Saturday, April 29, 2017


29th April, 2017

Premium Times, an online media house, yesterday alleged lopsidedness in the recent recruitment into the Department of State Services (DSS) which is apparently in favour of the North.    

Responding, the Presidency said the measure was taken to redress the inequity in past recruitment exercises in the DSS which were carried out between 2014 and 2016.        

We of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) are constrained to put the incident in proper perspective because we had complained about lack of equity in recruitments into all the security agencies including the army, the navy, the DSS, and the Nigerian Police (particularly the mobile police unit) since 2013.

It will be recalled that in our press statement of 24th October 2016 captioned ‘Review Recruitments and Promotions in the Nigerian Security Agencies’, MURIC cited the example of the glaring marginalization of Muslim candidates in the 65th Regular intake course of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA).

In that recruitment, more Christians were picked in Muslim majority states in the North. Only five Muslims were picked in Borno State as against eight Christians. Only four Muslims were picked in Gombe as against ten Christians while only three Muslims were picked in Kaduna State as against eleven Christians. Infra dignitatem! Adamawa had four Muslims, nine Christians while Taraba got three Muslims, ten Christians.

There have also been many cases of Christians given slots in Jigawa, Katsina, Zamfara and even Sokoto. This has been the pattern for more than twenty years now. Recruitments into the officer corps have steadily favoured Christians.  What kind of criteria could have justified such imbalance? It became glaring that somebody somewhere was building an all-Christian army for Nigeria in the nearest future.

We have also complained that recruitments into key parastatals and agencies, especially the SSS, NIA, the Police, the Armed Forces and even paramilitary agencies, have been systematically skewed to favour Christians. To add salt to injury, there have been massive expulsion and wholesale retirement of Muslims in those sectors.

A look at the recruitment into the SSS officer corp in 2013 showed that the outcry against the latest recruitment of April 2017 is unjustifiable. It has taken the recent recruitment in isolation without considering earlier figures. For example, Kano had six (6) in the 2013 recruitment. Kebbi and Sokoto had three (3) each. Rivers State had thirty eight (38) while Akwa Ibom had forty (40). The records are there if anybody denies it.  In addition, most of those from Kaduna, Bauchi, Taraba, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Kogi, Gombe , Ogun, Oyo and Oshun States were predominantly Christians. What was the parameter used in arriving at such preposterous figures?

At the Zaria Army depot, where other ranks of the Army are trained, over 11,000 were recruited and trained in the last five years and Christians constitute a large majority. The training exercise is often characterised with maltreatment of Muslims. More than forty Muslim recruits at the Zaria Army Depot were expelled in 2013 with no explanation just a few weeks before the end of their training.

In spite of the majority status of Muslims in the South West, recruitment exercises for candidates from the sub-region always end up producing Christian candidates only. The interests of minority Christians are always put above those of majority Muslims in the South West. This is unacceptable. Unfortunately this ugly phenomenon is not restricted to recruitments into the security agencies alone. It is extended to ministerial and parastatal posts. All the five ministers from the sub-region during the Jonathan regime were Christians and he only conceded one  to Muslims after the latter protested to Aso Rock.     

MURIC is constrained to ask, “Does this not look like a plot to use predominantly Christian security agencies to intimidate, traumatize and systematically wipe out Muslims in Nigeria? Does this explain the constant massacre of Muslims by security agencies in some parts of the country?” The fear of this reality is becoming palpable among Muslims.

It should be noted that the authoritative Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a damming report on the last major religious crisis in Jos, indicted the Mobile Police for singling out Muslims for massacre. It cited more than a dozen incidents in which mainly Muslims were rounded up and gunned down. In one incident alone, 44 Muslims were lined up and shot.

HRW also listed seven other incidents of extra-judicial killings in which soldiers shot 47 Muslims in a cold blooded manner. Although HRW called for a probe of the Mobile Police nobody appears to care. It is didactic that the HRW report concluded that: “The probe of the mobile police should go beyond its role in the Jos crisis to unearth its recruitment policy, numerical strength and the religious affiliations of its officers and men”.

It also added: “Unless the roles played by the Mobile Police and fake soldiers are properly investigated and the finding made public, other groups are likely to adopt similar methods in the nearest future”.

A former Commissioner of Police in Kaduna State, Mohammed Shehu, also observed after the major religious crisis of year 2000, that there would be no end to religious crises in Kaduna State unless the composition of the Police Force, which was 80% Christians in Kaduna State was re-constituted.

