Thursday, September 21, 2017

OPPOSITION TO SUKUK: CAN IS PLAYING ‘DOG IN THE MANGER’




21st September, 2017
PRESS RELEASE:
OPPOSITION TO SUKUK: CAN IS PLAYING ‘DOG IN THE MANGER’


The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) issued a press statement yesterday to protest against the Federal Government’s first ever sukuk (noninterest lease assets facilities) which was announced last week. The statement which was dated 19th September, 2017 was signed by CAN’s General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Musa Asake.


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) considers CAN’s position demeaning. It is not only infantile, petty and overbearing but also spiteful and egocentric.


Our position is based on the fact that CAN has all it needs in Nigeria today because the whole system is Christo-Western: education, the judicial system, the economy, everything. Muslims who were deprived of all their Islamic landmarks and ways of life by the colonialists are constrained to start the struggle all over again by demanding Shari’ah, use of hijab in schools, Islamic banks, sukuk, etc. It must be made clear ab initio that Nigerian Muslims had all these before the advent of the British colonialists who changed everything in favour of Christianity.


There is nothing the Muslims are demanding now that the Christians don’t have already on a platter of gold. It must also be stated that the Christians do not need the things that the Muslims are asking for. Why should somebody keep blocking his brother from getting his own share when he already has his own?


The fable of the dog in the manger is quite didactic in this regard. A British dog in the 13th century was fed with meat until its belly was full. Then the owner took hay (dry grass which only the horse needed and it is useless to the dog) and gave it to the horse. The dog had eaten and it was now the horse’s turn. Surprisingly, the dog started barking. It jumped on the hay and kept the horse at bay.


‘Dog in the manger’ has since become an English idiom. We must now ask CAN why it is playing dog in the manger. Shari‘ah is not for them but CAN screamed until the roofs nearly came down. OIC does not hurt any Christian but CAN shouted to high heavens. Hijab is for female Muslims alone but violent envy pushed CAN to shout itself hoarse. Islamic bank is for Muslims alone but CAN labeled it Islamisation of Nigeria. Can CAN give us a list of those who have been Islamised since Islamic banking started in the country? CAN leadership has become a professional false alarmist, a dog in the manger.


To reject the existence of sukuk pari passu with Islamic banking is like demanding that the agricultural sector should operate without bringing harvests to the markets or that hospitals should exist without pharmacies and laboratories. Having fought rigorously and bitterly against the establishment of the Islamic bank in Nigeria without success, our Christian neighbours seek to strangulate Islamic banks in the country.


We are constrained to ask, “How Christian is the Christian Association of Nigeria?” Every good Christian wants to be like Jesus and he turns this idea of emulating Jesus to a song. We have no doubt that CAN leaders also sing the song. But how sincere are they about emulating Jesus? Jesus says, “Love your neighbour according to thy self” (Mark 12:31) but CAN leaders do the exact opposite.


There are lots of good Christians in Nigeria and we interact very well but why must the petty ones always lead them? They are a belligerent lot, warlike and aggressive. Have they ever seen Muslims opposing a benefit going to Christians? We did not protest when you started going to Jerusalem even though we know that it is not mandatory for Christians. You enjoy Western banking system, Western education, common law, etc without any protest from us. Why is it that CAN always cries foul each time we seek parity?


CAN’s claim that sukuk is unconstitutional is false, baseless and misleading. How can laws made by the Federal Government be ultra vires? CAN is misleading Nigerian Christians. CAN should know what to do if it is unconstitutional. We challenge CAN to go to court today. It should not wait till tomorrow.


This was how CAN deceived Nigerians in 1999 when it said Shariah was unconstitutional and MURIC challenged it to go to court. They went to court of course but they beat a quick retreat. They withdrew the case when they found out the truth. But why heat up the polity all the time when you have the means of finding out the true status of sukuk? CAN likes making noise and we are enjoying our garrulous neighbour.


CAN calls sukuk a sectional religious financial policy but it forgets that the stock exchange has hitherto been monopolized by Christian-oriented bonds for decades and the Muslims did not complain for once. CAN loves to permanently marginalize Nigerian Muslims yet it is CAN that shouts ‘Islamisation’.


If it is true that sukuk implies Islamisation, then the stock exchange is imperialistic Christianisation. But almost the whole of Europe has embraced the sukuk industry. This includes France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Luxemburg and Britain. Paris EUROPLACE established sukuk as far back as 2007 and France has since established the Islamic Finance Commission. Germany issued its first sukuk in 2004. That was 13 years ago. Ireland’s sukuk assets amounted to 180 trillion euros by 2010. Luxemburg started using sukuk in 2002. Britain has been using Islamic banking since the 1990s and the Sanctuary Building Sukuk was launched in 2005. The United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency recognized the ijarah and mubarahah more than 30 years ago! But has America been Islamised? According to Bloomberg LP, KFH Research, the global sukuk issuance as at 31st December 2013 was $135 billion but grew rapidly to $2.004 trillion by 2016.

