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'
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
REVOKE SHAMSUDEEN BALA’S PERMISSION FOR HAJJ
REVOKE SHAMSUDEEN BALA’S PERMISSION
A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday
granted the son of former Federal Capital Territory (FCT) minister, Shamsudeen
Bala, permission to travel for ‘Umrah (lesser hajj). Bala is standing trial on
charges of money laundering to the tune of N1.2 billion.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) denounces the
permission granted the accused. The trial judge has been misled. It is a
miscarriage of justice and undue indulgence. Permission to travel abroad is
usually given to accused persons on medical grounds. Religion is not strong
enough as reason for granting an accused person leave to travel outside the
This is a flimsy
excuse. The accused is not even going for hajj (pilgrimage) but for ‘Umrah
which is lesser hajj. It is rather unfortunate that Nigerians engage in
reckless abuse of religion and hide behind it to commit atrocities.
Whereas hajj is the last of the five pillars of Islam,
Nigerian Muslims make it their first priority. Whereas hajj is compulsory only
once in a life time, Nigerian Muslims compel themselves to go every year. Whereas
the Qur’an makes it explicitly clear that hajj is only compulsory on those who
have the wherewithal (Glorious Qur’an 3:97), even poverty-stricken Nigerian
Muslims bend over backwards to look for money by all means to travel to Makkah.
It is only hajj officials who should be permitted to go annually.
This is an aberration
and it is an area the Nigerian authorities should focus on. Efforts should be
geared towards proper education of Nigerians about their religions. Inadequate
or improper knowledge about one’s religion is what usually leads to wrong
perception, religious extremism, violence and terrorism.
Whereas ‘Umrah is not
compulsory, thousands of Nigerian Muslims throng to Saudi Arabia to perform it
every year. Many of them repeat the same exercise on an annual basis even
though it costs no less than one million naira for each person. This
constitutes serious drain on the nation’s foreign exchange while it boosts Saudi
MURIC therefore finds no justification whatsoever for somebody
who is on trial for money laundering to seek permission to go on ‘Umrah and for
that frivolous request to be granted. It is sheer misplacement of priorities. Although
Shamsudeen Bala remains innocent until he is found guilty, it appears the
accused is being unduely rewarded for having the temerity to steal Nigeria’s
That N1.2 billion
which is in contention will go a long way in ameliorating the sufferings of
thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North East or pay the
tuition fees of hundreds of indigent students in Nigerian universities. N1
billion is N1 million in one thousand places and we are talking of N1.2
billion, not just N1 billion. It is a fabulous amount of money in a country
where the minimum wage is a paltry N18,000 and many Nigerians do not know what
they will eat tomorrow.
The average Nigerian
lives on less than $1 per day. Our per capita income is less than $300. Nigeria
is the 26th hungriest country in the world. We are the 20th
poorest nation yet the most ‘fantastically corrupt’.
Bala should thank Allah that he is not behind bars. He
should stay at home and pray to Allah from here. Allah is everywhere. He is
near, not far. He is alive, powerful, wonderful. He does not sleep. He hears
the cries of His servants whenever they call Him (Qur’an 2:186, 255) .
Before we round up, we
assert that MURIC will not celebrate corrupt Muslims. They should clear
themselves in the law courts first. We urge the learned judge to revoke the
permission to travel granted Bala. We charge religious leaders to stop idolising
people whose sources of income are uncertain, people of doubtful character and
those facing corruption charges until they are discharged and acquitted. In the
same vein, we should desist from pampering them with chieftaincy and religious
titles, protecting them or seeking to extenuate their offences.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)