It is on record that the Late Sultan Maccido interfaced with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2005 on the marginalization of Muslims in the security agencies. That visit was an expression of the fear of elimination. Sultan Maccido handed the Muslim petition to Obasanjo. This was followed by an advertorial. Almost twelve years later, the lopsidedness in the recruitment exercises have become even more reckless.

The reigning Sultan, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, also led a Muslim delegation to ex-President Jonathan to lodge a similar complaint in 2014. Yet nothing was done.

An important lesson to draw from the ongoing is that Nigerian heads of state must avoid favoritism of any kind, whether based on ethnicity or religion. Heads of state must realize that no disproportionate recruitment can go unnoticed and the next administration led by somebody from another faith or from another tribe will always seek to balance up and redress any injustice.

Any recruitment exercise which fails to recognize the diversity of the Nigerian people must not be allowed to stand if the letter and spirit of Section 14(4) of the Nigerian Constitution is anything to go by.

FG must still review recruitments into the mobile police, the army, the NIA, etc. In addition, we urge the security agencies, particularly the Nigerian Army, to urgently embark on a general review of promotion exercises and retirement cases in the last five years. Both serving and retired officers and men who believe they have been unjustly denied promotion or unduly retired should be encouraged to submit memoranda.

As we round up, we affirm that the Buhari administration has been very fair to Christians and Southerners. We urge the regime to continue on this course. We appeal to Nigerians to accept the recent recruitments in good faith in view of the facts and figures which show that there had been gross lopsidedness in earlier recruitments.  

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


26th April, 2017

President Muhammadu Buhari recently suspended the Secretary to the Federal Government (SGF) David Babachir Lawal and the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) on allegations of sharp practices and violation of due process.      

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) immediately cried foul. The umbrella Christian body, speaking through the president of its Northern youth wing, Daniel David Kadzai, accused Buhari of suspending the duo simply for being Christians and not because of any allegation of graft. The parent body has not denied this statement.

We of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) take exception to CAN’s allegation against Buhari. It is false, baseless and malicious. CAN’s allegation is short in modesty, long in indecency.

Does CAN recall that the grass-cutting scandal broke out since October 2016? Isn’t CAN aware that Nigerians have since been clamouring for the sack of the SGF?  Buhari, who is known for his zero tolerance for corruption, still allowed the SGF to continue in office for good eight months after the scandal broke out in spite of the avalanche of criticisms. He gave the SGF the benefit of the doubt while discreet investigation continued. The presidency even went out of its way to declare the SGF innocent in a letter to Senate. Buhari was only constrained to act after indubitable proof of impropriety was provided.  

It is therefore the height of ingratitude and the climax of impudence for CAN to turn round to accuse Buhari of suspending the SGF because he is a Christian. Why does CAN love blackmail so much? At what point exactly did the SGF become a Christian? Was it just yesterday?

Was he not a Christian when Buhari deemed it fit to appoint him? Was he not a Christian when Buhari defended him before Senate? Was he not a Christian when Buhari retained him in office for eight good months while Nigerians rained all sorts of abuses at the president for not sacking his ‘corrupt’ SGF?

Ditto for the DG of the NIA, Ayo Oke. Whereas it is customary for newly sworn-in presidents to appoint their own men to strategic positions, President Buhari magnanimously retained ex-President Jonathan’s men and many of them are still in office to date. Ayo Oke was one of them and we doubt if anything would have happened to him if the $43 million cash haul in the Ikoyi luxury apartment had not occurred.

Equally nauseating is the statement credited to one Suleiman who claims to be the son of Babachir Lawal. He alleged that his father was removed because he was a Christian. This may be understandingly infantile. We may ask him, nonetheless: did Jonathan appoint Ayo Oke as DG of NIA because he was a Christian or because he merited the post?

We call the attention of patriotic Nigerians to the antics of the leadership of Nigerian Christians: blackmail, arm-twisting, bad faith and ill-will. How can any Nigerian leader function effectively in this kind of atmosphere unless he is a Christian? The rough-tackles begin the moment a Muslim becomes president.    

We warn that this must not be allowed to go on. CAN is using religion to promote mediocrity. CAN is sheltering corrupt Christians in public office. This is a body that should concretise the values of transparency, honesty, probity and accountability. It is shameful, self-defeating and unpatriotic.

The amount of money involved in the grass-cutting scam (N220 million) was for weeding the camps of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in the North East. Is it not disgraceful for any public official to add salt to the injuries suffered by the IDPs? In the case of the DG of NIA, the amount involved is a staggering $43 million. This money alone is enough to electrify the whole South West of Nigeria.

