This is the official blog of the Nigeria-based Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a human rights organization which promotes, protects and projects the rights of Muslims. This group condemns terrorism and all acts of violence. Its motto is 'Dialogue, Not Violence'
CALL FOR A TRULY FREE MILITARY FOR POLITICAL STABILITY
Nigeria will be celebrating her 53rd independence anniversary on Tuesday, 1st October, 2013. The Federal Government has promised a low-key celebration for the event. The day has also been declared as a holiday.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) congratulates the Federal Government, all state governments and all Nigeriansat home and in diaspora on this occasion. To compliment the position of the Federal Government on the need for a low-key celebration, we call for deep and sober reflection on the state of our dear nation, Nigeria.
MURIC is seriously perturbed by the recklessness of Nigerian politicians who appear to have learnt nothing from the mistakes of their predecessors. Of grave concern is the topsy-turvy in the ruling party which is capable of igniting nationwide chaos unless it is quickly arrested. Equally alarming is the crises in Rivers, Taraba and Kaduna States.
These trends are similar to the higgledy-piggledy which occurred in the old Western Region in the early sixties and which eventually culminated in Nigeria's first military intervention on January 15, 1966. Things have not been the same since then. Of the 53 years of Nigeria's post-independence experience, the military has ruled for 40 years.
Unfortunately it was 40 years of unabridged waste, absolute dictatorship and unfettered tyranny. Yet Nigeria of today is not free from military adventurism in politics. Keen observers and astute analysts have seen the fingers of Nigeria's military in every pie in the political arena. There have also been occasions when certain individuals have openly called on the army to take control of the reins of power once again.
In this regard, MURIC calls on the Federal Government to learn from the latest events in Egypt. The ignoble role played by the Egyptian military in the ousting of Morsi was orchestrated by Egypt's military ties to Western powers. Facts have emerged that General Sissi and indeed all the top Egyptian military officers had training sessions in Western countries and that they remained in contact with those powers. This tends to suggest that army officers who train in Western countries are constantly teleguided and monitored. Western powers who train them keep dossiers on them and can influence them to take unpatriotic actions against their own countries. The same is true about Nigeria and its army.
This constitutes a great threat to the political stability of our country as well as a smear on its genuine independence. To prevent this possibility and for Nigeria to enjoy true independence, MURIC suggests an urgent review of all foreign training and study programmes of the Nigerian army. Instead of going to Western countries, our officers training or studying abroad should henceforth be sent to other countries like China and India. We call the attention of the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Defense to the urgency of this suggestion.A stitch in time saves nine.
A 2-day National Political Summit on the Future of Nigeria was held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State from 3rd to 4th September, 2013. It was designed as a precursor to a National Conference. The presidency, the National Assembly (NASS) and the media have also shown signs of positive inclination towards the conveyance of a National Conference.
It is the considered opinion of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) that a national conference is even belated in view of the various challenges facing the country. The worst communities are those in which the members shun dialogue among themselves. Everyone takes to fisticuffs at the slightest provocation. Such communities find it hard to coexist peacefully. This is the parable of our country, Nigeria. The fact that the idea of a National Conference has gained momentum in the corridors of power is a positive signal that Nigeria is now on the right track of peace and stability.
Yet there is a snag.The focus right now appears to be ethnic nationalities alone. To build a just, equitable and egalitarian society, the proposed National Conference must not bar any major stakeholder from participating and presenting its grievances and positions. In particular, Nigerian Christians, Muslims and traditionalists must be adequately represented. In view of the fact that most conflicts in the country have been traced to religious misunderstanding, any National Conference or Sovereign National Conference which sidelines these religious groups is embarking on an exercise in futility.
MURIC asserts that Nigeria as it stands today is a neocolonialist project serving the purpose of the colonial master and the imperialists alone. The parochial method employed by the colonialists who virtually eliminated all vestiges of Islam which they met on ground is the crux of the matter and this must be tabled on the floor of the planned national conference. This they did by using sheer force, divide et impera and so many other subterfuges until they almost totally destroyed Islamic institutions and landmarks.
