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'
Friday, December 23, 2016
CHRISTMAS MESSAGE: CHRISTIAN CLERICS SHOULD SPEAK OUT ON FIREWORKS
CLERICS SHOULD SPEAK OUT ON FIREWORKS
Nigerian Christians will join their counterparts all over the
world to celebrate Christmas tomorrow, Sunday 25th December, 2016.
The Muslim Rights
Concern (MURIC) wishes Nigerian Christians a peaceful and happy celebration.
As we send our goodwill message, we find it necessary to tell
ourselves some hard truths. While every Nigerian wishes to enjoy the Christmas
holidays in a peaceful and crime-free environment, we must deliberately work
towards creating a conducive atmosphere for peaceful celebration.
In this regard, we
call attention to the terrifying fireworks phenomenon which always characterizes
yuletide and its implications for crime and peaceful celebration of Christmas.
Our observations are devoid of any religious prejudice. They are borne out of
sincere concern for the safety of Nigerians, particularly for a successful and
peaceful Christmas celebration.
Firecrackers often cause real fire outbreaks leading to loss of
lives and properties. They also cause injuries to the users and their
neighbours. Fireworks also aid crime. This is why the Nigerian Police always warns
citizens to avoid using it. Although this warning is always repeated
particularly around yuletide, it has remained unheeded up till now.
We are surprised that churches have remained silent over this
potent threat for a long time. We remind Christian leaders that church-goers
are also possible victims of violent crime. It is therefore high time Christian
clerics showed interest and speak out against the use of fireworks during
yuletide. There is likely to be a change of attitude if churches speak out
against it. This is how religious leaders can help in combating crime in
We all want to enjoy peace in our homes. This can only be
possible if the rate of crime is reduced. But the police cannot fight crime
alone. They need information from citizens. Unfortunately the use of knockouts
For instance, robberies
can be nipped in the bud if neighbours hear the sound of gunshots and call the
police. But this becomes almost impossible in communities where knockouts are
used indiscriminately. This is so because knockouts sound exactly like gunshots
and people mistake real gunshots for knockouts. Therefore nobody will call the
police and criminals get away with their loot. Even policemen on patrol also
find it difficult to distinguish between real gunshots and knockouts. This is
how knockouts militate against quick response by the security agencies.
Armed robbery and kidnapping are the most common and most
devastating crimes in the Nigerian society today. Therefore something should be
done if we can identify the use of knockouts as a social cankerworm which aids
and abets these two deadly crimes in a particular season.
We note with serious concern that both adults and children
indulge in this pastime. Parents even give their children money to purchase
firecrackers. This is not only infantile but runs contrary to all known
principles of loco parentis. We appeal to Nigerian parents to behave
responsibly and to guide their children towards productive habits.
Petty traders are advised to divert their capital to productive
merchandise and desist from trading in goods capable of facilitating armed
robbery, killing, maiming and kidnapping. The next victim may be members of the
The security agencies should also be more proactive by fishing
out distributors and sellers of fireworks and prosecuting them. This will act
as deterrent for others.
While this may be seen as tackling the symptoms and not the disease,
we need to go to the root of the matter. Where do the fireworks products come
from? Who manufactures them? How do they enter this country? This is where our
customs men at the nation’s sea ports and land boarders must come in. Bundles
of fireworks which are later sold on the streets do not descend from the sky.
They remain illegal goods and should not be allowed to come in through our
The Federal Government has a role to play here because the buck
stops at its table. Somebody must pay and must really be seen to have paid for
any laxity on this matter. It is about the life of Nigerians and it should be
taken seriously. Heads must roll at the customs if banned products still find
their way into the country.
On a final note,
we call for more cordial relationship between Christians and Muslims in
Nigeria. Religion without love is sheer cultism. We must learn to peacefully
coexist, to love, to tolerate and to forgive one another.
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)