Monday, March 28, 2016


29th March 2016,

President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) last week apologized for dissolving the governing councils of some universities. The dissolution which occurred about two months ago was criticized by many on the basis of illegality as the tenure of some of the councils had not expired.    

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) lauds PMB’s decision to eat the humble pie. It is a strong indication that the new administration is determined to tow the path of democracy.

This apology is quite significant as cynics had insisted during the 2015 presidential campaign that PMB planned to return with the same military dictatorship that he was known when he served as military head of state between 1983 and 1985. PMB has proved critics wrong with this apology.

MURIC urges all government officials at Federal, state and local government levels to emulate this democratic feature in PMB’s administration. Impunity and arrogance in matters of public concern ignite tension among citizens and stoke the fires of rebellion whereas humility and transparency repose confidence in government and encourage the people to support government’s policies.

The Glorious Qur’an warns against insolence, “Swell not thy cheek at the people. Nor walk arrogantly on earth; for Allah does not love the arrogant boaster. Be moderate in your pace, lower your voice; for certainly the harshest sound is the braying of the ass” (Qur’an 31:18 – 19)

This advocacy for humility in office can benefit Nigerians from all walks of life: from directors of agencies to school administrators; from directors in ministries to heads of departments; from large scale entrepreneurs to small scale company directors; from the ordinary class teacher to the university lecturer and from the artisan to the husband at home.

We must all learn to be humble. We must know when to say ‘sorry’. Humility in the leadership is an essential ingredient for smooth administration, industrial harmony and higher productivity.     

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

Friday, March 25, 2016


26th March 2016,

Nigerian Christians are currently celebrating Easter with their counterparts throughout the world. This year’s Easter festival began yesterday, Friday 25th March 2016 and will end on Monday 28th March, 2016.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) felicitates with Nigerian Christians on this occasion.

We charge our Christian neighbours to spend the period in sober reflections on the current situation in the country. Nigeria, a nation blessed with abundant human and material resources, the numero uno producer of crude oil in Africa, cannot supply enough for its citizens.

Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa (about 180 million people) with vast arable land, cannot feed its population. Nigeria, the ‘giant’ of Africa and a country that has helped other nations in Africa to quell disturbances, is today ravaged by a 5-year insurgency which has claimed thousands of lives while smaller and weaker countries now rally to save it from going under.

But many Nigerian politicians are committed to a culture of waste and a dogma of ego. Only a few are altruistic. How else can we explain a single politician who has 170 aides; a top military officer who stores $1 million in a septic tank in his home; another who fraudulently collects N554 million monthly while $2.1 billion meant for purchase of arms to fight insurgency is shared among politicians?  

These are issues we must reflect on. We must seek to build this country. We must not destroy it. Religious leaders must preach love. We must be models in tolerance and forgiveness. We must eschew hate speeches and all acts capable of inciting our followers. We must avoid extravagant and flamboyant life in order to teach our followers simplicity and the need to avoid greed and avarice. These are the things we must do to get out of the doldrums.      

Look at where the greed of a ‘tiny cabal’ has led this country. Nigeria, a nation that became independent 56 years ago is still crawling like a 2-year old baby. There is darkness in the land, stomachs are empty and the youths are roaming around the cities.

4,500 pregnant women die in pregnancy yearly in this country. 52,000 Nigerian women die in childbirth annually. 11 million Nigerians are malnourished. 55 million Nigerians lack access to education. Nigerian roads are a collective apology. Nigeria is the 26th poorest and 20th hungriest nation in the world.

Unfortunately, just at the time we found a forthright leader, the economy was hit by an unprecedented downturn and oil, the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy which used to sell at $93.61 per barrel, crashed to less than $28!  

But all hope is not lost. Stolen funds are being recovered. Hitherto sacred cows are being made to vomit their loot. Transparency, probity and accountability are on the front burner once again. The price of oil has started rising and governments at both federal and state levels are tightening their belts. There is cause to believe that Nigeria will rise again.

MURIC therefore calls on Nigerians to be patient with the present administration. The essence of Easter is patience, fortitude and tolerance and these are the expected take-aways from Easter.

