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, October 25, 2017
MURIC REJECTS WAHEB’S ANTI-MUSLIM TIME TABLE
25th October, 2017
REJECTS WAHEB’S ANTI-MUSLIM TIME TABLE
The West African Health Examination Board (WAHEB) which was
established in 1925 has scheduled its next examination for Friday 3rd
November, 2017. WAHEB is the regulatory body in charge of Schools of Health Technology
and Hygiene in Nigeria. The body organises qualifying exams for schools of
health technology in the country. Its time-table shows that one of its papers
will start 12-30 pm and end by 3 pm on 3rd November, 2017.
Rights Concern (MURIC) strongly condemns WAHEB’s examination time table because
it clashes with the period of Muslim Friday prayer (Jum’ah). It is illegal,
unlawful and unconstitutional. It is equally provocative, callous and capable
of causing the breakdown of law and order.
Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria
person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,
including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone
or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and
propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance’’
There is no gainsaying the fact that WAHEB’s time table has
violated both the letter and spirit of the above constitutional provision by scheduling
a paper for 12 pm to 3 pm on Friday, 3rd November, thereby preventing
Muslim candidates from the ‘practice and observance’ of Jum’ah prayer. This
act constitutes a serious threat to peace, law and order.
The tradition of the board had been to either schedule only
one paper on Fridays or schedule two papers from 9 am - 11:30 am and from 2:30 pm
to 5 pm so as to allow Muslims to attend Friday prayer between 1:00 pm and 2:30
pm. This had been the practice of the immediate past registrar, Mr. E. B.
Asoto. But the current registrar, Mrs. Gladys Nchelem Ihunda has for the past
three years allegedly re-scheduled the body’s examinations between 12.30 pm and
3 pm on Fridays thereby targeting Muslim candidates for religious persecution,
spiritual deprivation and psychological trauma.
Section 42 of 1999 Constitution of
Nigeria also provides:
(1) A citizen of Nigeria of a
particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political
opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical
application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative
action of the government (or its agencies-addition ours), to disabilities or restrictions
to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of
origin, sex, religion or political opinions are not made subject.
In the same vein, Section 13 of the Code of Conduct Bureau
and Tribunal Act (1991) which provides, “a public officer shall not do or
direct to be done, in abuse of his office, any act prejudicial to the rights of
any person knowing that such act is unlawful or contrary to any government
calls on the Minister of Education to, among other things, order the immediate
review of WAHEB’s time table, investigate the circumstances surrounding the
manipulation of the board’s time table in such a way that it runs counter to
the provisions of the law and puts the nation to peril and find out the extent of
the responsibility and culpability of Mrs. Gladys Nchelem Ihunda in this matter
taking cognizance of Section 13 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act
Peace will continue to elude Nigeria until those who ignite
conflagrations are held accountable. Therefore no attempt should be made by the
Ministry of Education to sweep this matter under the carpet. Nigerian examination
bodies are known for targeting Muslim candidates for persecution.
For example, the West African Examinations Council (WAEC)
was embroiled in a similar religious oppression scandal when it scheduled one
of its examinations to take place during Jum’ah period about a year ago while
a WAEC official allegedly removed the hijab of a female Muslim candidate (Miss
Khadijat Anisere). We demanded apology but WAEC refused to apologise to date.
Let it be on
record, therefore, that Nigerian examination bodies are deliberately provoking
Muslim candidates. But in general, what it means is that Christians in
positions of authority use such positions to prevent Muslims from enjoying
their Allah-given fundamental human rights. The patience and maturity being exercised
by Muslims should not be mistaken for cowardice. On the contrary, examination bodies
and governments should note that everything has a limit. Those who take actions
capable of provoking Muslims must be held responsible for the consequences of
any future breakdown of law and order.
That is why it is necessary for the Minister of Education
to act with dispatch on this issue. The advent of social media has made matters
like this highly sensitive and volatile as this story about WAHEB has gone
viral among Muslims throughout the country. Others will be deterred from
wicked, petty and fanatical obsession if a scapegoat can be made of the current
registrar, Mrs. Gladys Nchelem Ihunda. Nigeria does not need officials who
cannot rise above primordial sentiments. We must learn to do the right things
at the right times.
MURIC reminds Nigerians of the anatomy of terrorism and
religious violence. Those who blame Muslims for religious violence have one or
two lessons to learn here. It is repeated persecution like the one being
suffered by Nigerian Muslims which often leads to violent reactions and
terrorist acts. Violence and terrorism are mere smoke and there can never be
fire without smoke. However, the real fire which causes the smoke called
terrorism is persecution and denial. The Aristotelian theory of causality
posits that actions beget reactions. All along, Nigerians have been addressing
the symptom, leaving the real disease to spread like wild fire.
Religious crisis is rampant in Nigeria because ours is a society
where Muslims are frequently forced to make a choice between their career and
their religion. Unfortunately the Federal Government (FG) ignores the cries of
Muslim victims. Intimidation of Muslims by their non-Muslim bosses is the order
of the day. Here are the five evils Chamberlain spoke about: brute force, bad
faith, injustice, oppression and persecution. MURIC says enough is enough. Set
the minaret free. Let the Muslims go.
This ugly development serves as a good example for the need
for FG to declare Friday a work-free day. Christians are not suffering the way Muslims
are suffering in this country. Can WAHEB or any other examination body schedule
any of its examinations on a Sunday? Has any Christian been prevented from
going to church on Sunday the way Muslims are being prevented from going to the
mosque on Friday? It is not possible because Sunday is a work-free day. The solution therefore is in the hands of FG. No
Christian boss will be able to persecute Muslims on Fridays once it is declared
work-free. FG must therefore do the needful. Muslims are enslaved in
present-day Nigeria. Give us Friday. Break the shackle of repression around
Muslims’ wrists and ankles. The proposed restructuring exercise must address
this once and for all.
We warn against the scheduling of meetings, political
rallies, conventions, elections, programmes and activities on Fridays, at least
until FG declares Friday free. In the education sector in particular, we advise
schools, colleges and institutions of higher learning to desist from holding
lectures, tests, examinations, debates, seminars, workshops and symposia
between 12 noon and 3 pm on Friday. It has been discovered that such meetings
are deliberately fixed for Fridays either to prevent Muslims from attending Jum’ah
or to deny Muslims the right of participating in crucial issues while vital
decisions are taken in their absence if they leave for the mosque.
Our members in all states of the federation have been
instructed to closely monitor those who flout these constitutional provisions
and report same to us. While we remain faithful to our principle of
non-violence, we warn that justice is the soul of peace. Those who deny one can
never have the other.
As we round up, we
implore Nigerian Muslims to remain calm and law-abiding as we hope that the
Minister of Education will do the needful before the November 3 examination is
taken. Even after that date, Muslims should desist from taking the law into
their hands. MURIC has the capacity to use the instrumentality of the law to
stop illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional examinations and also take good
care of the irresponsible and unpatriotic officials behind them, using the same
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)