Monday, March 19, 2018
19th March, 2018
WAEC IS CONFUSED
The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) recently scheduled Chemistry for 2 pm to 4 pm on Friday 20th April, 2018. Muslims all over the world attend Jumat prayer in their mosques from 1 – 2.30 pm on Fridays. As a rule, therefore, educational institutions and offices leave a two-hour window (from 1 to 3 pm) for the Muslims to worship. WAEC examination is expected to start from Tuesday 3rd April to Tuesday 15th May, 2018.
In the face of a barrage of criticisms from Islamic organizations including the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), WAEC modified its invidious timetable. Chemistry, which was earlier fixed for 2 – 4 pm on Friday 20th April, 2018 was moved backwards to Tuesday 10th April, 2018. Ceramics (Essay) and Forestry (Essay) will now be held on Friday 20th April, 2018 from 2 pm to 4 pm.
Reports that WAEC has amended this timetable could not be confirmed by us because the information was not on WAEC’s website when we checked to confirm. Only Premium Times, a leading online newspaper and a student information portal (http://studentinfoportal.com/education-news/waec-adjusts-wassce-timetable-to-enable-muslims-observe-jumaat/. It claimed that the Director of Public Affairs, WAEC Nigeria, Mr. Demianus Ojijeogu has confirmed the slight amendment.
Mr Ojijeogu was quoted as saying, “For the sake of the people who will go to the mosque, the exam will be delayed till they come back”. According to him, “the paper will be delayed till 2:30 pm or 3 pm, when the Muslims will return from the mosque.”
This is not a categorical statement. It is not convincing enough. It leaves Muslim candidates at the mercy of WAEC’s ad hoc staff, invigilators and supervisors, some of whom can be overzealous Muslim-haters. WAEC needs to withdraw its first offensive timetable, issue a press statement and follow this up with the publication of an amended timetable.
Even if it is true, this amendment still needs clarification from WAEC. For instance, we need to know whether or not some Muslim candidates take these two subjects (Ceramics and Forestry). Yet this may not be the end of our inquiry even if no Muslim candidate has registered for the subjects this year because some Muslim candidates are likely to show interest in them in the near future.
The ideal thing for WAEC to do, therefore, is to steer clear completely from scheduling any examination during the Jumat period. There is no need to stereotype Muslims and the subjects they are likely to take. Knowledge is a universal thing and candidates are not likely to consider religion as a factor when choosing their subjects.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) was shocked by the first timetable released by WAEC. It was unfair, tyrannical and provocative. It was equally myopic, thoughtless and parochial. This ‘amended’ version presupposes that WAEC is confused.
We were shocked because issues like this had been trashed out with WAEC before. For WAEC to have tried this again, we strongly suspect that the regional examination body is suffering from chronic administrative amnesia.
WAEC appears confused because there are three other clashes on the ‘amended’ timetable which WAEC did not address at all. Social Studies (Objective) is slated for 1 – 1.50 pm on Friday 4th May, 2018 while Electronics (Objective) is also billed to take place between 1 and 3 pm on Friday 11th May, 2018. Woodwork is equally scheduled for the same day from 12 – 3 pm. So how do we reconcile all these? WAEC is out to slay Muslim candidates.
Placed pari passu with the ‘amended’ timetable, it is clear that WAEC’s spokesperson seeks to deceive Muslim candidates. He is leading them into a trap. If indeed the timetable has been amended and Chemistry has been moved to morning period on Tuesday 10th April, 2018, why would there be any need for “the exam would be delayed till they come back” since it would no longer be taken on a Friday.
WAEC spokesperson also spoke of the paper being delayed till “…2.30 pm or 3 pm”. This is supposed to be a policy matter. Is he not so sure? Which one should WAEC ad hoc officials operate? 2.30 pm deadline or 3 pm? WAEC is speaking from both sides of its mouth.
We recall our press statement dated 26th August, 2015 under the caption “WAEC Examination Timetable is an Invitation to Chaos”. That press statement was issued three years ago when WAEC fixed three different subjects between the hours of 1pm and 3 pm on three consecutive Fridays running from 11th, 18th, and 25th September of that year. MURIC cried foul and WAEC later adjusted its timetable.
So what has changed since then? Does WAEC intend to bring examination materials to its Muslim candidates in the mosque? Is WAEC asking Muslim candidates to choose between worshipping and their examination just as some religious bigots told Muslim students in the past? Is this not an attempt by WAEC to jeopardize the interest and future of Muslim candidates? Is this also not a deliberate attempt to ease out Muslims from vital degree courses like medicine, pharmacy, nursing, etc?
