Wednesday, February 26, 2014


26th February, 2014

43 students of the Federal Government College in Yobe State were alleged to have been brutally massacred yesterday by members of Boko Haram. Hundreds more were reported killed by the same group in the past few days.

It is barbaric, preposterous and unacceptable. This gruesome killing must not go unpunished. Neither should it go unexplained by the Nigerian Army. Reports reaching us affirm that the killings in the school started from 11.30 pm till in the morning. This is shocking and unbelievable in a state under emergency! Is it a conspiracy? Is it compromise of professionalism? Is it gross ineptitude? The Nigerian Army must explain this. The Federal Government (FG) must go beyond mere condemnation. We are constrained to ask why FG is treating Boko Haram with kid gloves. How can the massacre of innocent Nigerians continue unabated in spite of a state of emergency which has been in place for months? Who is fooling who?

The Nigerian Army top command must provide answers to questions being asked by Nigerians. Why is Boko Haram always attacking when they are supposed to be on the run? Why are our troops always on the defence?

Is it true that Nigerian soldiers merely sit and wait for the group to attack?  Is it also true that there is poor welfare for soldiers posted to the area? Is it true that soldiers in the region use their own money to pay for treatment? Who is keeping sophisticated weapons from reaching Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko Haram?

Is it true that Boko Haram once stole more than 30 trucks of ammunition from the Nigerian Army? How can this happen when military operation demands first and foremost that weapons and ammunitions must be secured? What was the army doing when all these were happening? What happened to 24-hour vigilance around military location and hardware.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is nonplussed at these avoidable massacres. We remind President Jonathan that the buck stops at his table. As the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Jonathan has to explain why the Boko Haram phenomenon still flourishes long after the declaration of emergency rule.

It is our considered opinion that Mr. President lacks the political will to conduct the military campaign against Boko Haram. He is not ready to give it what it takes. To compound the problem, nobody trusts his offer of truce. Nigeria is in a quagmire.

MURIC tasks Jonathan to take urgent steps to crush Boko Haram in order to convince cynics that his perceived nonchalance is not another anti-North agenda. Otherwise why did the president allegedly give a paltry N2 billion to the three states under emergency rule when Niger Delta militants swim in wads of naira notes that make Mount Everest green with envy?

It gives the impression of a tale of two regions: one over-pampered, the other neglected. We warn that those who rejoice in the political and economic debilitation of the North are merely cutting their noses to spite their faces.

Why is the allocation to Niger Delta militants higher that of the army and the police put together in the proposed budget for 2014? The militants got N54 billion while both the military and police received N46 billion. This is appalling! No wonder the army cannot cope with Boko Haram. FG has imposed inferiority complex on its own soldiers.

We affirm that what goes round comes around. This is why Nigerians must unite as one not only in the condemnation of this ugly development but also in fighting it. The promotion of weakness in any region will no doubt contribute to the overall weakness of the country. Fate has brought us all together; so the earlier we face the reality of our conjoined destiny the better for all of us.

MURIC contends that FG has lost focus in the fight against Boko Haram. Dirty politics, promotion of corruption and witch-hunting are taking their tolls on the landlord of Aso Rock. President Jonathan must start addressing the real problems facing this country if we are going to win the war against the Boko Haram insurgents. 180 million Nigerians are waiting anxiously for an enduring solution. This is definitely not the time to play Mr. Jekyll and Hyde.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Motto: Dialogue, Not Violence
10th January, 2014


Presidents and officers of Islamic organizations, Distinguished personalities, Brothers and Sisters in Islam, Great Muricians! Gentlemen of the Press.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Iwo town in the state of Osun is a predominantly Muslim enclave.  It is on record that female Muslim students have been using hijab (head-covering) in public schools in Iwo town. This was as a result of the desire of Muslim parents in the area. The state government has never made any categorical statement on the permissibility or otherwise of the use of hijab. In other words, government has not made any official policy statement banning the use of hijab or approving it.

It must be made clear, ab initio, that the use of hijab by female Muslims is a religious obligation in which the user or her parents have no other choice. We also note with satisfaction that Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees not only freedom of religion but also freedom to manifest and practice it.

It is against this background that we of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) are bewildered by the attitude of the authorities of Baptist High School, Iwo, Osun State, to the subject-matter. Whereas other schools which bear Christian names have been tolerant and liberal, Baptist High School has consistently demonstrated a morbid fascination for depriving female Muslim students of their Allah-given and fundamental right to use hijab.