Finally, we invite Nigerians to compare President Muhammadu Buhari’s impeccable character, his frugality and his unbeatable pedigree to the greed, recklessness and selfishness of past leaders. Whereas a past leader insisted that stealing is not corruption and that there was nothing wrong if a goat eats yam, Buhari has zero tolerance for stealing. This is the barometer we should use when taking our decision. Let us all imbibe the lessons of Easter, namely, patience, fortitude and tolerance.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

Sunday, March 20, 2016


20th March 2016,

The Christian Elders Forum, an arm of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday at a press conference alleged that the Federal Government (FG) was planning to impose Shari’ah law on every state of the federation. The Forum based its allegation mainly on recent reports that Nigeria had joined the 32-nation Saudi-led Islamic military coalition.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) strongly rejects this allegation.  It is baseless, unfounded and mischievous. The Christian Elders Forum and CAN are merely heating up the polity and crying wolf where there is none.

We remind Nigerians that MURIC had raised objection to Nigeria’s membership of the Islamic military coalition even before it was announced. Although we have not shifted our position in principle, we now have a clearer understanding of the picture after FG explained its raison d’etre. We are not unaware that blind opposition to issues even after new facts have surfaced is a mark of fanaticism

FG had made it clear that there is nothing religious about the coalition and that the motive is purely security concern. As a nation battling terrorism, Nigeria stands to benefit more from being a member of a coalition created for the sole purpose of fighting terrorism than remaining outside it.

We do not have to be soldiers or trained for security considerations to understand the implications of joining the coalition. By being a member, Nigeria does not need to contribute its military personnel to fight anywhere. But the country stands to gain a lot from sharing information with other members of the coalition and enjoying their cooperation in the area of anti-terrorism.

For instance, Nigeria can successfully put pressure on Saudi Arabia to repatriate a Boko Haram suspect who attempts to hibernate in that country if we are part of the coalition whereas we may not be able to do so if vice versa.

How time has changed! There was a time CAN was accusing Muslim leaders that they were not doing enough to fight Boko Haram. Muslim leaders responded that only a properly constituted authority like the FG could fight insurgents. Why is the same CAN spitting fire when FG has taken steps to cut the wings of Boko Haram by taking the battle to an international level? Is CAN being sincere?

What could Muslim leaders have used to fight Boko Haram? Any attempt by them to form an all-Muslim resistance group would have ended in a disaster. The same CAN would have accused them of planning to use the group to attack churches and Christian leaders. The security agencies also would have had to descend on the new Muslim group in the ensuing confusion and the latter would have been branded ‘second insurgent group’. Pandemonium would have reigned supreme and the country would have gone asunder.

MURIC salutes the Nigerian Muslim leadership for remaining level-headed and quietly taking all the vituperations from CAN leadership at the time. CAN accused Muslim leaders of sponsoring Boko Haram. It also threatened reprisals. Yet it was glaring that Boko Haram was attacking both Christian and Muslim targets and, to date, the insurgents have killed more Islamic scholars and ordinary Muslims than Christian clerics and individuals. 
We call on CAN to stop heating the polity. Those who occupy the house of God should not play the role of agent provocateur. The umbrella body should join hands with the FG to create an enabling environment for religious understanding and peaceful coexistence. We urge Nigerian Muslims to remain calm, law-abiding and to ignore CAN’s provocative utterances.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

Friday, March 18, 2016


19th March 2016,

The 2016 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) which ended last week was greeted with a tornado of criticisms. The marks scored by thousands of candidates were too low and many of them disowned the results.       

Of the 1,546,633 candidates who sat for the 2016 UTME, 145,704 had issues of multiple results. A good example is that of a 17-year-old girl in Ejigbo, Lagos State, who scored 156 in the first result but got 196 in another result that was later issued. This is an incontrovertible proof of JAMB’s inconsistency, ineptitude and unreliability.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) therefore declares the 2016 UTME exercise as a colossal fiasco, a monumental scandal and a national embarrassment.

In particular, we denounce the timing of examinations as candidates were forced to start in examination centers from 6.30 am in compliance with JAMB time table. This arbitrary timing is also responsible for the absence of a whopping 23,577 candidates on the day of the examination.

In a country where power supply is epileptic and security of lives and properties cannot be guaranteed, this is strange, shocking, callous, insensitive and irrational. The examination body unnecessarily exposed our young ones and our future leaders to danger. Some candidates allegedly lost their belongings when they were attacked by hoodlums on their way to the examination centers.

While we commend JAMB for the quick release of results, we affirm that this was the examination body’s only achievement this year. The exercise was an abysmal failure in every other area. The fact that the House of Representatives has already condemned the exercise reveals the grave and nationwide concern it has generated.