Once is happenstance, twice is a coincidence but the third time is enemy action. The 2015 incident was not the first time. Is WAEC targeting Muslim candidates for destabilization? It appears the only language WAEC understands is force. Although Muslims will not resort to the use of force, we will resist WAEC’s illegal, unlawful, illegitimate and unconstitutional manipulation of its timetable to deprive Muslim candidates of their Allah-given fundamental right to worship as enshrined in Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 2011 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. Any WAEC timetable which trespasses into the Jumat period (12 – 3 pm on Friday) is therefore ultra vires, null and void.
By this press statement, we are notifying the Federal Ministry of Education of the volatile nature of WAEC’s timetable. It is capable of causing a disturbance of public peace if it erodes the Jumat period. Nigeria has witnessed enough religious riots and the Ministry must call WAEC to order.
WAEC’s regional status notwithstanding, the Ministry of Education owes it a duty to ensure that no educational exercise capable of stirring civil disturbance is allowed to take place under its watch. The Ministry of Education should have an input in an exercise of this magnitude. In view of the fact that WAEC keeps repeating the same irritating and illegal time table year after year, we suggest that from now on, WAEC time tables should be scrutinized by the ministry of education to ensure that nothing unlawful creeps into it.
Muslim candidates and their parents will be left with no choice than to mobilize to WAEC examination centers in peaceful protest if this complaint is ignored.
We demand a WAEC timetable that leaves the 12 – 3 pm window which Muslims need for Jumat service untouched. An ideal examination timetable for Friday will therefore be 9 am to 12 noon and 3.30 – 6 pm. In fact, heaven will not fall if examinations are limited to morning period on Fridays.
The WAEC timetable imbroglio has once again brought the Friday Question to focus. We have no iota of doubt that WAEC will have no audacity to fix an examination during the Jumat period if Friday is free like Sunday. Or should we simply ask WAEC to fix one subject for the Jumat period and another one on Sunday morning from 9 am to 12 noon, at least for parity? How does that sound? Who feels it knows it. WAEC should stop oppressing Muslims. All we are saying is: Give Us Jumat period. Respect Allah, our Creator, even if you don’t respect us.
WAEC is pursuing an aggressive anti-Islam policy. Fixing examinations during Jumat service gives non-Muslims undue advantage over Muslims. This is discriminatory and unjust. WAEC has lost its soul.
To round up, we charge the Federal Ministry of Education to call WAEC to order. We advise WAEC authorities to consult widely when fixing its timetable because no public institution is an island, entire of itself. WAEC should note that the Jumat period (12 – 3 pm) is not negotiable for any subject. We urge Muslims to remain calm, to eschew violence but to be alert and watchful. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
15th March, 2018
FAILED PUBLIC HEARING: MURIC SUSPECTS FOUL PLAY
The public hearing organized by the House Committee on Judiciary and Justice failed to hold for the second time yesterday, Wednesday 14th March, 2018. Although several Muslim groups appeared for the purported hearing, they were disappointed as the chairman of the committee, Hon. Razaq Atunwa, explained that an interlocutory injunction seeking to stop the hearing had been served on the committee.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) condemns this development. Apart from being highly provocative, it is saddening, nauseating and appalling. It is an attempt to manipulate the course of justice, a rape of democracy and a travesty of justice. But above all, it is an attempt to make a mockery of the legislature.
It will be recalled that the same committee had slated the hearing for Tuesday, 6th February, 2018 but even this first hearing was halted few hours to the event because, according to the committee chairman, “The body of Benchers was to deliberate on the matter on 8th February”.
MURIC strongly denounces this delay tactics. Justice delayed is justice denied. The authors of the injunction are up to sinister objectives. They want to gag Muslims from airing their own side of the story. They know that the Law School has erred by depriving Firdaus Amasa her right to call to bar just because she refused to remove her hijab.
The decision of the committee to call off yesterday’s public hearing makes a mockery of the principle of the separation of power. It is another colossal waste of resources and manpower. The committee places advertisements each time a date is fixed for this public hearing but ends up doing nothing.
Is this not a hocus pocus? Several stakeholders travelled to Abuja from distant places like Port Harcourt, Kano, Lagos, Maiduguri, etc. They had to arrive since Tuesday in order to attend the 10 am public hearing. They wasted money on air tickets and hotel accommodation. They also wasted man-hour that could otherwise have been used on other productive ventures and not phantom public hearings.
Getting to the venue per se was another Herculean task as we had a running battle with National Assembly policemen who refused to allow entry. Yet we were told that there would be no public hearing after sitting for almost one hour. It is sad, very sad. The average Nigerian has lost confidence in the judicial system. Who did this to Nigeria?