This is in spite of the fact that the school has an overwhelming Muslim population. The demographic data shows that the total number of students in the school is 2,123. Of this number, Muslims are 69%, Christians 29% while others are 2%.  The number of female students is also 1,167 while male students are 956.

The school’s hostile attitude culminated in the ugly events of Monday 3rd February, 2014 and that of Tuesday, 5th February, 2014. In the Monday incident, three (3) students came to the school wearing ‘celestial’ gowns, twelve (12) wore church choir dresses, twenty one (21) put on tajia caps, two wore Baptist cassocks, seven in royal ambassador garbs, five donned Yoruba caps, three wore Ifa beads while three put on Boys’ Brigade uniform. The following day, Tuesday, a masquerade entered the school and caused great excitement though it ran away when the policemen who were already drafted to the school tried to arrest him.

The State of Osun has, in the past three years, witnessed unprecedented economic growth and moral rejuvenation. Youth employment has given hope to the young indigenes. The concept of ‘omoluabi’ has tremendously transformed the young generation while the humane policy of care for the older citizens has injected a large dose of hope and great expectations among a people long oppressed, a people over-worked, a people over-taxed but a people under-paid.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is not interested in the personality of the state governor. So we are not here to defend him. Neither are we here to blow his trumpet or engage in sycophancy. We also need to emphasize the fact that we are politics-blind.  But as a human rights organization and a member of civil society, we are interested in good governance. All we are looking for in governance is performance and pedigree. We have been vocal in criticizing bad governance everywhere in Nigeria and objectivity demands that we encourage good governance when there is one. This is the case with the present regime in the State of Osun. We have similar examples of good governance in Ondo, Niger and Sokoto.

The performance of this government has jogged our curiousity and we investigated its records.  Through its Osun youth empowerment scheme (OYES) 20,000 youths were employed for the first 100 days in office. It has also pioneered the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme Technology (OYESTECH). In the Agriculture Sector, it established the Agric Youth Academy, Osun Rural Empowerment Agric Programme (O'REAP) and made soft loans available to farmers. In education, the state has promoted functional education, organized an educational summit (2011), introduced a new and dynamic educational policy which culminated into the reclassification of schools, built new and standard classrooms, provided the Tablet of knowledge (OPON IMO), free school uniforms and free meals in schools.

In infrastructure, the state has witnessed the building of new roads and rehabilitation of others where necessary. Rivers have also been channelized. Urban renewal scheme (O’HUB) has changed the aesthetics of big cities. Others are monthly environmental sanitation (O’CLEAN), MKO International Airport at Ido-Osun, three big ultra-modern markets, free train ride from Lagos to Osogbo and back to Lagos during any festival, assistance to transporters, launching of RLG Technology city for the production of phones and Laptops, launching of Omoluabi garment Company, etc.

Gentlemen of the press, you will agree with us that a government that is able to achieve all these within such a short time should not be crucified. The Fourth Estate of the Realm should rise as one to speak for the voiceless and persecuted government of Osun whose only crime is that it has been long in achievement and transparency but short in propaganda and impunity. The least that is expected of the citizens of the State of Osun is to be law-abiding and to cooperate with the state government as a mark of gratitude for its good works and the selflessness and commitment of its unusual, exemplary and altruistic leadership. The recent imbroglio in Iwo town therefore came as a surprise.

It is however clear to discerning minds that what we are witnessing in Baptist High School is the voice of Jacob and the hand of Esau. Ceteris paribus, students cannot, on their own, stage the above hocus pocus. They were obviously playing out a script written by those who have a pathological hatred for female Muslim students using hijab in the school. It is aimed at ridiculing the use of hijab, trivializing it and eventually causing such confusion that will railroad the state government into banning the use of hijab in the state.

We do not need to look far for those behind the mayhem being unleashed on the peace-loving Muslims of Iwo town. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in an interview published in the Punch of Sunday, 9th February, 2014 openly and vehemently admitted that they supported the ridiculous appearance of students in funny robes. Equally didactic is the revelation that one of the students who wore hijab on that day was Mary Ezekiel, obviously a Christian. You may want to wonder what a female Christian student is doing in hijab? Only CAN can answer that question. But all right-thinking Nigerians as well as men and women of conscience know who is causing confusion.

So CAN encouraged Christian students to wear choir robes, Boys Brigade uniforms, etc to school simply because female Muslim students use hijab. But is a choir robe a suitable alternative to or complementary to the school uniform the way the hijab serves as a ‘top’ for the school uniform? Doesn’t the whole world know what the Boys Brigade uniform represents? Is it an alternative to the school uniform? Those behind this charade should examine their consciences.

