Wednesday, January 31, 2018

CAN’S DENIAL OF RELIGIONISATION OF POLITICS: WE ARE NOT CONVINCED



1st February, 2018

PRESS RELEASE:
CAN’S DENIAL OF RELIGIONISATION OF POLITICS:
WE ARE NOT CONVINCED

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday denied instigating Christians to vote for Christians only in the 2019 general elections. The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) had alleged on Tuesday, 30th January, 2018 that the Christian umbrella body was instigating Christians against voting for Muslim politicians.

We are not convinced by CAN’s denial though its denial did not surprise us. It is only natural. Yet in spite of the denial, Nigerians know that CAN’s body language speaks volumes. Its hate speeches are legend. Its bitter expressions underline its frustration. CAN is desperate to install a Christian president in Nigeria.


Can CAN deny calling on all churches to pray for Christian victory in the wake of the Benue killings? Nigerian churches were told to spend the whole of Sunday January 7, 2019 praying for victory for Christians. The directive was issued by CAN in its January 5 press statement. That directive naturally caught our attention and we monitored the manner the prayers were offered in some Nigerian cities. We heard more curses than prayers in some noisy churches. While some prayed for victory for Christians, most churches rained abuses, invectives and curses on the Buhari administration. It was more of hysteria than the atmosphere of serenity required in places of worship. CAN has stirred up emotions in Nigerian churches.


Can CAN also deny that it has openly directed Christians all over the country to go into politics? CAN openly gave that instruction on 19th January, 2018. What assurance do we have that there was no hidden message in that directive? What assurance do we have that there were no other secret messages sent round after the public directive? Who is a fool?


If religion is a private affair, why is CAN always interfering in the privacies of its followers. Why must they be directed in a matter unrelated to religion? Religion is a private matter when it pleases CAN but it is a public affair when it suits the umbrella Christian body. As far as CAN is concerned, Christians are free to organize themselves publicly but Muslims must never be allowed to come together publicly to organize their affairs. Such double standard is, to say the least, disgusting.


Can CAN also disown a certain John B. Damuna who calls himself the Assistant Coordinator of the Christian Youth Organization of Nigeria Northern chapter? John Damuna in a document in our possession warns Christians that it would be a disaster if a Christian did not emerge president in 2019. He claims to be carrying out the directive of CAN. We are going to be silent about what he said concerning herdsmen and almajiris in the same document so that we do not stir another crisis.


CAN should stop deceiving us. It is more honourable to admit one’s actions and statements. It is no longer religion when we say one thing and pretend we never did. Let us leave such antics to politicians. The alternative is to derobe and don the toga of politics.


The last time we checked, ex-Presidents Mathew Okikiola Obasanjo and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan were still Christians. If it is true that Obasanjo ruled Nigeria for eight good years (1999 – 2007) and former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was in power for six years (2010 – 2015), CAN cannot rationalize its present craving for a Christian president. On what ground? Of the nineteen (19) years of civil rule which began in 1999, Muslims have only been in power for five (5) years while Christians have ruled for fourteen (14) years. So what is the rush all about? Turn by turn, remember?




As a last shot, we remind churches and mosques to mind their language as we march towards 2019. Our places of worship are filled up with leaders and members of all the political parties. We may be shooting ourselves in the foot if we use our places of worship to demarket any political party or any political leader. Religious leaders should rein in their firebrand activists to avoid creating unnecessary tension. We need peace now more than before.


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


Monday, January 29, 2018

2019: CAN IS RELIGIONISING POLITICS



30th January, 2018

PRESS RELEASE:
2019: CAN IS RELIGIONISING POLITICS

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has begun subterranean mobilization of Christians in the country in preparation for the 2019 general elections. In CAN’s most recent election-related stunt, particularly on social media, Christians were instructed to shun Muslim candidates (especially President Muhammadu Buhari) and to vote massively for Christian candidates instead.      

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) condemns CAN’s resort to acrobatic religiousity in the political arena. It is parochial, pernicious, myopic and unpatriotic.

Politicisation of religion will not take us anywhere in this country. It is to the glory of our gymnastic religiousity that we are clever devils today. In spite of the proliferation of churches and mosques on our streets, our paradoxical criminality has no equal under the sun. Is this the time to dig deeper into religious zealotry by indulging in religious politics?

MURIC calls on Nigerians to reject CAN’s attempt to drag Nigeria into the abyss of another religious crisis over the 2019 general elections. It is crude, na├»ve and infantile. We urge citizens not to allow excellence to be sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity. Serious nations focus on result-oriented criteria like credibility, pedigree, ability to deliver, high level patriotism, farsightedness and industry. Nigeria should be the issue, not primordial sentiments like religion and ethnicity.