This money belongs to all of us. Not to Muslims alone. Not to Christians alone. It is our commonwealth for crying out loud and somebody is playing pranks with it. But CAN seems to be telling Buhari to “keep off, this is a Christian affair. Touch not my anointed!...” or something that sounds like it.

MURIC says ‘No’ to religious politics. One they are indited, a grass-cutter thief is a grass-cutter thief whether he is a Michael or a Mikail. A dollar hoarder is a dollar hoarder whether he is a Joseph or a Yusuf. Corruption knows no religion. Let us allow the law to take its due course. CAN must stop protecting corrupt Christian public officials. Or is CAN telling us that a percentage of money stolen by Christians from government is always reserved for the church? So why the hullabaloo?  

For the avoidance of doubt, MURIC’s concern is the welfare of the jamaheer (the masses). Why should we continue to tolerate a situation where only 1% of the population corners 85% of our commonwealth to themselves leaving only 15%  of the country’s resources to the remaining 99%  of the population who are over-worked, under-paid and over-taxed workers, frail-looking and weather-beaten indigent students and the army of unemployed, hungry and homeless Nigerians?

As we round up, we affirm, for the umpteenth time, that our intellectual jihad is not for President Muhammadu Buhari. It is for socio-economic justice. It is for a Nigerian El Dorado, for the establishment of an egalitarian society where no Nigerian will be homeless, illiterate, hungry and sick.

Our jihad (i.e. struggle) is against corruption, injustice and bad governance and we will leave no stone unturned until every Nigerian, Christian, Muslim or animist, is free to work and worship in any part of the country he chooses to reside. It is therefore not about Buhari. It is about good governance and life more abundant. Any government that pursues transparency will get our support while tyrants and oppressors will always feel our sting.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

Sunday, April 23, 2017


23rd April, 2017

In spite of the truce reached at a parley between Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and Muslim leaders from the South West three weeks ago, members of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) in Ekiti State have sighted the governor’s bulldozers strategically stationed near the mosques under threat in Ado Ekiti yesterday, Saturday 22nd April, 2017.     

This move is not only irrational but also highly provocative. Governor Fayose is deliberately provoking Muslims in Ekiti State and, by inference, in Yorubaland and the country as a whole for his own personal agenda. For reasons best known to him, Fayose wants to set Nigeria on fire. He knows that his action is capable of causing a breach of the peace yet he appears determined to go ahead. We warn that nobody should blame Muslims for any breakdown of law and order if those mosques are demolished.

We are bewildered that the chief security officer of a state can be hell-bent on stoking religious riot in a country heavily beleaguered with religious conflicts. Fayose’s belligerence and open display of hostility towards his Muslim citizens belies the perceived atmosphere of peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims in South Western Nigeria.

Many people, including foreigners in the country, are under the impression that religious intolerance exists only in the northern part of the country. Nay, the truth of the matter is that Muslims in the region have been patiently bearing a long-drawn repression and denial of their Allah-given fundamental human rights.

Fayose’s latest exhibition of fascism and religious intolerance has just proved that the claim of peaceful coexistence among Yoruba Christians and Muslims is a myth, a mirage and a total illusion. There has been peace because the Muslims of the region have demonstrated extreme forbearance. The Muslims have continued to remain peaceful even in the face of gross provocations.  

We recall that the American Congress invited the former president of CAN, Ayo Oritsejafor, to address its members on the purported atrocities committed by Nigerian Muslims. He told the American lawmakers bundles of lies but, unfortunately, the US Congressmen are yet to grant Nigerian Muslims the right of response in the name of fair hearing.

The reality on ground is that while a handful of Christians may be amenable to the idea of religious tolerance, many others like Fayose have a phobia for Muslims and an allergy for seeing any Islamic monument in their neighbourhood. Fayose is determined to uproot every single Islamic landmark on Ekiti soil before his tenure expires in 2018.  

MURIC calls the attention of leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to Fayose’s aggression against Muslims. We appeal to Western diplomats in the country to spare a little time to study the religious landscape in Yorubaland. We charge leaders of the National Assembly, lawmakers from Ekiti State and all men of goodwill to make Fayose see reason. We invite notable traditional rulers in Yorubaland, particularly the much revered Ooni of Ife and the Alaafin of Oyo to intervene in the matter before it gets out of hand.

Finally, we warn that the fragile peace and one-sided religious ‘tolerance’ being enjoyed in the South West may come under severe threat if Fayose carries out his threat to destroy those mosques.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)