  
These are verifiable facts if CAN would eschew its armchair leadership style. Even Google alone is enough but CAN leadership will not search. They are just interested in rabble-rousing and cantankerous razz-mataz.   CAN should seek education. The Bible says “My people perish for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). CAN should stop misleading Nigerians and inciting Christians against their Muslim neighbours.


MURIC calls on Nigerian Christians to either ignore CAN or find out the truth by themselves each time CAN cries wolf. Afterall the Bible asks Christians to “Investigate everything but hold onto that which is the truth” (I Thessalonians 5:21). Don’t allow anybody to push you into violent behavior. Don’t allow anyone to make you hate your Muslim neighbour.


Let us eschew primordial sentiments. Sukuk is purely business. We advise Christians to take their destiny in their own hands instead of allowing warlike leaders to lead them into unnecessary confrontation with Muslims every time. We invite CAN leaders to eschew bitterness. We should be partners in lending the voice of reason to the national debate instead of constituting clerical nuisance to the Nigerian nation.


Before we round up, we advise CAN leadership to desist from giving religion a bad name. The word ‘religion’ is from the Latin word ‘religio’ meaning ‘to link’, ‘to tie’ or ‘to bind’. Therefore religion is about linking people together in love and sharing. It is not about dividing them. Religion is about love, forgiveness, tolerance, giving and taking. Let us be good examples for the young generation. Our constant bickering has led to too many religious crises. It has pushed our followers to the precipice of war and instigated them against one another. Why must we live together like two envious wives of the same husband when we should see ourselves as two sons of the same father? This is the etymological essence of religion.


Professor Ishaq Akintola,
President,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)





Tuesday, September 19, 2017

EXTEND DEADLINE FOR FG’S SUKUK



19th September, 2017
PRESS RELEASE:
EXTEND DEADLINE FOR FG’S SUKUK


The Federal Government (FG) issued its first sukuk (noninterest lease assets facilities) last week (on Thursday 14th September, 2017). Surprisingly, it will be available for only six days as it expires tomorrow, Wednesday 20th September.   


Although we commend FG for this historical development, we are disturbed by the short notice of the savings window. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) goofed by giving six days only as deadline when interest based bonds and shares are available for months before the closing date.


Six days notice is rather too short for a new facility. Afterall, Muslim Finance experts have for several decades been calling for noninterest financial instruments like the sukuk and FG needs to give this first chance a longer time until people get used to it.


Although it was advertised in one or two newspapers, FG needs to do better than that. A massive media publicity involving all media houses (print and electronic) is necessary for this first outing. CBN also needs to involve all banks. There is no sign at all that the banks are aware or that they are cooperating. With its battalion of experts, CBN should have known better. Or is the sukuk deliberately designed to fail? Is there an anti-Muslim sentiment behind this?


CBN should not only be made to keep the investment window open for at least 6 weeks, all agency banks should be directed to publicise the product throughout all their branches. In addition, CBN and the Federal Ministry of Information should be directed to give maximum possible publicity to the new facility. Nigeria needs this financial instrument as a new initiative to complement its efforts at emerging from the present economic quagmire.   


The authoritative economic magazine, The Economist, once described Islamic finance as the tipping point. The London Stock Exchange listed its first ever sukuk ten years ago (April 2007). It has been a continuous exercise since then. Nobody should tell us that he is better in economic matters than the British and their shrewd banks. The Middle East and Asia are the two fastest-growing areas of the world in economic development and sukuk has been held largely responsible for this phenomenon.  


The CIMB Group Holdings has affirmed that Islamic finance is the fastest growing section of the world’s financial system. Presently, Islamic banking is practiced in 300 different financial institutions in more than 52 countries including the United States and Britain. The involvement of Nigerian banks will give them the opportunity to bite their own mouthfuls from more than $822 billion in assets being managed by Islamic banks worldwide.


We expect CBN to know all these facts. It knows the advantages of sukuk and its preference in modern financial institutions. Or does it, really?


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) urges Nigerian banks to avail themselves of this window. Sukuk is growing speedily in Western banks. Conventional banks are now scrambling to set up Shari'a-compliant operations in the Europe and America; a flurry of all-Islamic start-ups, from full-service investment banks to specialist advisory firms and their products have moved beyond lending, insurance and investment funds to include sukuk.


MURIC charges FG to extend the sukuk’s deadline to the end of December 31st, 2017. We suggest that a robust publicity should be embarked upon between now and the proposed December 31st ultimatum. No serious nation plays with its economic survival and diversification of investments is one of the best means for achieving this.  


