Wednesday, January 18, 2017

BILL ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS: DON’T POLLUTE OUR CLEAN WATER



18th January, 2017
PRESS RELEASE:
BILL ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS: DON’T POLLUTE OUR CLEAN WATER


The Nigerian Senate has been rushing through a bill on discrimination against women and equal inheritance shares since August 2016. The bill has gone through its second reading. But the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Muhammad Sa‘ad Abubakar III, has already expressed strong objection to the bill.


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is on the same page with the Sultan. We strongly condemn attempts to interfere in the private lives of Muslims without consulting them. The Nigerian Senate is fishing in troubled waters if it goes ahead with the bill as planned without considering the position of Muslims.


We assert that Islam has already liberated Muslim women and they are not discriminated against in any form. We remind Senate that discrimination against women was common around the world in ancient times. It never obtained in Islam. On the contrary, it was Islam which liberated women.


For the records, women were regarded as minors (no matter their age) and inferior creatures in ancient Greece. In Rome, they were given away in marriage without consent. Only males could inherit in India and any Indian woman whose husband died must be burned alive. In Persia they were pawned away in gambling. Female infanticide was the order of the day in ancient Arabia before Islam as the woman who failed to beget a male child had her female child buried alive!


But Islam changed all that. The Glorious Qur’an liberated women. They can work, earn income and own property (Qur’an 4:32). A Muslim woman is free to choose her own husband (Qur’an 4:19). Her dowry belongs to her (Qur’an 4:4). She can sue for divorce (Qur’an 4:128). The husband is under compulsion to feed, accommodate and clothe his wife according to his means (Qur’an 65:6 – 9).


What the brains behind the equal rights bill in Senate should have done is to study what obtains among the various cultures in Nigeria before attempting to impose any bill on us. It is an open secret that women are discriminated against in some places in this country, particularly in Southern Nigeria. Women are made to drink the water used to wash the corpse of their dead husbands to ascertain whether or not they had a hand in their husband’s death. They are not allowed to inherit their husbands.

But that does not apply to Muslim women. We accept the death of husbands as Allah’s wish. It is not in our character to demonise our women or to accuse them of witchcraft. We cherish them. We love them. Our women are our mothers and daughters and Allah has instructed us to show them love (Qur’an 30:21) and treat them with kindness (Qur’an 4:19).


Therefore nobody should pretend to liberate Muslim women from any perceived oppression. What have the champions of the equal rights bill done about Muslim women who are disallowed daily from using hijab in this country? Who gagged them when the hijab worn by a female Muslim candidate was yanked off by a WAEC supervisor in an examination hall in August 2016? What have they said so far since we have had to go to court to assert Allah-given fundamental human right of female Muslim students to use hijab?


We advise Senate to listen to the Sultan. The leader of Nigerian Muslims has spoken. We will not stand akimbo while a group of legislators rubbish the word of Allah. Islam has already legislated on the shares of women in inheritance and this is not debatable as far as Muslims are concerned. Islam does not discriminate against widows. It is certain traditional cultures which do. That does not warrant the imposition of unIslamic laws on Muslims who have already been protected by Islamic laws on inheritance.


It is equally didactic that the umbrella body of all Muslim women organizations in the country, the Federation of Muslim Women Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN) reeled out its position paper on the issue on January 7, 2017. FOMWAN rejected the bill, supported the Sultan’s position and warned Senate not to meddle with Muslims’ affairs. We also have it on good authority that FOMWAN leadership met the originator of the bill, Senator Christine Biodun Olujinmi last week and they told her their position.


One major problem with Nigeria is that those who claim to be interested in reform always ignore the stakeholders, particularly Muslims. They always pretend that certain perceived inequalities are general. They therefore attempt sweeping changes. But Muslims do not need reforms which ignore their Allah-given fundamental human rights. Nobody can love Muslims more than the Muslims themselves. We refuse to be led by the nose. You cannot give us what we already have. We already have clean and pure water. It is from Allah. It is divine. Caveat emptor, don’t pollute our water.  


Nigerian senators should learn from the Indian Succession Act of 1925. Under this law, every Indian woman can inherit equally with her male counterpart except those who are Bhudists, Hindus, Sikhs, Jainists and Muslims. This means that the Indian Act of 1925 recognized the laws of succession of Muslims and other faiths in India. In other words, our senators can go ahead with the bill, but please exempt Muslim women.


