Friday, October 13, 2017

MURIC COMMENDS ARMY FOR CROCODILE SMILE MEDICAL OUTREACH



13th October, 2017
PRESS RELEASE:
MURIC COMMENDS ARMY
FOR CROCODILE SMILE MEDICAL OUTREACH


The Nigerian Army commenced a military exercise tagged ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ in the South West few days ago. A major feature of the exercise is its medical outreach which provides locals the opportunity to access medical care pro bono.        


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is greatly excited by this initiative. It is profound, patriotic and chivalrous.


Apart from the brilliant idea of providing medical care for the local population, Operation Crocodile Smile is capable of reducing the rate of crime in the South West. It should be noted that the South East, which is notorious for its high crime rate reportedly became calm few weeks after the commencement of Operation Python Dance by the Nigerian Army.


These military exercises are necessary once in a while in view of the proliferation of criminal activities in the country. Armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, etc remain on high profile. But the general state of insecurity became pronounced with the threat of secession made by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). The seizure of several weapons actually raised the alert level to red.


This year alone, 661 pump action guns were confiscated by the Nigerian customs on January 30, 2017. 440 guns illegally imported from Turkey were discovered by customs on May 24. Another 1,100 were recovered on September 11 while 470 pump action guns were seized on September 21. More powerful weapons like machine guns and RPGs were also seized at the border.  


It is normal for these seizures to give the authorities and the discerning public cause for serious concern and the volatile situation altogether constituted the raison d’etre for military exercises like Operations Python Dance and Crocodile Smile.


MURIC commends the Nigerian Army for this proactive measure. Arrogant force will not bow until counter-force surfaces. We also laud the Federal government (FG) for deeming it fit to approve the military exercises. It is well-known that a weak government cannot protect innocent citizens. Equally credit-worthy is the Nigerian chief of customs, Ahmed Ali. The brilliant performance of the customs department during his tenure can be traced to his high level of discipline. The importers of those dangerous weapons could have had their way but for his tough stance.


We are however deeply perturbed by the irrational outcry of a few disgruntled elements who have condemned the exercises. The most noteworthy is the latest call on Yorubas to boycott the medical outreach in Operation Crocodile Smile. We reject this demand. It is not only infantile but also irresponsible. This request is sadistic and anti-people in view of the situation of medical facilities in the country as well as the poverty level among the populace. Anyone who asks the poor masses to boycott a medical outreach where they can have access to free medicare is out of touch with reality. It is only criminals and anarchists who will object to a military exercise designed to keep kidnappers and armed robbers at bay.


Finally, we charge Nigerians in general and the Yoruba in particular, to give full cooperation to soldiers engaged in the exercise. It is for our safety. The citizenry must be security conscious. Kidnapping is alien to Nigerian culture and everything necessary must be done to bring this menace to a halt. We urge the Nigerian Army to sustain the exercise until criminals find something more productive to do. We suggest a quarterly repeat until irredentists and criminals are forced out of business.


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



Sunday, October 8, 2017

RESTRUCTURING NIGERIA: MUSLIMS SEEK SIX RELIEFS



9th October, 2017
PRESS RELEASE:
RESTRUCTURING NIGERIA: MUSLIMS SEEK SIX RELIEFS


The Federal Government appears set for restructuring particularly with the setting up of a committee on this crucial matter by the ruling party, the All Peoples’ Congress (APC). Restructuring became popular after the South East, South South and a section of the South West complained about marginalization. Several politicians from both the opposition and the ruling party have since spoken in support of this clamour.


However, we of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) dissociate ourselves from all agitations for secession. We condemn all irredentist movements rearing their ugly heads in Southern Nigeria, particularly the agitation for the creation of Oduduwa Republic. We affirm clearly, unambiguously and unequivocally, that Muslim leaders in Yorubaland were not carried along before those demands were tabled. Nonetheless, just as some ethnic groups have complained of disaffections, we contend that Nigerian Muslims also nurse serious grudges bordering on marginalization against the Nigerian state.


We must start from the lanes of 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). The British did not deem it fit to observe the rules of natural justice when they colonized the country as all Islamic landmarks were eliminated and supplanted with a wholly Christian system.


This injustice may have been at the root of frequent religious crisis in Nigeria because successive governments after independence refused to listen to the agitations of Muslims for a review of the status quo. The issues being raised by Muslims are listed in the following paragraphs so that the authorities may address them when restructuring eventually begins.


One: 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. Five (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.


Restructuring should give Muslims 1st Muharram. This will bring the total number of Muslim holidays to four while Christian holidays remain five.


Two: Christian marriages contracted inside churches or registries are held sacrosanct everywhere in Nigeria whereas Muslim marriages (nikah) are not recognized for any official purpose. Muslim couples find themselves in a cul de sac each time they presented their Islamic marriage certificates for official purposes. It is paradoxical that in a democracy, one marriage conducted by a religious group is acceptable while the other is not. What kind of constitution is Nigeria using?


Islamic marriages should be recognized in all official circles where Christian marriages are recognized. The Nigerian Marriage Act (1990) should therefore be revisited.


Three: 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 to favour the Seventh Day Adventists, a Christian denomination during the regime of General Yakubu Gowon, a Christian military ruler. 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.


It is pertinent to note that Friday was a work-free day until the British brought Christianity and stopped Muslims from enjoying their Allah-given fundamental human right. The relief we are seeking through restructuring is that Friday should be declared free to assume parity with the Christians’ Sunday. While we are not seeking anarchy, we are confident that the Federal Government (FG) has all the paraphernalia of administration to work out the modalities.


