Rights Concern (MURIC),
No. 11, Iba Expressway,
Iba, Lagos State
National Judicial Institute,
Mohammed Bello Center,
Adjacent Jabi Junction Fly-over,
P.M.B. 5020 Wuse,
MEMORANDUM OF THE MUSLIM RIGHTS CONCERN (MURIC)
TO THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is a human rights organization
which promotes Allah-given and fundamental rights of Muslims in particular and
that of all Nigerians in general. We believe that all human rights were first
guaranteed by the Supreme Creator, Allah, before homo sapiens sought to
incorporate them in man-made laws. Any infringement on the right of man is
therefore a sin before Almighty Allah and a violation of the laws made by men.
MURIC is a pacific organization. We are peace-loving,
law-abiding and dialogue-prone. We detest violence and this is why our motto
is: ‘Dialogue, Not Violence’. As a major mechanism in our operations, we
open dialogue with institutions, employers and agencies in order to intervene
on behalf of aggrieved Muslims. This has often doused tension in Nigeria and
reduced the incidence of spontaneous violence.
In the anatomy of terrorism, we affirm that there is a
symbiotic relationship between provocation, injustice, violence and terrorism. Injustice
or denial of rights leads to provocation while the latter leads to violence or
acts of terror. Justice is the soul of peace. Those who deny one cannot
enjoy the other.
MURIC asserts that the anatomy of terrorism cannot be
wholly grasped until we examine the cause-effect theory. Terrorism is mere
smoke and as it is well known that there can be no smoke without fire, there
can be no act of terror without a reason. We posit that provocation, injustice,
oppression and persecution are the fires which cause the smoke called
A good firefighter will not point his hose at the smoke
(terrorists). He focuses his attention on the fire (those who make provocative
statements; officials who stigmatize Muslims and those who deny Muslims the
rights enjoyed by others and violate Allah-given and fundamental rights of
Muslims). The smoke will disappear the moment the fire is extinguished. Equal
rights and justice are the solutions to religious violence and terrorism.
We enumerate below those instances and areas where Muslims
are provoked, stigmatized and persecuted.
2014 NATIONAL CONFERENCE
2.1.0 STATEMENT OF FACTS
Of the world population of
7,021,836,029 (July 2012 estimate), Christians are 2.1 billion representing
31.5%, Muslims are 1.6 billion representing 23.2% (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_religious_populations) . The religious demography in Nigeria currently stands at
50% Muslim, 40% Christian and Atheists 10% according to http://www.nairaland.com/274676/nigerian-population-muslim-christian-whats. This position is strengthened by the CIA World Factbook (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ni.html2014). Even those who do not agree that Muslims are in the
majority in Nigeria have never said Christians are in the majority. For
instance, Wikipedia contends that Nigeria is roughly divided in half between
Christians, who mostly live in the South and central parts of the country, and
Muslims, concentrated mostly in the North. See
spite of the above glaring facts, and in spite of pre-national conference
assurances, the Federal Government perpetrated open injustice by selecting only
184 Muslims as against 309 Christian delegates. This does not reflect the true
population distribution of Nigeria’s religious groups.
ISSUES FROM THE STATEMENT OF FACTS:
There is no gainsaying the fact that
by its failure to ensure equity and justice in the composition of a National
Conference which is expected to right wrongs and address burning issues in this
country, the Federal Government itself has started on a wrong footing. It has
failed to gain the confidence of Muslims who form an integral part of the
country. Muslims who are already at the receiving end of the violation of
Allah-given and fundamental human rights cannot expect justice from the outcome
of the conference
IN SUPPORT OF THE ISSUE FOR DETERMINATION:
Justice is the soul of peace.
Justice must be done in order to give Muslims a sense of belonging. Democracy
must be inclusive, not exclusive.
AND PRAYERS SOUGHT:
We seek two reliefs.
no matter how far the conference has gone, additional number of Muslims should be invited to join
the national conference. This may be a token number of at least 50. This is in line with the promise made by President
Goodluck Jonathan when a Muslim delegation met him to complain about the
lopsidedness in the composition of delegates to the national conference.
the principle of equal representation between Christians and Muslims must be
observed in appointments to all committees of the national conference.
FREEDOM OF RELIGION:
Although the 1999 constitution of
the Federal Republic of Nigeria affirms freedom of religion in principle,
Nigerian Muslims have found this to be deceitful as they are confronted on a
daily basis with religious discrimination, persecution and denial of their
Allah-given and fundamental human rights.
OF MUSLIMS BY IMMIGRATION OFFICIALS:
We state by way of example how the fundamental rights of
Muslims are encroached upon in Immigration offices all over the country.
Immigration officials engage in regular stereotyping of Muslims who apply for
international passports. They intimidate Muslims particularly at the point of
taking pictures in the following ways:
Muslim males are ordered to remove their caps;
Imams are coerced into removing their turbans;
Bearded Muslims are compelled to shave or trim their beards;
Hijab-wearing Muslim women are made to remove their hijabs
Or ordered to draw their hijab backwards to reveal their ears.