Permit us, therefore, to round up by affirming our rejection for the equal rights bill as passed by Senate. That law should not apply to Muslims. We have our own succession law which is already recognized by the Nigerian constitution. We support the application of the Senate bill to the oppressed women in other religions and cultures in the country. They need it. We don’t.  


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

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

SOUTHERN KADUNA: HEAR FROM ALL STAKEHOLDERS




3rd January, 2017
PRESS RELEASE:
SOUTHERN KADUNA: HEAR FROM ALL STAKEHOLDERS


The past one week has witnessed reckless violence in Southern Kaduna. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Catholic Archdiocese of Kafanchan have claimed that about 808 people have been killed so far in 53 villages.


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) condemns these killings. We hate violence. We detest the sight of blood. Human life is sacred and nobody has the right to take the life of a fellow human being.


Nonetheless, we call for caution. We remind all stakeholders that both the Qur’an and the Bible enjoin caution in cases like this. The two scriptures ask mankind to investigate all cases before jumping to conclusions (Qur’an 49:6; 1st Thessalonians 5:21).


Both the press and the security agencies have questions to answer on the pogrom going on in Southern Kaduna: the press for giving the Nigerian public only one side of the story and the security agencies for allowing the killings to continue unabated. We remind the Federal Government (FG) that the primary duty of government is to protect the citizens’ lives and properties. Article 14 Section 2(b) of the 1999 Constitution states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”.



MURIC is concerned that the public has been fed with only the Christian side of the story. Justice and fair hearing demands that we hear from the other side. What happened to professionalism on the part of the press? Is hearing from the other side also not part of investigative journalism? Are there no Islamic organizations in Southern Kaduna? What of the Muslim Youth Foundation of Southern Kaduna (MYFOSKA)? Why haven’t they been interviewed?


The Nigerian press should not be asymmetrical. Parochial reportage is an ill wind that will blow nobody any good. We can only know the beginning of a crisis. Nobody can predict its end. Those who fan the embers of violence may end up as victims. MURIC feels concerned whenever there is violence in Nigeria. What this country needs for economic recovery and political stability is peace.  
     

MURIC is in possession of documents which prove that Muslims were the first victims of attacks in Southern Kaduna and the attacks which targeted Muslim business premises, homes and families had begun since October 2016. But we will not release the documents yet so that the conflict will not exacerbate. Suffice it to note that security agents have caught some Christians with arms in the area since the conflict began some days ago.


We therefore take CAN’s allegation of official endorsement of the killings with a pinch of salt. It is subtle blackmail. Why must CAN’s handling of every crisis be clouded in religious profiling? It is high time we started to see our leaders as Nigerians and not as belonging to any particular tribe or faith. Criminals also must be seen from the point of view of their actions and not necessarily associated with their religion or ethnic group. Herdsmen must therefore be called herdsmen and not necessarily tied to the aprons of Muslims or Fulanis.


Finally, we charge the Federal Government to flood Southern Kaduna with security personnel. We welcome the Senate’s decision to probe the Southern Kaduna crisis. We call on Muslims in Southern Kaduna to remain calm and law abiding, to refrain from issuing inflammatory statements and to cooperate with security agents posted to the area. We appeal to CAN and the Catholic archdiocese of Kafanchan to douse tension among Christians in Southern Kaduna.


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

Friday, December 30, 2016

NEW YEAR MESSAGE: KILL CORRUPTION, COME TOGETHER



30th December, 2016
NEW YEAR MESSAGE:
KILL CORRUPTION, COME TOGETHER


Like their counterparts all over the world, Nigerians will usher in the new year on Sunday 1st January, 2017. Already, Nigerians from all walks of life, businessmen, politicians, academicians, civil servants, farmers, artisans, etc are imagining what to expect and what should be in place come 2017.        


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) does not prophesy. We are advocates of non-violence, transparency, accountability and good governance. MURIC wants Nigerians to kill corruption in 2017. We must intensify and prioritise the war against corruption if we as a people really want to take our destiny in our own hands. It is the only way to stop the sufferings of Nigerians. Secondly, Nigerians must come together and speak with one voice regardless of their political, religious or ethnic backgrounds.