MURIC’s advice to Nigerian Muslims: Don’t vote for religion. Shun ethnic blindness. Afterall, many of those who corruptly enriched themselves are Muslim politicians. Vote according to your conscience. Those who stole billions of naira from the public treasury did not think of their Muslim brothers when they were stealing. They were driven by egocentricity, not by their love for Islam. If a Christian candidate has the right qualities, vote for him. This is about Nigeria, not about the mosque. We will cross our bridges when we get to them.


In a nutshell, we urge responsible Christians all over the country to ignore CAN’s pernicious and tortuous propaganda of ‘Christians vote for Christians’. Nigerian Muslims should vote for candidates trusted for delivery of the dividends of democracy, not for religion. Looters who try to deceive Nigerians in 2019 will have themselves to blame if Muslims, Christians and traditionalists can come together to shun corrupt elements in society during the 2019 elections. Imams, pastors and priests should publicly rain curses on looters to keep them at bay.


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

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

OBASANJO VERSUS BUHARI: THE VICTIM IS TURNED CULPRIT




17th January, 2018
PRESS RELEASE:
OBASANJO VERSUS BUHARI: THE VICTIM IS TURNED CULPRIT
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday berated President Muhammadu Buhari. Among other things, he advised him not to seek re-election in 2019.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) believes that Obasanjo’s tirade would have been right had he fired it at the National Assembly which has been holding Buhari by the hand. But alas! Obasanjo has chosen the victim instead of the culprit. Although Obasanjo’s epistle is profound, recondite and arcane, we are constrained to conclude that certain germane correlates have not been put into consideration by the respected retired general and ex-head of state.

Such factors include the circumstances under which the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) was formed; the congressional booby trap into which the Buhari administration was welcomed ab initio, which, regrettably, is still in operation; the merger agreement which compelled the running of government with moles and saboteurs (e.g. electricity discos which are still in the hands of the opposition party); Buhari’s prolonged health challenge allegedly occasioned by deliberate poisoning; etc.

The crux of all these factors is the National Assembly (NASS) which has constituted itself into a clog in the wheel of progress for the Buhari administration. Buhari is therefore the victim, not the culprit. Buhari is the victim of a well-knitted political conspiracy. Never in the history of Nigeria has any president been entrapped by a hostile and belligerent parliament. This is a NASS ostensibly led by his own party men but who, in reality, are better described as Messrs Jekyll and Hyde.

Short of playing the ostrich, we opine that what Obasanjo considers failures of the Buhari regime are areas that have been so unpatriotically designed and inhumanly conditioned by the immediate past ruling party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). The North was virtually shut down during the Jonathan regime and any appointment given the North went to minority Christians. We still note that Buhari has appointed quite a number of Northern Christians in the present administration. Clannishness is therefore not in Buhari’s character.


We cannot understand the parameter used in arriving at the allegation of corruption against the Buhari regime. This is a president who clamped his personal friend in jail over allegations of graft. Former Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, is now in EFCC cell.


Can we compare ex-President Jonathan of the stealing is not corruption fame to Buhari’s “kill corruption before it kills Nigeria?” Can we compare Jonathan’s pomp, pageantry and fanfare to Buhari’s prudent and low-key approaches? Can we compare Patience Jonathan who used the presidential jets even for shopping in Dubai to Aisha Buhari’s use of commercial planes each time she travelled?


Buhari has performed fairly well in spite of all encumbrances. Foreign reserves have hit $40 billion despite falling oil prices. For the first time in the history of this country, sacred cows were rendered accountable. An ex-governor was jailed. Corrupt judges were docked. Again for the first time, the Nigerian customs realized up to one trillion naira in 2017. The Joint Matriculations Board (JAMB) made N7 billion naira within one year. Jonathan’s Boko Haram put Nigerian soldiers on the run and occupied more than 15 local governments. Buhari’s Boko Haram is on the run and surrendering in droves.


We are apprehensive of Obasanjo’s suggestion of a completely new arrangement, a third force. This may plunge Nigeria into chaos. The devil we know is better than the angel we do not know. We do not see a better alternative yet. Nigerians must be wary of made-in-Israel alliances and MOSAB infested youth groups. We have seen the deep animosity with which Muslims are treated in such groups particularly on social media. We will not accept those who treat Muslims like lepers and never show interest in our predicaments.


Make no mistake about it, President Muhammadu Buhari is not the Muslim president who is passionate about redressing the wrongs done to Nigerian Muslims in the past. We knew that even before he won the election. He is not ready to visit those issues. He is not the type of Muslim committed to righting wrongs done to Muslims. Buhari will not fight for Muslims. But he will not steal. He will not condone stealing. He will not allow any faith to come under the hammer of persecution. That is enough for us. We therefore want to make it clear that we are not routing for Buhari’s second term because he is a Muslim.  