JAMB’s rescheduling of examination for 59,000 candidates in 15 states, which the board announced yesterday, is an admission of its gross inefficiency. The board said it relocated 59,000 candidates in 15 states because of problems in some of the centres. This excuse does not hold any water. Neither can it extenuate JAMB’s culpability in the fiasco.

We are constrained to reject the exclusion of those who were absent on the day of the examination from the rescheduled seating. We contend that JAMB caused the ‘absence’ of such a large number of candidates due to its arbitrary timing as it made it very difficult for candidates to reach the center at such an unholy hour. Also, some parents and wards were likely to have restrained their children from leaving their homes at that dangerous time.

In addition, it has come to our knowledge that many hijab-wearing female Muslim candidates were either turned back at the examination centers or forced to remove their hijab before being allowed to enter.

We opine that even those allowed into the examination halls after being so harassed had been made to lose their orientation. Thus they were not in the right frame of mind to take an examination. Non-Muslim religious extremists usually do this to female Muslims to give adherents of their own faith an advantage over Muslims in the area of education.

For example, a religiously fanatical policewoman on official duty forcefully removed the hijab from the head of a 16-year old Muslim girl at the JAMB examination center located at the Ogun State Institute of Technology, Igbesa, Ogun State, flung the hijab on the dirty floor and warned her not to dare pick it up! How could the little girl perform well in the examination after such an emotional disturbance?

This barbaric attack on an innocent girl occurred during the examination slated for 6.30 am on Saturday, 12th March, 2016. The poor girl had travelled all the way from her home in Festac, Lagos, the previous day, slept somewhere in Igbesa (more than fifty kilometers from home), only to be intimidated by a bully policewoman who should also be a mother of some kids somewhere. It is didactic that the JAMB result of the poor girl (an hitherto brilliant student) came out woeful as she scored below 200.

JAMB’s poor conduct of this year’s examination has also sparked off demonstrations in Lagos as thousands of candidates who sat for the exercise converged on the Lagos State House of Assembly four days ago (Tuesday 15th March, 2016).

It has never been this bad and since the whole exercise exemplifies an aptitude test for JAMB itself, the national examination body can only be said, in all fairness, to have scored F9.

Going down history lane, we recall the decision of Nigerian universities to start conducting their own independent post-JAMB examinations. This decition was informed by public loss of confidence in the UTME exercise, JAMB’s inadequacies, its flawed examination policies, alleged corrupt practices among both its permanent and ad hoc staff and its arbitrary award of marks. JAMB’s word had become law until the universities decided to cut its wings. The rest is history today.

MURIC hopes that JAMB is amenable to correction. This is March and there is still time for the examination board to make amends before the demonstrations spread and before activists start getting the idea to #OccupyJAMB. Nigerian legislators are also waiting in the wings to put the final nail in JAMB’s coffin.    

Cancelling the last exercise will certainly come with heavy financial implication. The examination body may not be able to afford this. We therefore suggest as follows:

1.  JAMB should consider giving extra 25 points each to all candidates across the board in view of the fact that undermarking is the major flaw in the last exercise.
2.  Future examinations conducted by JAMB should take the safety of candidates into consideration by starting around 9 am at the earliest.
3.  Candidates should be given the option of taking computer-based or written tests using paper and pen.
4.  Ad-hoc staff must be properly briefed and must not stop religious profiling of hijab-wearing female Muslim candidates.
5.  JAMB results should be valid for three years.
6.  The examination body should coopt security experts to its planning committees when preparing for examinations.

In view of the abysmal failure of this year’s UTME, we urge universities within the country to lower their cut-off points and rely more on their internally conducted post-JAMB examinations for admitting students into their various programmes.

In the event of JAMB turning deaf ears to this public outcry, we appeal to the Ministry of Education to wade into the matter, scrap the examination body and allow individual universities to admit students based on internally conducted entrance examinations, interviews, West African Examination Council (WAEC), General Certificate of Education (GCE) and other relevant results.

Finally, we charge the Inspector General of Police to investigate, fish out and punish the erring policewoman who maltreated the hijab-wearing female Muslim candidate at Igbesa. This should not be too difficult as the time and place of occurrence can be used to identify the police team which was on duty at that point in time. The oppressed female candidate has further described the policewoman who attacked her as tall, huge and dark in complexion.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)