This country has been robbed silly. Diezani Alison Madueke vanished with $20 billion. Patrick Akpolobemi helped himself to $12 billion from NIMASA coffers. Sambo Dasuki messed up $2.1 billion arms fund. N40 billion developed wings and flew into thin air under former customs boss Abdullahi Dikko. The list is endless.  



Instead of condemning these thieves, some Nigerians started accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of being motivated by vendetta. Some claimed he was only targeting opposition members. Strangely enough, they still remained recalcitrant even after members of the ruling party including a personal friend of the president and a chieftain of the ruling party were arrested for corruption and dealt with.


We can imagine what the huge amounts stolen by these shameless kleptomaniacs could have done for the nation. How much do we really need to equip our health facilities with the most sophisticated machines in order to stop unnecessary medical trips abroad? How much do we need to turn the dilapidated death traps which we call roads to macadam standard? Why can’t a Nigerian university be one of the best 10 in the world? Why couldn’t we beat Ghana to celebrate 10 years of uninterrupted power supply?


But we are on the right plane with Buhari as our pilot. His doggedness is yielding positive results. Change is already surfacing. Nobody ever asked those thieves any question before Buhari came on board. But now some of them are in jail. Corrupt judges are not being spared. Some of them have started vomiting what they swallowed.


Jafaru Isa who was accused of stealing N170 million returned N70m just one week ago. He had earlier returned N100 million before he was released from custody. That means he has returned the whole loot. Abdullahi Dikko paid back N1 billion before bail was allowed. Only those who are blinded by partisanship or ethnic jingoism will refuse to accept this as the real change.


No Nigerian government had ever achieved this feat in the past. The Federal Government (FG) also reported the recovery of huge amounts of cash:  N78,325,354,631.82, $185,119,584.61, £3,508,355.46 and €11, 250 between May 29, 2015 and May 25, 2016. Also released were recoveries under interim forfeiture, which were a combination of cash and assets, during the same period: N126,563,481,095.43, $9,090,243,920.15, £2,484,447.55 and €303,399.17.


Anticipated repatriation from foreign countries totaled: $321,316,726.1, £6,900,000 and €11,826.11. The non-cash recoveries are – farmlands, plots of land, uncompleted buildings, completed buildings, vehicles and maritime vessels. This feat is what Nigerians should be celebrating instead of holding parties in a state capital to celebrate the release of a thief from a London prison. Corruption has indeed robbed some Nigerians of their norms and values.


We must stop sending divisive signals. Muslims are among these shameless thieves. Christians are among them. We have Northerners there just as there are Southerners. So why are we deceiving ourselves? A thief is a thief whether he is a Muslim or a Christian. A thief is a thief whether he is a Yorubaman or Kanuri. Corruption is faith-blind. Poverty knows no tribe. We are all victims of the thieves’ greed and avarice. So why should we allow them to use religion or tribe to blindfold us?


MURIC looks towards a 2017 in which Nigerians appreciate honesty and integrity. We must place accountability above licenciousness in the coming year. Muslims and Christians must pull down the barrier of hatred. They must appreciate one another.


For instance, some Muslims condemn fellow Muslims who wish Christians Merry Christmas. That is one of the signs of extremism. Muslims should ignore such people among them. We should boldly and sincerely wish Christians Merry Christmas. MURIC has been doing this since its establishment in 1994 and we will continue to do so. We will not allow any distraction in our intellectual jihad.  It is the path of love, the path of peace. We must not listen to extremist Muslims among us who feed fat on spreading hatred. Christians must also wish Muslims Barka de Salah as usual.


Those who discourage such goodwill messages are hallucinating agents of Shaytan. They are not ready to face reality. Christmas and Salah will always come whether anybody likes it or not. Why don’t they reject the holidays that are declared for such festivals if indeed they are serious? Why don’t they go to work on that day if anyone will open the office doors for them? Or why don’t they go to the school on such holidays if teachers will come to teach them? Those festivals are realities which can only be ignored by dreamers and the fact that holidays have been officially declared for them proves that they are real and an integral part of us as a people.



Finally, MURIC urges Nigerians to kill corruption. We urge Nigerians to come together. Let us fling open all doors to welcome fellow citizens of other faiths. Open all the windows to allow in free air from all faiths and ethnicities. Nigerians must join hands to claim their rightful destiny. We must defeat the political and ethnic shenanigans with their divide et impera gimmicks.


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