MURIC asserts that the judiciary is Nigeria’s numero uno problem. Get the judiciary right and everything else will fall into place. Laughable, kindergarten and contradictory injunctions are granted without proper consideration. A large number of such injunctions in Nigerian courts are long in imbecility but short in professionalism. The judiciary appears clumsy and uncoordinated. The Nigerian Judicial Council is therefore advised to clean up its constituency.
In the light of this ugly development, we call on the House Committee on Judiciary and Justice to study the 87 memoranda which the committee chairman admitted that it had been submitted to it with a view to using them to take an informed position on the matter at stake since there is no guarantee that any future public hearing on it will not be truncated with another injunction from enemies of justice and haters of truth.
As we round up, we appeal to Muslims all over the country to remain calm and law abiding. It is evident that concerted efforts are being made to provoke them but it behoves them as followers of the Prophet of peace to shun violence and all acts capable of breaching public peace.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
13th March, 2018
ALMAJIRI: NORTHERN GOVERNORS MUST ACT NOW
The number of children involved in the al-majiri system has been rated at over ten million. Recent studies have revealed that kids metamorphose from this ugly phenomenon to members of street gangs. It is strongly suspected that many al-majiri children are now commanders in the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) frowns at the poorly arranged educational system which resulted in the al-majiri syndrome. It is escapist, pernicious, retrogressive, counter-productive and inhuman.
Al-majiri as practiced in Northern Nigeria today is a bastardisation of the Islamic education system. Although the word is originally from ‘al-muhajirun’, i.e. migrants, a reference to the early Muslims who followed Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from Makkah to seek refuge in Madinah in 622 C.E., it is now used to refer to child beggars. These are children whose parents gave them out to teachers to learn the rudiments of Islam.
Unfortunately the system has bread poverty, homelessness and hopelessness. It has produced a fi sabilillahi mentality plus an army of vagabonds and a battalion of bowl-carrying kids always roaming the streets aimlessly. It ends up breeding hunger, squalor and the resultant disease.
For example, in places like Azare, Bauchi, al-majiris tie bowls to their clothes and beg for just anything, anything at all. In places like Maiduguri, Borno State, they offer to carry bags for strangers and they are ready to assist in doing house chores for a whole day once a meal is guaranteed. Older al-majiris in Maiduguri area sell sachet water while some do scavenging and sell whatever they find to recyclers.
In thunder, rain and flood, al-majiri children crowd up in open spaces to spend the night. The few who find shelter share single mosquito-infested rooms with scores of others. They are prone to all sorts of contagious diseases. Their personal safety cannot be guaranteed and many fall into the hands of bad gangs, e.g, the notorious Yandaba boys of Kano.
MURIC strongly condemns this obnoxious system. It cannot be called Islamic education in any sense as the focus of the children involved is fully on begging, searching for food and making a living. It makes mockery of the institution of parenthood as envisaged in Islam.
The Qur’an commands parents to take charge of the educational, social and economic responsibilities of their children from infancy till they reach the age of full maturity and capability. This age is forty years (Qur’an 2:233 and 46:15). It is therefore the height of abdication of parental responsibility to give out children to Islamic teachers without caring for the needs of such children and without paying the teachers for their services. No wonder the teachers end up exploiting the children for their personal needs.
MURIC exhorts Northern governors to come up with a master plan capable of resolving the al-majiri debacle once and for all. This plan should take cognizance of the need for a census of all those involved in the system, buildings to be used as hostels, modern structures to be used as schools, adequate remuneration for the Islamic teachers, free feeding and capacity building for the kids, etc.
While we commend the Jonathan administration for building al-Majiri schools in some parts of the North, Northern governors must be held responsible both for the misuse and disuse of those structures. Most of the al-majiri schools are lying fallow today while some have been converted to other uses. This is most unfortunate. The Buhari administration must also intervene by initiating a special project for the almajiranci.
In the final analysis, the blame rests squarely on Northern politicians dead and alive for failing to see the threat coming and for their inability to evolve a means of combating it and bringing it to a halt. It may have been callous and myopic, but the present crop of politicians must not repeat the mistakes of history. Al-majiris must be reined in if the North really wants Boko Haram and gangsterism to become history.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Sunday, March 11, 2018
12th March, 2018
MURIC DEMANDS ACTION ON CALL TO BAR SAGA
Amasa Firdaus was barred from call to bar ceremony of the School of Law on Wednesday, 13th December, 2017 because she refused to remove her hijab. The Tsunami of condemnations which followed this unjust treatment forced the House of Representatives to assign its Committee on Judiciary and Justice to investigate the matter.