As a result of this, Muslims in Nigeria of today feel alienated, ostracized and marginalized. Worst still, Muslims are stigmatized as fundamentalists, fanatics, terrorists, etc each time they seek integration into the Nigerian project. Of course this is a major grouse of Nigerian Muslims and it has informed most of the religious conflicts in the country.
To Nigerian Muslims therefore, our so called independence in 1960 was cosmetic, our republican status in 1963 was window-dressing and our democracy today is a monumental fraud.
MURIC asserts clearly, unambiguously and unequivocally that the British bequeathed to Nigeria a legacy which was heavily tainted with Christian coloration in all aspects of life: education, health, law and social perception. It was a deliberate attempt to keep us divided. But haven't we lived together long enough to know how to detonate the time bomb? Must we live with the nightmare of a colonial booby trap all our life?
It is therefore very clear that Nigeria needs a rigorous reintegration programme.Something is just not right. This 1914 amalgamation of a thing needs to be Nigerianised.Muslims are not integrated into the Nigerian polity. There is an urgent need to fully integrate the Muslims and give them the sense of belonging.
Muslims are still complaining today as they did more than a century ago. Yet nobody is listening. Muslims are prepared to live in peace with their Christian neighbours and of course with people of all other faiths and cultures. The National Conference is imperative but religious groups must be an integral part of it.
Finally, we suggest that representatives of the NASS should also be involved as participants in order to solve the riddle of holding a National Conference while we have a sitting NASS. Also, the timing must be properly set. The proposed National Conference must take off after the 2015 general elections, not before.
The rationale for this lies in the length of time needed for preparing a National Conference and the need to avoid a clash of interests while holding the conference and the election pari passu. A national conference is not a picnic. The Federal Government needs full concentration to plan and execute it successfully. But with the myriad of problems currently facing the ruling party, the Federal Government cannot effectively combine preparations for a general election with a National Conference. A word is enough for the wise.
The Nigerian security agencies reported an exchange of fire between them and suspected men of the Boko Haram group on Kyari Close, Zone 'E', Apo Legislative Quarters, near Gudu Cemetery, Abuja yesterday. About eight of the suspects were reportedly killed and several others wounded when, according to security agencies, Boko Haram insurgents opened fire on security men as they searched for an arms cache in an uncompleted building.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is apprehensive over this particular report because it has all the ingredients of an extra-judicial killing. The Apo seven saga is still fresh in the memory of Nigerians. We however declare ab initio that we condemn terrorism and all other acts of violence whether against individuals or against the state. Nigerians must adopt non-violent means to express dissent.
Our doubt is strengthened by interviews conducted by the media with residents and workers in the area who spoke to newsmen. They affirmed that the incident was another case of merciless massacre of civilians. Some of the witnesses testified that the uncompleted building houses scores of Keke NAPAP (tricycle) operators and some petty traders, who usually retire to the place after their day's activities after payment of a token fee of N200 to the mai-guard (local security guards) in the building.
MURIC affirms that Boko Haram insurgents are a misled and misinformed group. Nevertheless, innocent people must not be slaughtered under the guise of hunting Boko Haram.We are particularly bothered by rising cases of religious and ethnic profiling against people who wear beards and Northerners residing in the South.
Hausa communities in Lagos, Ogun and other parts of the South West have been raided in the recent past by security agents searching for Boko Haram insurgents. Such raids have resulted in the arrest of hundreds of innocent Northerners. The socio-economic lives of communities raided have been dismantled while families have been scattered like wild oats.
MURIC reminds the security agencies that such arrests are arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional. Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees freedom of movement and the liberty of every Nigerian citizen to reside and work anywhere in the country.
We must also remind the Nigerian security operatives that there is no emergency rule in Abuja or anywhere in the South. While we appreciate the intricacies, dangers and difficulties of intelligence gathering and apprehension of suspects, everything must be done to ensure that innocent people do not fall victims of arbitrary arrests or extra-judicial killing. It is all these added together that is called professionalism.