Christians have enjoyed a Christian uniform imposed on all (including Muslims) for decades. CAN as the legitimate heir and bona fide inheritor of the colonialist slave driver is now prepared to cause confusion in order to retain the Muslims in its slave camp. In order words, rather than set the Muslims free, CAN is prepared to do anything. We put it to CAN that it already has more than enough both from the present and past regimes. The school uniform in use everywhere in Nigeria was originally designed by the British colonial masters. CAN did not complain about it because it was a Christian design and suitable for it. So why should CAN stand between Muslims and the school uniform which is suitable for them?

The story is told of the dog in the manger in Britain. A British man had a dog and a horse. He fed the dog with bones and gave it water until its belly bulged. Then the man turned to the horse and gave it grasses to eat. But instead of allowing the horse to eat the grass, the dog jumped on the grass and started barking, thereby keeping the horse away from its legitimate food. Now what have we learnt from this short story? Though well fed, the dog did not allow the horse to eat the grass which was even useless to him (the dog).It is well known that dogs don’t eat grass. Now what name do we give this dog? The British called it the dog in the manger. Of course a manger in English is a small shed built for horses!

Compare the above to the attitude of CAN on the hijab imbroglio. Christians don’t use hijab, yet CAN stands between the Muslims and their hijab, threatening thunder and brimstone. Shouldn’t we presume that if CAN has its way, it would ban the sewing of hijab in tailors’ shops, its importation and of course the manufacture of hijab materials!

MURIC asserts categorically, emphatically and unequivocally that Muslims in the State of Osun will use every legitimate means available to resist the banning of hijab in public schools in the State of Osun. Instead of banning the use of hijab, we advise the state government to allow the law to take its due course. It is those who infringe upon the fundamental human rights of Muslims who should be cautioned.

To this end, we call the attention of the state government to the fact that any school which discriminates against female Muslim children on account of race, tribe or religion has run foul of the Nigerian Child Rights Act of 2003 and Article 11, 21 and 26 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child 1990 (OAU doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49/1990) of which Nigeria is a signatory.

It is interesting to note that the government of Ekiti State approved the use of hijab last year for female Muslim pupils in public schools via circular No. EK/SSG/01/375 of 12th December, 2013. Governor Kayode Fayemi is a Christian and Muslims constitute only about 40% of the state’s population. So why can’t the Muslims enjoy their rights in Osun State where they have a large majority and the governor is a Muslim?

We commend all other schools who have eschewed religious fanaticism by allowing female Muslim students to use hijab. MURIC believes that Nigeria can be truly great if both Christians and Muslims sink their differences and embrace peace. We have been living together in peace in the South-West for a long time and we wish to continue that way. But this may be difficult to achieve if one group attempts to change the identity of another. To ask us to drop the hijab is akin to asking us to drop Islam and join your faith. We must learn to tolerate one another.

We therefore call on CAN and Baptist High School authorities to acclimatize and stop living in old times. The wind of change is blowing worldwide and the State of Osun should not be different. We urge the authorities of this school to allow peaceful change, to eschew bitterness and rancor and to cooperate with the state government as it makes giant strides and takes people of the State of Osun to Eldorado. Baptist High School needs to open its doors wide and accommodate all cultures without discrimination or a desire to turn others into victims of the colonial master’s tortuous method of assimilation. We extend our hands of friendship and love to the school’s authorities and look forward to cordial relations in future in the interest of all our children.

The colonial master who met Islam on arrival in the 19th century uprooted all vestiges of Islam and compelled Muslims who were interested in Western education to convert to Christianity. This explains why many Muslim parents ignored Western education. The school uniform which was designed by the Christian colonial master is what is still being used till today. Muslims have been demanding the use of hijab for decades. It is only reasonable that this demand is officially approved in view of the fact that Nigeria is no longer under colonial rule. All aspects of our education policy should have been reviewed after 1960 if indeed independence means freedom.

MURIC affirms that Nigeria’s independence remains a sham as long as Nigerians still cannot think like Nigerians while our democracy is a fraud if it cannot be inclusive. All aspects of our life must be participatory, not exclusive. For peace to reign, there must be evidence of the presence of all the religions and ethnic groups in all the important landmarks of Nigeria’s existence.

As far as we are concerned, Muslims are still marginalized in Osun. We are tired of the domination of the Christian minority who use blackmail to ensure that the status quo, i.e. the situation as it was during colonial days, remains. We strongly contend that status quo is not synonymous with equal rights, justice and freedom.