However, a public hearing slated by the latter for Tuesday 6th February was suddenly postponed after a coalition of legal practitioners sought the courts intervention in stopping the public hearing. Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on 28th February restrained the House of representatives from holding the public hearing. Nothing has been heard since.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is horrified by the deafening silence coming from the House of representatives particularly after the court granted the injunction seeking to stop the public hearing.
We are palpably appalled by the seeming lack of a political will on the part of the representatives of the people to pursue the course of justice. The court merely stopped the public hearing. It did not stop the House from continuing other investigations. It did not stop the House from taking a position. So what is the House afraid of? What are the people’s representatives waiting for?
It is interesting to note that the House Committee on Judiciary and Justice had called for and received a large number of memoranda on the matter prior to the date fixed for public hearing. MURIC was one of several Islamic organizations which submitted memoranda to the committee. We submitted one by courier from Lagos and traveled to Abuja to submit another. The question is, “What has happened to all the memoranda?” It is our considered opinion that the huge volume of memoranda received by the House is enough to guide it in taking a decision on this crucial matter. Justice delayed is justice denied.
We are flabbergasted by the inaction of the House and its inexplicable procrastination. We are shocked to our marrows that a House which parades renowned activists cannot see the need to rise in defence of a poor, innocent and vulnerable feminine creature of the Adamic chromosome. We are disappointed that even the female members of the House cannot stand up to be counted in the struggle to get justice for Amasa Firdaus, the young, bold and vibrant Amazon of our time.
Amasa Firdaus must get justice. She has challenged an unjust status quo at a time many of us are succumbing to tyranny, oppression and persecution. The fact that a young lady has cried out in the midst of excruciating silence and in the face of repression should arouse the curiousity of women in the Green Chamber. The courage manifested by Firdaus should jog the chivalry in the veins of valiant men in the House.
Yet here again lies the anatomy of religious crisis, particularly those accompanied by violence and terrorism. Frustration often leads people to react when those in authority fail to address acts of injustice. We affirm clearly, categorically and unequivocally that justice is the soul of peace. There is a symbiotic connection between justice and peace to the extent that any society that fails to give justice will never have peace. No matter how hard they may try, deniers of one will never have the other.
Allah-given fundamental right of a Muslim lady was violated four months ago and our lawmakers are foot-dragging. Amasa’s mates who were called to bar on that fateful day are now working and earning a living in some law firms in the country. The hope of Amasa’s old parents that their daughter would soon start taking care of them is dashed. They had laboured in loco parentis under a hard economic situation to sponsor her through an expensive university education.
Who did this to Nigeria? If we are sincere about the pledge in our national anthem that “the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain”, why are we wasting the labour of our young ones, the leaders of tomorrow? Can’t we realize that Amasa Firdaus is a product of the labour of our heroes past? We claim to be encouraging female education but here we are frustrating the attainment of the educational goal of a female who has satisfied all righteousness.
MURIC demands action. We are counting the days. It is not in our character to issue threats. Neither do we subscribe to issuing ultimatum. But let nobody blame Muslims when they start peaceful demonstrations in the coming weeks. Let no one accuse Muslims of coming out on the streets. We will defend our sister if the authorities fail to act. We will use every legitimate means possible to get justice for Amasa Firdaus, the Muslim Amazon of our time.
In our concluding remarks, we contend that if, according to Martin Luther, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, then injustice to Amasa Firdaus is a threat to justice all over the world.
We therefore charge all lovers of freedom of expression, all champions of liberty, all promoters of women education and all those who oppose discrimination against women in all parts of the globe to identify with the case of Amasa Firdaus. We call on people of good conscience in Nigeria, Britain, America, France and elsewhere to prepare for non-violent agitations and peaceful demonstrations in the coming days.
State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria are advised to expect petitions and peaceful protesters. Muslim women, particularly in Nigeria, are reminded of the role which history has placed on their shoulders on this matter. Posterity will not forgive those who abdicate their responsibilities whether as lawmakers, non-governmental organizations or women groups. We should not rest until #JusticeforFirdaus becomes a fait accompli.
Nonetheless, MURIC issues a caveat emptor: no participant in this legitimate struggle must resort to violence of any type. True to our avowed motto, ‘Dialogue, Not Violence’, we are peace-loving, law-abiding and dialogue-prone. We detest violence and condemn terrorism. We are middle-roaders and socio-intellectual jihadists seeking freedom for the oppressed, food for the hungry, healing for the sick, clothing apparels for the naked and shelter for the homeless.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)