MURIC calls the attention of the Federal Government to rising fears of religious stigmatization among Muslims.Some are already taking undue advantage of the Boko Haram phenomenon to use the security agents to take their pound of flesh from Muslims and Northerners in general. Some do it as a way of revenge for losing their loved ones to past crises in the North. Others do it out of sheer hatred for Muslims. Hate-motivated reports and allegations envelope the air in regions outside the emergency zone, particularly in the South.
Our security agents therefore need to carefully study reports before swooping on suspected areas. Henceforth, MURIC will hold the Federal Government responsible for any extra-judicial killing or any arbitrary arrest of Nigerian Muslims. We will use every available constitutional means to ensure that justice is done. We are prepared to start challenging these illegal actions in Nigerian courts of law. The Federal Government must rein in its overzealous and trigger-happy security agents.
The Nigerian Army must also call its men to order. The role of the army is to protect the territorial integrity of the country. The victims of yesterday's massacre were poor Nigerians who have taken up hard and poorly paid jobs instead of taking to crime. Now they have been slaughtered by the agents of the same Federal Government that has failed to provide them with jobs and secure homes. Our security agents should know that it is the acute poverty in the land which has forced thousands to sleep under the bridge and in uncompleted buildings. Many of those who take refuge in such places are neither crazy people nor criminals. It is a mark of the failure of government.
It is very significant that this tragic incident occurred 24 hours to the International Day of Peace thereby robbing the day of much of its lustre.MURIC affirms that Justice is the Soul of Peace. Those who fail to give justice will always lose the battle for peace. We call on the international community to pay attention to the plight of Nigerian Muslims who have today become endangered species, stigmatized, harassed and oppressed.
There is a strong suspicion that the constant killing, harassment and intimidation of Muslims by security agents are all part of a pre-planned agendum. There are allegations of systematic reduction of the numerical strength of Muslims in the army via untimely retirements and other means while there is unprecedented surge in the population of Christians in the same institution.
We demand an explanation from the Nigerian Army authorities regarding the lopsidedness in the recruitment of officers and rank and file of this strategic institution in recent recruitment exercises. There are fears that it is a grand design to continue this ethnic and religious cleansing against Northerners and Muslims at random. MURIC alerts Muslims in the South that the debilitation of the North is at the detriment of Muslims all over the country.
We challenge the Federal Government to explain its silence over the gross imbalance in recruitments into the security agencies. Should a Christian president pursue an agenda of religious cleansing in the army? Or should he continue to look the other way in view of such glaring lopsidedness. Aso Rock must answer this question. We demand immediate investigation and a subsequent redress. To be comprehensive, such investigation must also be extended to the police and State Security Services. Those who seek genuine peace must not discriminate. In this regard, we charge the Security Committee of the National Assembly to make its own investigation of these allegations.
Some take undue advantage of the Boko Haram phenomenon to take their pound of flesh over ordinary misunderstandings they may have with Northern Muslims or as a way of revenge for losing their loved ones to past crises in the North. There is therefore need for critical assessment, objectivity and professionalism on the part of the security agents. The army in particular must insulate its institution against any possible misuse by overzealous officers. This is why the country must ensure balance in recruitments.
Finally, we appeal to human rights organizations within and outside Nigerialike the Nigerian Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Amnesty International, African Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Commission to, as a matter of urgency, conduct their impartial and independent investigations into the allegations above with a view to stopping extra-judicial killings and religious genocide in Nigeria.
20th September, 2013 WAS THAT INTERVIEW ON ALJAZEERAH STAGE-MANAGED?