Yet it must be noted that the concern of the Muslim Rights Concern is not Buhari. Our concern is Nigeria. Any transparent and credible Nigerian is welcome. Any Nigerian of any faith is alright for us as president so long as he gives Muslims their Allah-given fundamental human rights. We are neither for APC nor for PDP. We are party-blind. We will not cry louder than the bereaved if Buhari’s party finds him marketable for a second term. Neither shall we take a plunge into the lagoon because a credible alternative has been found either by the opposition or by Buhari’s party.  


As a parting shot, we urge ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo to take another look at his thesis, to eschew perception and to turn his hose towards the fire, not towards the smoke. NASS is the snake under the green grass. Buhari can take Nigeria to El Dorado if he is given a second term without this conflagration on the roof. As a highly experienced and versatile ex-head of state, Obasanjo can assist Buhari in reducing this risk. We leave the matter to Buhari to decide if he feels strong enough to continue in power, particularly under a new, improved congressional atmosphere.


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


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

ARREST ALL KILLERS, NOT BENUE KILLERS ALONE



17th January, 2018
PRESS RELEASE:
ARREST ALL KILLERS, NOT BENUE KILLERS ALONE
The Nigerian Senate yesterday gave the Inspector General of Police (IG) 14 days to arrest and prosecute Benue killers.    

While the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) welcomes this development, we see the need for clarification and modification of Senate’s request.

In the first place, we need to ask whether the killers who should be arrested are just herdsmen who have been accused of killings in Benue. If this is so, there is need for modification particularly in the light of the exposure of a killer army being sponsored by Benue State authorities and the claim by herdsmen that the Benue militia had been killing Fulanis in the state. Therefore IG must not only arrest killer herdsmen but also arrest, detain and prosecute killer militiamen in illegal camps in Benue.

Secondly, IG’s deterrent action must not be limited to Benue alone. He must spread his dragnet to Taraba, Plateau and other volatile states where killings of all forms have occurred. The herdsmen have complained that 1,000 of their men have been killed in different states while two million of their cattle have been rustled. No serious security outfit can close its eyes to this allegation if it wants enduring peace.

What MURIC is saying is that arresting and prosecuting herdsmen alone for killings in Benue can only give Nigeria peace of the graveyard. It will not last. For lasting peace, we must fish out those who have been killing herdsmen and rustling their cows. That is comprehensive justice. Only a holistic disciplinary action can halt the cycle of violence.


MURIC is deeply concerned that nobody was arrested when 732 Fulanis were killed in Mambila, Plateau State. We are greatly worried that the security agents looked on as 82 women and children of Fulani stock were massacred in Numan, Adamawa State by Bachama militiamen. Again, what did the IG do when 24 Fulanis were killed in Lau? What did the army do when 96 Fulanis were cut down in cold blood in Kajuru, Kaduna State?


Our pertinent question here is: are Fulanis not human beings like other Nigerians? Can we imagine the total number of lives lost by the Fulani within a period of seven months? To us in MURIC, every Nigerian life is precious. Killers are killers no matter where they come from. But we must not stigmatise a whole tribe because of the criminal activities of a few. We must separate killers from their tribes and their religion.


There are law-abiding, patriotic and good citizens among the Christians, Muslims and traditionalists but criminal elements are also in all faiths. It is the same among all ethnic groups. The fact that Evans is a kidnapper does not make all Igbo indigenes kidnappers. As we have criminal Fulanis and Tivs, so we have erudite scholars, seasoned lawyers, high profile politicians, experienced administrators and business moguls among them. Oyenusi, a Yoruba man, was the first armed robber executed by a firing squad in Nigeria, but does that make all Yoruba people armed robbers?


Those who ethnicise or religionise killings are enemies of Nigeria. They are deliberately inviting anarchy. But we must exercise caution because nobody knows who will survive a national pogrom. How can anybody in his right senses say the killings in Benue are targeted at Christians?


Are the people of Zamfara also Christians? Killings in Zamfara have been occurring for years yet nobody did anything. The Nigerian Army, the police and DSS went to sleep. The press looked the other way. 23 locals were killed in Daraga in October 2011. 48 lives were terminated in June 2013 in Kizara village. More than 200 people were massacred in April 2014 in Unguwar Galadima. 50 were slaughtered in Kwanar Dutse in February 2016. 36 were killed in Bindin in November of the same year while another 23 people were killed in Tungar Kahau and Mallamawa, all in Zamfara State alone. All the victims were Muslims but nobody showed concern.


To cut a long story short, we charge the IG to conduct a comprehensive and impartial investigation, arrest, detention and prosecution of all killers among the herdsmen, Benue militia, Bachama terrorists and all criminal elements who are cutting short the lives of innocent Nigerians. We urge the press to avoid assymetrical journalism and to Nigerianise their reportage, particularly in sensitive cases like that of Benue.  


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