MURIC therefore calls on the government of the State of Osun, a state where Muslims are predominant in the population, to pursue the path of justice by integrating Muslims in the system along with their Christian counterparts and other important stakeholders. We reiterate our commitment to justice, equal rights and fair play. We demand as of right, not as a priviledge, that the government of the State of Osun should issue a circular similar to the one issued by the Ekiti State government expressly approving the use of hijab in all public schools. 

What will the Muslims cite as their own dividend of democracy after a century of colonial rule and decades of military dictatorship? What will the Muslims mention as their gain from the present regime in the State of Osun if the government cannot approve the use of hijab? When will the enslavement of the Muslim majority by the Christian minority end? We regard the official approval of hijab (when the government deems it fit to do so) as the Muslims’ dividend of democracy. We put it to CAN that it has repeatedly twisted the hands of this government and blackmailed it for its selfish ends. 

Or is it not this government that gave N35 million to Christians to build a mausoleum for Pastor Obadare? Has any Muslim group enjoyed such largesse? Is it not this same government that approved the construction of a multi-denominational Christian worship center? We have it on good record that the governor also supported the Baptist Mission during their last convention in the state. On the contrary, the governor hardly has time for Muslims in the state. But for the patience and understanding of the latter, relationship between them and the governor would have been frosty.

Muslims have just four out of a total of fourteen (14) commissioners. The rest are Christians. Of the thirty three (33) permanent secretaries, the Christians have twenty five (25), only eight are Muslims. So who is really benefitting from this government? Is it not ironical that CAN will still turn round to say this governor is Islamising the state? Talk of the pot calling the kettle black!

 For the avoidance of doubts, we are not asking for a change that will deny others of their rights, non-Muslims must be free to use the school uniform of their choice. We will not impose our choice on others even though they have imposed their own on us for a whole century. The time to do it is now. Nigeria is celebrating the centenary of its amalgamation. Osun must let the Muslims go this year. This is our song, the song of freedom. Let the Muslims go!

Liberation theology in Islamic political thought necessitates freedom for all sides. In the interest of peace and justice, those who seek freedom must not lord it on others at the point of emancipation. MURIC will not hesitate to condemn any Muslim leader who attempts to enslave non-Muslims, e.g. by forcing non-Muslim students to use hijab. The Glorious Qur’an forbids oppression and it commands Muslims to shun tyranny (Qur’an 6:21; 7:44). Therefore we will not try to give others what we cannot take. All we are saying, Let the Muslims Go!

Above all, we appeal to those behind the current topsy-turvy in the school to desist in order to put to rest the fear being expressed in some circles that they are doing it because the governor is a Muslim. This will set a dangerous precedent. Governors come and governors go, but people of the state will still be there (at least until Doomsday).

We remind a section of the press that has beamed its negative searchlight on the state to do a rethink. We do not expect to find any member of the Fourth Estate of the Realm standing at cross-purposes with the principles of justice, freedom and equal rights. Whereas truth is held sacred by journalists, we are nonplussed that a section of the press would consistently and ferociously attack the most dynamic governor Nigeria ever had, a governor who declares responsibility as a trust, a governor who shuns sirens on the roads and declares pomp and pageantry non grata. It may not be so ethical for the press to blindly pursue an agenda on religious ground to the extent that a performing governor is run aground on account of his faith.

Finally, we appeal to Muslims throughout the length and breadth of the State of Osun to remain calm in spite of the provocative stance of the authorities of Baptist High School. We urge them to remain peaceful and law abiding and to cooperate with the state government in all its programmes in order to engender peace and economic growth in the state.

Long Live the State of Osun.

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


10th February, 2014

The Yoruba Committee on National Conference met two days ago at the Isara-Remo, Ogun State-home of an elder statesman, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, to strategise on the selection of delegates for the South-West geopolitical zone ahead of the National Conference.

Some of the prominent Yoruba leaders at the meeting were Sir Olaniwun Ajayi (host); Chief Olu Falae; Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State; Gen. Alani Akinrinade (rtd.); Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti; former presidential candidate, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite; Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; Pastor Tunde Bakare; Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi (rtd.) and Archbishop Ayo Ladigbolu.    

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) perturbed that there is no single Muslim among the prominent Yoruba leaders who attended the meeting. It gives room for suspicion. Such a gathering lacks balance. It is not only parochial but also myopic. They should be able to look ahead. Are they saying there are no Muslims in Yorubaland?