Salaam All, I now deem it fit to break my silence after resting for two weeks. Perhaps I should not even talk about resting because I have been engaged in so many activities in the past two weeks that I hardly had time to touch my food. I pity Queen (my wife, Aminah, Queen is my pet name for her and she calls me King). She puts so much into the kitchen ministry and the scintillating aroma from her handiwork keeps me salivating. But do I stop working? No, I am too busy with Queen's rival: my books! I was preparing for a weeklong trip to Abuja (for a meeting) and Uyo in Akwa Ibom State to attend the National Political Summit on the Future of Nigeria when my phone rang. The voice was both feminine and foreign. She wanted me to grant Al-Jazeerah an interview on the issue of early marriage on Tuesday 3rd September, 2013. I told her I would be out of town, in Uyo. She sounded desperate. I told her my skype account had been discontinued for technical reasons. She asked where I would lodge in Uyo and when I replied with a note of confidence, "Le Meridien" (as if an oppressed teacher has the money to lodge in a five star hotel, thanks to the summit organizers who paid for everything) she said she would arrange with the hotel to allow me to use its facilities. Somehow the arrangement was made by her even before I arrived in Uyo on Tuesday morning. The interview which I was told would take place at 8 pm did not start until about 8.40 pm. Four of us featured. Former Governor, now Senator, Ahmad Sani, an Havard-based Nigerian Muslim, a female activist from Nigeria and yours sincerely. I break my silence today because of the obvious bias against my person and Islam during that interview. The organizers, whoever they were, knew what everyone on the programme was going to say. They also had their own agendum regarding who should be allowed to express himself or herself fully and who should be blocked every inch of the way. I say this because my Al-Jazeerah contact had patiently asked me lots of questions before the D-day and she had listened to my explanations without interrupting me once. Those questions were asked not once, not twice either. I think she gave me 'interviews before the interview' three or four times by telephone between Thursday 29th August and Monday 1st September. I was at home with the topic as I had written some articles on it. My AlJazeerah contact even told me some of the points she had picked from my blog at drishaqakintola.blogspot.com. So she was equally familiar with my arsenal. I guess that was exactly what they did with the others on the interview. They had conducted pre-interviews for them and so they knew their stand. But what happened at the interview proper was another thing entirely. The Nigerian Muslim who is based in the US had a field day. So did the female activist from Nigeria. I saw the game. The brother from Havard naturally ensured that the interest of Havard was more than adequately protected and I don't blame him. He still has a number of years to stay over there so he gave us the Havard version of Shari'ah which was the licence that bought him the interview's ticket. I was virtually shut out. Those two spent very long times answering 'questions' put to them. I was allowed to speak after incessant protests and threats that I would walk out if things did not change. They made sure that someone was stationed over there in their studio breathing down my neck, always whispering, "It will soon be your turn. Be patient. Don't worry." A chance I never really had. It was pathetic. I urge my readers to watch the interview again on You Tube and judge.
The first time I was allowed to talk, I was asked what I consider a most unsuitable question. "Professor Akintola, what is VVF?" I told them VVF was not my line of argument. It is the main point being raised by the opposition. I have other points to support the course of Islam instead of wasting precious time defining VVF. I invite my readers to judge. I was invited as an Islamic scholar to explain the Muslims' side of the story. The feminine activist and her clique were the ones who had been using VVF as an argument against early marriage. Who should be asked that question? But it was thrown at me to cause a digression, to show the world that I was given the chance to speak. Well, speak indeed! I warded it off because I saw through the prank. The anchor lady immediately switched from me to another anointed speaker. It went on and on and on like that. I was not allowed to air my views. This calls professionalism and unbiased reportage to question. I am also tempted to ask, "Is somebody using AlJazeerah to wage war on Islam?" How can I be rendered dumb on an issue which I had written so profusely on? How can I fail to speak out on AlJazeerah after decades of effectively featuring in similar television interviews on various television channels? Was it a setup? Was it sheer hocus pocus? Was there someone somewhere or a group of people eager to stage-manage an interview on child marriage on an international cable television? In short, was that interview stage-managed? I leave my readers to judge. Perhaps I should warn fellow Islamic scholars before I stop punching this keyboard. Islamic scholars must be on the lookout. There is an astounding sophistry in the methods being adopted by the West and its cronies to hoodwink the general public and present Islam in bad light.
"Wa makaruu wa makara Allahu, Wa Allahu khayrul-maakiriin, i.e. They conspired while Allah planned. And Allah indeed is the Best Planner" (Qur'an 3:54)
EMERGENCE OF NIGERIAN AS WINNER OF MUSLIMMAH BEAUTY PAGEANT: MURIC CONGRATULATES NIGERIANS, AFRICA.