Professor Ishaq Akintola,
President,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)



Sunday, September 17, 2017

IPOB ATTACK ON HAUSA & YORUBA MOSQUE: ARMY SHOULD PROTECT MUSLIMS IN THE SOUTH EAST



17th September, 2017
WORLD PRESS RELEASE:
IPOB ATTACK ON HAUSA & YORUBA MOSQUE: ARMY SHOULD PROTECT MUSLIMS IN THE SOUTH EAST

Terrorists of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) shot five innocent Hausa men dead at an Hausa settlement near the popular Abraka Market in Asaba, Delta State, on Friday, 15th September, 2017. Scores of others were injured. In another attack, an irate IPOB mob attacked the Yoruba Mosque in Umuahia, Abia State. The marauding hoodlums destroyed the mosque, tore copies of the Glorious Qur’an and defecated inside the mosque. Some Yoruba Muslims caught up in the mayhem were manhandled and robbed of their laptops and handsets.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) strongly condemns these attacks. It is wicked, cowardly, unjustifiable and psychopathically sadistic.

It is well known that most Northerners who live in the South East and South West are poor citizens who engage in menial works like shoe-mending, shoe-shining, gate-keepers, etc. What crime has this poor and innocent class committed to warrant such a deadly attack? They are neither politicians nor civil servants.

MURIC asserts that these gruesome attacks are a direct product of hate speeches delivered by Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the proscribed terrorist group, IPOB. Kanu has allegedly berated Yoruba ‘bastards’ and their leaders and pronounced the death sentence on every Nigerian living in the ‘Nigerian zoo’. It is not surprising, therefore, that IPOB terrorists have started killing innocent Hausa people and attacking Yoruba mosques. Objective and pragmatic leaders of thought in the South East should prevail on Kanu and IPOB members to stop their terrorist activities henceforth.


We are irked by the silence of Yoruba leaders on IPOB’s attack on the Yoruba mosque. Are Yoruba Muslims no longer part of the Yoruba nation? Are they not the majority group in the South West? Are the elitist Yoruba leaders still bent on marginalizing the majority Yorubas in their midst just because the Muslims are not vocal?

MURIC demands proper prosecution of the two IPOB members arrested in connection with the terrorist act. We implore the Delta Police Command to fish out their accomplices. The law must take its due course.

We task IPOB apologists, particularly constitutional lawyers who are trying hard to fault the Nigerian Army’s declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organization, to tell the world the correct name for a group which sprays innocent and unarmed citizens with bullets without stealing anything from them. What do you call a group that razes down police stations and kills the police at will? Any group which engages in threats and violence to call attention to its cause is a terrorist group. No more, no less.

Today was born from the wombs of yesterday. It is on record that IPOB threatened President Buhari when he wanted to visit Enugu. They said that he should not set his feet on Igboland. That threat has become a reference point by legally minded people. To avoid a clash and the likely loss of lives, the president sent his vice, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. No country in the world takes threat to the life of its president lightly.

According to Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, anyone who parades a private army has become an enemy combatant. No military worth its salt will stomach that. We also remind apologists that human rights lose its numero uno status once national security is under threat (ref Dokubo-Asari V. Federal Republic of Nigeria 2007 ALL FWLR PT 375 588). We therefore plead with separatist ideologues to desist from misleading the people.

While MURIC is not averse to the idea of any group demanding its rights, we will not take kindly to attacks on Muslims and our places of worship. We do not issue threats. Neither do we engage in violence. Our motto is ‘Dialogue, Not Violence’ and we will stick to our pacifist vow to the end. But we will not hesitate to seek redress for any act of aggression committed against Muslims. All legitimate options are on the table. We will pursue those who oppress and persecute Muslims to the highest court in the world.

We commend the Nigerian Army not only for responding swiftly to the threat against the territorial integrity of the Nigerian nation but also for conducting itself professionally. No army in the world will tolerate hoodlums blocking its movement on a public road and pelting it with stones like IPOB members did. Those calling for the withdrawal of the army from Abia State are not being realistic. It is another ploy for IPOB to dig in, kill all Hausas and Yorubas and make it impossible for the army to return except at the commencement of full-blown war. We don’t want any war. All we want is peace. The army did a good job by intervening at the right time.

It is clear that the police cannot handle IPOB. Even the IPOB leader claimed that they already have weapons. We all saw video clips showing how members of IPOB harassed and taunted policemen. What did the apologists do at that time? Did they call IPOB to order? Any withdrawal by the military at this point in time will endanger the lives of innocent non-indigenes.

We appeal to the international community to avail itself with video clips containing hate speeches of the leader of IPOB before rushing to judgement. Hate speeches by Nnamdi Kanu has started taking effect. IPOB has started killing Muslims. Our mosques are being attacked and desecrated. Kanu himself is on the run. But he can only run, he cannot hide.

We appeal to Muslims in and outside the South East sub-region not to take the law into their hands. Two wrongs do not make a right. We advise disgruntled groups to channel their grievances through their state governors. The Federal Government should, as a matter of urgency, set up a commission to dialogue with such groups. However, we reject the idea of a meeting between President Buhari and the IPOB leader as this will bestow a false illusion of officialdom and encourage lawlessness among other groups. Idolisation of criminality in itself is a crime.

As a final shot, we affirm that every Nigerian has the right to live and work anywhere in the country. We therefore appeal to the military to remain palpably visible in the South East until all threats to peace and orderliness have been brought under control. This is necessary in order to protect the lives and properties of minority groups.


Professor Ishaq Akintola,
President,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)