Governor Mimiko (Ondo) was there. He is a Christian. What of Governors Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Isiaka Ajimobi (Oyo), Iklil Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and Raji Fashola (Lagos) who are all Muslims? Why were they not invited? Is it because they are Muslims?

Why was the attendance heavily tainted with Christian clerics? A prominent pastor was there with a bishop and an archbishop whereas there was no single Imam. Where are the Imams and Sheikhs of Yorubaland?

The Yoruba Committee on National Conference has started on a wrong footing. They should realize that the world is changing and they should allow that change to reflect. Gone are those days when decisions are taken without consulting Muslims. Muslim docility has become history. Nigerian Muslims have donned the garb of proactiveness.

It is a coup against Muslims. The Committee is on its own. We reject its deliberations and whatever the outcome may have been. For it to be credible and relevant, it must convene another meeting where Muslims will be well represented. At least the likes of Professor Daud Noibi, Executive Secretary of the Muslim Ummah of South-West Nigeria (MUSWEN); Shaykh Zughlool, founder and proprietor of Daar ad-Da’wah, Isolo, Lagos and Shaykh Habeebullahi Al-Ilori of Markaz, Agege should be there. These three alone are renowned Islamic clerics and they would have balanced the list and made it acceptable.

Alhaji Abdul Azeez Arisekola Alao, the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland and Vice President-General of the whole South West of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs is the undisputable leader of Muslims in Yorubaland. Any meeting of Yoruba leaders without his presence is a charade. Others are former Minister of Works and President of the Ansarud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Alhaji Femi Okunnu; foremost industrialist, Chief S. O. Babalola and Chief Bola Babalakin. Anyone who claims that he does not know these Muslim leaders is being economical with reality but extravagant in imagination.

The notion of a Christian South is misleading. Islam had been in Yorubaland more than a hundred years before the British bombarded Lagos in 1851. Today, Muslims form a large majority in Yorubaland. Any attempt, therefore, to take a stand among the Yoruba on the proposed National Conference without due recognition for and consultation of prominent Yoruba Muslim leaders and scholars is not only an exercise in futility but also autocratic and therefore unacceptable.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


5th February, 2014

The leader of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF), Alhaji Mujaheeden Asari Dokubo, on Tuesday threatened to make Nigeria ungovernable unless President Jonathan secures a second term ticket in the 2015 presidential election. He also asked politicians from the North to steer clear of the presidency.

We are greatly perturbed that a threat of this magnitude is emanating at a time so close to the 2015 election time. As a human rights organization committed to the promotion of dialogue with its resultant peaceful environment and the avoidance of violence in all its ramifications, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is constrained to ask President Jonathan if Asari Dokubo is speaking for the presidency or if he has the tacit approval of Mr. President. We call President Jonathan’s attention to the dangers inherent in threats issued publicly in a country as volatile as Nigeria.

While this is not the first time such a threat is issued, we are bewildered by the silence and inaction of the security agencies each time Asari Dokubo issues one of his threats. We are shocked to our marrows that Nasir El-Rufai was harassed and finally detained for hours for allegedly making a ‘provocative’ statement just a few days ago whereas nothing happens when Asari Dokubo threatens law and order. Interestingly enough, El-Rufai’s statement was on the same theme: the 2015 general election. Our security agencies must eschew double standard in order to win the confidence of the general public.

MURIC therefore appeals to President Jonathan to call Asari Dokubo to order. A statement from the presidency on this issue is of strategic importance at this material time in the history of our dear nation. Silence will tantamount to tacit approval, nay, executive impunity.

Allah commands justice and righteousness (Qur’an 16:90). Allah also says, “O you who believe, stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin” (Qur’an 4:135).

We reiterate for the avoidance of doubt, MURIC as a human rights organization is not witch-hunting any political party or individual. We are concerned about peace and stability in our dear country. Silence over critical issues is harmful to ourselves as well as to the polity. It is the duty of religious groups to speak out in these hard times. The Qur’an already warns that homo sapiens should beware of looming troubles because such troubles may consume even the innocent (Qur’an 8:25).

Past experience has shown that it is even the poor who suffer most each time this country is engulfed in crisis.

Schools and markets cannot open. Workers cannot go to their places of work. Petrol stations are shut. Hunger and disease stare the poor in the face. It is like the parable of the fight between two elephants when the grass must suffer the consequences.  

We want peace. We therefore appeal to all stakeholders to sheath their swords. We call on our respected elder statesmen to consult the presidency on this matter in the interest of peace and stability.  

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)