, 2014 under Lt. Col K. C. Uwa to recapture Damboa where Boko Haram insurgents had earlier dislodged 195 Battalion. Unfortunately they were ambushed by the terrorists and they lost 23 men and four officers due to inadequate equipment.

Again on 4th August they were asked to advance towards the same Damboa, Deluwa and Bullabilin without any improvement in armament. They had no single armoured car.

They therefore asked for equipments from their commander, Lt. Col. Oporum. They were rounded up for daring to demand arms before engaging a better equipped foe.

The case of the 54 soldiers is therefore another cup of tea and we want Nigerians to understand it so. It is totally different from the 12 soldiers who were later apprehended allegedly for attempting to kill an army general.

The 54 soldiers did not mutiny. They merely asked for weapons. They begged not to be sent on suicide mission fighting hardened terrorists with their bare hands. They were the first group in year 2014 who demanded equipment. They did not open fire on anybody. They are different from those 12 who allegedly opened fire on an army general.

By demanding equipments, the 54 soldiers exposed the monumental corruption which was going on under former President Goodluck Jonathan. In fact, they laid the foundation for the current probes on arms fund. Should we therefore kill the goose that lay the golden eggs?

MURIC appeals to President Muhammadu Buhari as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to grant the soldiers presidential pardon. We are begging Mr. President as the father of all to set these soldiers free and reinstate them. Just as Mr. President has been resolute and hard on corrupt officials, we urge him to be rewarding and lenient on diligent workers, patriotic citizens and gallant soldiers.

Nigerians have spoken with one voice. Various groups are demanding leniency for the 66 soldiers. No single group has blamed them since revelations of corrupt enrichment from the arms fund have started. On the contrary, Nigerians pity these poor soldiers who are being made to pay for the greed and avarice of political gluttons.

MURIC therefore invites President Buhari to grace the scenario like ‘a Daniel come to justice’. Release our heroes from detention. Their freedom will boost the morale of other soldiers who are on the battle field. It will assure them that they have a listening Commander-in-Chief. This will be the real justice, the real change which we all voted for.

In conclusion, we aver that freedom for the 66 soldiers will mean the psychological defeat of Boko Haram as well as a morale booster for Nigerian soldiers fighting insurgents. We must not allow Boko Haram insurgents to rejoice as we kill and punish our soldiers with our own hands. Moreover, Nigerians will see freedom for the 66 soldiers as another victory in the current war against corruption.  

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)