MUSLIMS BY OFFICIALS OF NATIONAL IDENTITY MANAGEMENT COMMISSION
Like their counterparts in the immigration department,
officials of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) openly usurp
Allah-given and fundamental rights of Muslims by insisting that Muslim women
must remove their hijabs while they order Muslim males to remove their caps and
turbans. Worse still, they refuse to register Muslim names and insist on using
the middle names supplied by Muslims. MURIC’s Save-Our-Soul petition to NIMC
office was ignored for several days of the tyrannical exercise in 2003 until
Muslims were constrained to stage peaceful protests to the NIMC office. The
same apartheid treatment is being meted out to Muslims in the ongoing 2014 I.
D. card registration exercise.
FROM THE STATEMENTS OF FACTS:
As a result of this obnoxious and
illegal practice, thousands of Muslims have been scared away from applying for
travelling documents. By discriminating against Muslims in the Immigration
department, the former are robbed of immense opportunities in the areas of
education, economic empowerment, international exposure, etc. Also, by ordering
Muslims to jettison their religious identities before their pictures can be
captured and rejecting Muslim names in their records, NIMC officials succeed in
falsifying Nigeria’s demographic data in favour of Christianity.
IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES:
There is no law in Nigeria which
supports the profiling of Muslims by immigration officials. Every Nigerian
citizen has a right to possess an international passport and nothing should be
done to stop any law-abiding citizen from obtaining international travelling
documents. There is also no existing legal document which stipulates that
Muslims should be robbed of their religious identity before they can be given
an international passport. In addition, NIMC officials have no documentary
backing for usurping the fundamental rights of Muslims. Their falsification of
Nigeria’s demographic data in favour of Christianity is also a criminal act
capable of igniting religious uprising. Muslims who were forced to remove their
caps or hijab have been exposed to unimaginable embarrassment, excruciating
psychological trauma and outright deprivation each time they attempt to use the
same I. D. cards in banks and other public places. The discrimination against
Muslims is an open invitation to chaos, a launching pad for the breakdown of
law and order and an efficient recruitment sergeant for religious terrorism.
Department of Immigrations should issue a circular to all its offices
nationwide warning its officials to stop stigmatizing Muslims.
Nigerian law should criminalise the denial of international travelling
documents to law-abiding citizens on account of religious appearance or
NIMC should issue a general circular
to all its branches demanding immediate stop of the obnoxious practice of
religious profiling by its agents.
All Muslims who had earlier been
denied access to image capturing for national identity cards or those who have
been forced to take I. D. card pictures without their caps, turbans or hijab
should be allowed to come forward for another exercise while fully exercising
their Allah-given and fundamental human rights.
DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF MUSLIMS DURING VOTERS REGISTRATION EXERCISES
suffer massive disenfranchisement each time there is a voters’ registration
officials simply refuse to allow cap-wearing or turban-wearing Muslim males and
their hijab-wearing female counterparts to take pictures for the voters’ cards.
This was most pronounced during the registration exercise for the 2011 general
MURIC’s office was inundated with
petitions from aggrieved Muslims while we received a tornado of telephone calls
from registration centers. Thousands of Muslims lodged complaints of religious
profiling against agents of the Independent National Electoral Commission
(INEC) who disallowed them from getting registered on account of their
FROM STATEMENT OF FACTS
Consequently, these law-abiding and tax-paying
Nigerians were not allowed to vote. Yet their only crime was that they were
Muslims. Though naturally agitated, MURIC was able to douse the tension by
promising to contact the authorities and get redress. We were able to convince
them of the need to comply with the true teaching of Islam, namely, peaceful
conduct, tolerance and patience in the face of provocation. But the glaring
fact was that those who were disenfranchised were Muslims in their thousands. This
tantamounts to the manipulation of the process of election in favour of the
candidate of a particular religion. The Muslim candidate lost the election. It
is a sophisticated form of election rigging and it is further proof that the
2011 presidential election was not free and fair.
IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES
Here are the real ingredients of
religious violence and terrorism. The issuance of voters’ registration exercise
is sine qua non for voting. It is a major condition for the actualization of
one-man-one-vote. Denial of same facilitates dictatorship and electoral fraud.
Democracy is fraudulent if it is non-participatory. At the same time, citizens
who are disenfranchised are likely to become frustrated and may vent their
spleen through violence.
AND RELIEFS SOUGHT
Prospective voters in future elections
must be allowed to wear apparels of their choice during registration exercises so
long as they are not naked.
Nigerians enjoy a total of eight (8)
public holidays in a year. These are Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year Day,
Good Friday, Easter Monday, Id al-Kabir, Id al-Fitr and Maulud an-Nabiyy.