A 21 year-old Nigerian Muslim lady, Aishah Ajibola, beat nineteen other finalists to emerge winner of the Muslimmah World beauty pageant in Bali, Indonesia, about seven hours ago today. Added to her kitty was 25 million rupiah ($2,200) as well as trips to Makkah and India in the finals held at the Indonesian resort island of Bali.
We congratulate Sister Aishah Ajibola of the University of Lagos for emerging the winner of the world Muslimah contest. We align with the contest in view of the fact that the criteria were not indecent exposure and provocative postures. The contestants were tested in the areas of recitation of the Glorious Qur'an, Islamic historiography, Islamic jurisprudence and Islamic current affairs.
We equally congratulate the organizers of the contest as they used the global event to create great awareness for the rest of the world to show that Muslims have their own values and norms concerning beauty and intelligence.
The event has also proved beyond reasonable doubt that Islam does not repress its women. Neither does it teach pushing them to the background. The demonstration of high level of exposure to education in various fields by the contestants also point to the fact that Muslim women pursue education and that Islam is not averse to educating the womenfolk.
The contest also underscores the fact that opposition to any provocative beauty pageant anywhere in the world can be expressed in a non-violent manner. It will be recalled that violence had accompanied Muslim opposition to the hosting of beauty contests in Nigeria both at national and local levels.
MURIC once again affirms its opposition to beauty contests where the female contestants are scantily, indecently and provocatively dressed as promoting pornography, indecency, crime and immoral behavior.
The outcome of the event adds another feather not only to Nigeria's cap but that of the African continent as a whole. MURIC charges the Nigerian authorities to ensure the enforcement of Allah-given and fundamental rights of the Nigerian Muslim woman. We remind all employers of labour, nurses, bankers, school authorities and all those who discriminate against hijab-wearing women in the country that such practices constitute infringements on the fundamental human rights of Muslim women. We therefore demand that such religious profiling should be discontinued with immediate effect in the interest of peaceful coexistence.
Finally, MURIC challenges those who show interest in liberating Muslim girls from what they call child marriage should equally demonstrate interest in supporting the Muslim woman to dress decently in the way and manner she prefers without let or hinderance if indeed they are sincere about setting the Muslim girl free.
Ailing Governor Danbaba Danfulani Suntai returned to the country a few weeks ago after spending ten months abroad receiving medical attention for injuries sustained in an aircrash in 2012. But his return has ignited tension in the state and created a wide political gulf between those who want him to resume work as governor immediately and those who deem him unfit to continue in office. Keen observers have seen how the governor was aided from the aircraft that brought him into the country. More revealing was his purported address and swearing in of new officials.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is convinced that certain dramatis personae are re-enacting the Yaradua drama in Taraba State. The ailing governor, from all indications, is oblivious of whatever is happening around him. The best anyone who claims to love him can do now is to allow him to have full rest instead of railroading him into performing official functions for which he may not be mentally alert and physically prepared. Our position is further cemented by media reports of yesterday in which medical experts in the US-based hospital in which the governor was treated affirmed that he must be allowed to rest.
The governor's cronies, his boot-lickers and court-jesters must learn from the mistakes of the close aides of late President Umaru Musa Yar'adua who, in their bid to retain political power, overworked the late president, concealed him from public glare and even blocked important state officials like the vice president from setting eyes on him. History is currently repeating itself in Taraba as the Acting Governor, Alhaji Garba Umar, is treated like a leper by the ailing governor's kitchen cabinet. This is happening in spite of the confirmation of the Deputy Governor as Acting Governor by the ruling party in the state, the People's Democratic Party (PDP).
We appeal to all stakeholders in the state to allow sanity to prevail. We cannot get it right in Nigeria until we eschew tribal and religious sentiment. The law is very clear about what happens when a governor is indisposed. Jalingo must therefore allow the rule of law to prevail. Most importantly, the Acting Governor must be given every necessary cooperation and support to move the state forward. The lawmakers in Jalingo must manifest a unique sense of maturity in this regard. We warn that this is not an ideal setting for cooking up an impeachment against the Acting Governor over flimsy and baseless excuses. Jalingo lawmakers must rally behind the Acting Governor to take Taraba State to the next level.
Professor Ishaq Akintola, Director, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC). 08182119714