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, June 5, 2016
GIVE THE 54 SOLDIERS RAMADAN PARDON
5th June, 2016,
BUHARI SHOULD PARDON THE 54 SOLDIERS IN THIS MONTH OF MERCY
Nigerian Muslims will
start the Ramadan fast today, Monday, 6th June, 2016 following the
sighting of the crescent as announced by His Eminence, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar
III, the Sultan of Sokoto.
The Muslim Rights Concern
(MURIC) seizes the opportunity of Ramadan being divinely recognized as the
month of mercy to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to grant presidential
pardon to the 54 soldiers who are presently serving ten year jail term ostensibly
for refusing to fight Boko Haram insurgents.
It will be recalled that
the 54 soldiers were sentenced to death in December 2014 before this was
commuted to ten years imprisonment each in December 2015 by the Chief of Army
Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai. Nigerians have since learnt that the
soldiers merely asked to be properly armed before advancing on the enemy.
The ongoing armsgate
trials have revealed that Nigerian soldiers were actually deprived of arms at
the time while the top echelon diverted money meant for the procurement of arms
to the pockets of politicians. This may have informed the decision of the COAS
to commute the death sentence of the 54 soldiers to imprisonment.
Leveraging on the Ramadan
season as the divinely acknowledged month of mercy (rahmah), MURIC hereby
appeals for presidential pardon for the soldiers. Like Portia in Shakespeare’s
Merchant of Venice (Act IV, Scene I), we remind Mr. President that “The quality
of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the
place beneath; it is twice blest; it blesseth him that gives and him that takes…”
According to Prophet
Muhammad (peace be upon him), “The beginning of Ramadan is a blessing, its
middle is forgiveness while its end is freedom”. We appeal to the president to
allow these three qualities of Ramadan (blessing, forgiveness and freedom) to
reflect fully in his actions and utterances during this Ramadan, particularly regarding
the case of the 54 soldiers.
There is no gainsaying that
Nigeria is in dire need of prayers today. We are plagued with the problems of
insecurity, insurgency, militancy and separatist propensities. Our leaders
always ask religious leaders to pray for the country. Our Imams are praying.
Our pastors are also praying. But the best assurance that Allah will answer
this country’s prayers is for our leaders to show remorse and seek Allah’s
forgiveness for our collective trespasses. So what better way is there to seek
Allah’s forgiveness than by first forgiving our own perceived offenders?
Mr. President, a nation
that seeks divine blessing must first purge itself of its judicial wrongdoings.
We contend that the 54 soldiers and many other prisoners are innocent souls.
They cry night and day. They may not be cursing Nigeria but they hardly pray
for her. Set these innocent souls free and see how the doors of heaven open
unto your administration.
We also appeal to state governors
and chief justices to seize the opportunity of this month of mercy to visit prisons
and set large numbers of prisoners free. In particular, we call for freedom for
all female prisoners, no matter their religious leaning. Islam has special
regard for the womenfolk. They have no business being in prisons.
This is one of the steps
which our leaders must take to secure istijaabah
(Allah’s positive response to prayers). It will show that we as Nigerians
confess our sins before Allah. We are showing remorse, asking for forgiveness.
We are forgiving those who actually offended us collectively as well as our
perceived offenders. Perchance Allah will close the doors of our country’s
travails and open the doors of peace, blessings and abundant prosperity for our
country. Nigeria will be great again. Aamiin.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)