(5) of the eight holidays belong to Christians (Christmas Day, Boxing Day, 1st
January, i.e, New Year Day, Good Friday and Easter Monday). Only three (3)
holidays belong to Muslims, viz, Id al-Kabir, Id al-Fitr and Maulud an-Nabiyy.
FROM THE STATEMENTS OF FACTS:
is open inequality in the issue of holidays in Nigeria particularly if there is
evidence that Muslims who have less need more (and they do). Nigerian Muslims
have been clamouring for the declaration of 1st Muharram of the
Hijrah calendar to be declared as a public holiday for decades. Government have
not deemed it fit to listen. The Muslims therefore have a feeling of rejection,
marginalization, denial of the dividends of democracy and lack of sense of
IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES
has a duty in loco parentis to treat all groups equally. Government is
the father of all. A government that favours one religious group above the
other cannot expect social harmony. Justice is the Soul of Peace. No one can
deny one and still enjoy the other in the same way that none can eat his cake
and still have it. In the interest of peace, this national conference must
visit the injustice perpetrated by the British colonialists against Nigerian
1st Muharram of the
Hijrah calendar must be declared a public holiday to bring the total number of
public holidays enjoyed by Muslims to four (4) while the Christians continue to
enjoy a higher number of five (5) public holidays.
Nigeria has a two-day weekend, viz,
Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday was a half day during the
colonial era and Sunday was the only full day at the weekend. However, Saturday
was made a full day during the regime of General Yakubu Gowon, a Christian
military ruler. It is also pertinent to say that Sunday is the Christian day of
worship generally while Saturday is the day recognized as the day of worship by
the Seventh Day Adventists, a Christian denomination.
ARISING FROM STATEMENTS OF THE FACTS
It is very clear, therefore, that
the two weekend days recognized in Nigeria belong to Christians while Muslims
have none since Friday, the Muslim day of worship, remains a working day. The
British colonialists, being Christians, designed the weekend days to suit their
religion at the expense of Islam.
IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES
Something must be done urgently to
address the gross imbalance in the Nigerian weekend affair. We cannot forget
our history because today was born from the wombs of yesterday. Islam has been
in Nigeria since the 11th century and the British met Islam on
ground when they arrived in the 19th century (800 years later). If
the British did not deem it fit to observe the rules of natural justice when
they picked the days of Nigeria’s weekend, the need for building a just society
in order to foster peace compels a review of the status quo.
Muslims’ Friday should be declared free to assume parity with the Christians’ Sunday
In the alternative and to avoid the
tortuous technicalities involved in 6.5.1 above, Friday should be made a half day (like Saturday in
colonial days) in which case all workers will close by 12 noon on Fridays
throughout the Federation. This will give the Christians two (2) days (Saturday
and Sunday) while Muslims have just half a day.
NIGERIAN MARRIAGE ACT 1990
Islamic clerics conduct marriages
for Muslims while Christian marriages are conducted by Christian clerics.
Christian marriages contracted
inside churches or registries are held sacrosanct everywhere in Nigeria whereas
Muslim marriages (nikah) are not recognized for any official purpose.
FROM STATEMENTS OF THE FACT
It is paradoxical for one marriage
conducted by a Nigerian religious group to be acceptable while the other is
not. It breeds contempt, ill-feeling and bad blood. These are inconsistent with
the yearnings and aspirations of a people struggling to peacefully coexist. It
smirks more of the South African apartheid scenario.
ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES
Peace resides where justice has a
Islamic marriages should be
recognized in all official circles where Christian marriages are recognized.
Uniformed groups in Nigeria include
the security agencies uniformed voluntary groups, primary and secondary
schools, nurses, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), etc. All these groups
already have approved uniforms dating back to the colonial era. However, some
of these uniforms constitute breaches to Islamic dress code and offend the
sensitivity of Muslims. However, since Muslims are also part and parcel of
these agencies and groups, they are compelled to wear the uniforms like others
regardless of their inner feeling of resentment.
While it is an open secret that
Muslim women, as a rule, use hijab as part of their dress, none of the uniforms
used by the Nigerian security agencies allow this flexibility.
ARISING FROM STATEMENTS OF FACTS
Female policemen, soldiers,
immigrations, customs, etc, who are Muslims are compelled to use uniforms which
assault their spiritual psyche on a daily basis. Female Muslim youth corpers,
for example, who do not even belong to the security apparatus, suffer annually
from this trauma.
IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES
to use uniforms which are displeasing to the wearer is capable of killing
incentive, causing disaffection and engendering inefficiency. School uniforms which offend the Islamic dressing code are
capable of spreading immorality among the youth. Britain is a good example of a
non-Muslim environment where Muslim policewomen and Muslim pupils wear
uniform-fitting hijab along with their uniforms.
Muslims in uniform should be allowed to use hijabs designed to fit their
ALHAJI TIJANI SHEHU ALHAJI ABDUL RAZAQ UTHMAN