Four: Immigration officials engage in regular stereotyping of Muslims who apply for international passports. They intimidate Muslims particularly at the point of taking pictures. 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. The same scenario plays itself out in driving licence, national identity card offices and during registration for elections.


In the process, thousands of Muslims have been denied international passports, driving licences and  national identity cards while millions have been disenfranchised during elections. The authorities must find a way of stopping the persecution and profiling of Muslims.


Five: Uniformed groups in Nigeria, including the army, police, uniformed voluntary groups, nurses, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), students of primary and secondary schools, etc, use uniforms designed by the Christian colonialists. These uniforms should have been reviewed after independence because they only suit the Christians. Some of them constitute breaches to Islamic dress code and offend the sensibility of Muslims who are compelled to wear the uniforms regardless of their inner feeling of resentment.


In view of the fact that Western countries like Britain, Canada and the United States have designed uniforms with hijab for their female Muslim police, soldiers, students, etc, Nigeria’s restructuring authorities should borrow a leaf from those countries.


Six: There is no single Shari’ah court in South Western Nigeria where Muslims constitute the majority. This is contrary to what obtained in Yorubaland before the advent of the British. There were Shariah courts in Ede, Iwo, Ikirun, Ibadan, etc. Yoruba Muslims are now compelled to take their civil matters like inheritance, marriage, etc to Christo-Western courts. This is preposterous and unacceptable.


We demand the establishment of Shariah courts in all South Western states including Edo State where there is a significant percentage of Muslims.


We call the attention of FG and the restructuring committee of the APC to the above six reliefs. Muslims are in bondage in this country and we believe that restructuring should emancipate people in captivity. APC promised change. This change can only be meaningful to us if it breaks the shackles around our necks. We have begged enough for the restoration of our Allah-given and fundamental human rights. We are tired of begging. Restructuring is about reapportioning the dividends of democracy such that it goes round and it is not restricted to one section.


Colonial administration was grossly unfair to Muslims. Nigeria was Christianised by Britain and Muslims bore the brunt. We suffered forceful conversion, denial of rightful employment and even worse forms of persecution. But what is most disappointing is the policy of exclusion adopted by post-independence governments.


On a final note, we demand full integration and full recognition as bona fide citizens of Nigeria, not second or third class citizens. We are the aggrieved party. The British most brutally and most unjustly took all we had from us, giving us nothing in return and offering no relief. It has continued to give us a feeling of rejection, marginalization, denial of the dividends of democracy and lack of a sense of belonging. The time for redress is now and our six-point relief is here for all to digest.


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


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

VOTE OUT CORRUPTION IN 2019



4th October, 2017
PRESS RELEASE:
VOTE OUT CORRUPTION IN 2019


The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently announced Saturday, February 16th 2019 as the date for the 2019 presidential election.      


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) commends INEC for being proactive. This announcement came early enough to alert all stakeholders to the need for early preparations.


MURIC seizes this opportunity to remind Nigerian youths to ensure that they get their voters’ cards as soon as possible. However, we believe that the earlier they get the cards, the better in order to avoid the rush usually associated with late registration. We advance the same advice to other Nigerians who, for one reason or another, have no voters’ cards.


We note with deep concern that Nigerian youths who are most likely to feel the impact of bad governance more than any other segment in society are often lackadaisical about voting. Yet there is no other globally recognized way of changing a bad system or entrenching a good one besides going through the ballot box.


MURIC reminds Nigerians that corruption has been the major barrier that stands between them and higher living standards. Although the present administration is tackling this social cankerworm headlong, some corrupt politicians occupying sensitive positions have been blocking its efforts. The only way to ease out these corrupt politicians is to become active participants in the electoral process. We therefore urge all Nigerians to get their voters cards in order to vote out corruption in 2019.


Nigerian youths must exercise their franchise and refuse to be used as thugs who will unleash violence on innocent Nigerians. We charge parents, particularly women, to counsel their children properly and to ensure that they are not hoodwinked by political charlatans.


In addition, we invite the electorate to avoid self-disenfranchisement. This is likely to happen if they sell their voters’ cards. Whoever sells his voters’ card has sold his destiny for a pot of porridge. Nigerians must beware of ‘stomach infrastructure’ politicians who will come to them with a plate of rice. Why should we mortgage the next four years (2019 – 2023) for a paltry N500 or a plate of fufu? Nigerians must beware of stomach infrastructure offered only during election time. It will only prolong suffering for another four years. We must vote for credible candidates in order to banish suffering permanently.


According to Martin Luther King Jnr, "Those who love peace must learn to plan effectively as those who love war." Nigerian security agencies and other stakeholders must work hard to make 2019 general elections violence-free. Kidnapping of candidates, snatching of ballot boxes, launching physical attacks on voters, etc are acts capable of marring elections. Only a free and fair election can lead to good governance and lift Nigeria to the club of democratically mature nations.  


As we round up, we remind Nigerians of the wise words of George Orwell that, “People that elect corrupt politicians, impostors, thieves and traitors are not victims … but accomplices”. We therefore plead with Nigerians to be fully prepared to send corrupt and selfish politicians packing. The only way to do this is to ensure that we do not only register for the 2019 general elections but we also jealously protect our voters’ cards and put them to effective use at the right time. Corrupt politicians become presidents, governors, senators, etc because good Nigerians fail to vote.
   

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