17th September, 2018
FUPR VC MANIFESTING RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY
Muslims in the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurum, Delta State, are being denied their Allah-given fundamental human rights. This is as a result of the insistence of the institution’s Vice Chancellor to disallow Muslims from observing Jum’ah prayer on Fridays. The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) raised this alarm on Monday in a press release signed by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola. The Islamic human rights organization complained that the Vice Chancellor of FUPR, Effurum, has refused to allow Muslim students and staff to attend the Friday prayer. Efforts to persuade him via communications and dialogue have not yielded any tangible result. The first semester examination time table was not Jum’ah-compliant as examinations were fixed without any consideration for the Jum’ah period. “We are miffed that the VC claims that he cannot allow Muslims to go to mosque on Friday ‘because Nigeria is a secular country’. This is a most preposterous claim. It is outrageous. It is incredible. We don’t expect ignorance at the apex of a citadel of learning. Nigeria is not a secular country. It is a multi-religious country. Secular countries do not recognize religion but Nigeria does. Or can the VC show us the word ‘secular’ in the Nigerian constitution? “No Vice Chancellor has the right to hide under a phony secular society to stop Muslims from observing Jum’ah prayer. By the way, the VC does not allow Muslims to go to the mosque, but won’t he go to church on Sunday? Won’t the Christian staff and students also go to church on Sunday? What right has the VC to stop the Muslims from attending Jum’ah service on Friday when he and the Christian staff and students go to church on Sunday? Isn’t what is good for the goose also good for the gander? How can secularism mean freedom for Christians to worship on Sunday but oppression and persecution for Muslims on Friday?Are men and women of good conscience listening? “Here lies the hypocrisy behind the usual claim of secularism in Nigeria. Christian fanatics use it as an excuse to cheat Muslims. They get all they want but they don’t want their neighbours to have access to the same thing. It is the height of injustice and anyone who pursues an unjust policy is not looking for peace. Justice is the soul of peace. Nobody can deny one and enjoy the other. Justice and peace are inseparable.
“It beats our imagination that the Vice Chancellor of a federal university will challenge Muslims to present any official document from the federal government that makes provision for Jum’ah services in federal establishments. Universities are expected to be centers of excellence, we are therefore shocked that gymnastic religiousity can manifest at such level of intellectualism.
“We are constrained to ask, ‘Is this VC aware of the provision for freedom of religion in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? If he is not aware, has he cared to consult his university’s legal department? Is the VC aware of the existence of Muslims in this country? If so, has it not occurred to him that by accepting the post of VC, many of the staff and students under him will be Muslims? Does he want to remain VC of Christian staff and students only to the detriment of the adherents of other faiths? Has he travelled outside Delta State to observe what obtains in other places or is he an armchair vice chancellor?
“The Vice Chancellor of FUPR has failed to realize that this is a federal institution. Even if it is a state university, are we supposed to persecute any religious group in an academic environment? Academicians are expected to know better, to pursue objectivity, to lead by example and to shun all sentimentalities.
“All that should be of interest to a Vice Chancellor is whether or not his staff are performing their official duties and whether his students are learning. He should create an atmosphere conducive to the pursuit of knowledge. No more no less. But things will start going wrong when the head of an institution begins targeting a religious group for oppression”.
Akintola expressed serious concern for the welfare of Muslims under the VC of FUPR. “How can the Federal Government entrust the lives of Muslim staff and students to a biased Christian VC? We have every reason to doubt that Muslims can be safe under this man. We have every reason to doubt that Muslims will receive fair treatment under him.
“MURIC will continue to expose religious bigots in public and private institutions and enterprises who deprive Muslims of their Allah-given fundamental human rights. We will not fold our arms while some religious fundamentalists deny us what Almighty Allah has given us free, more so since such rights are already guaranteed in the constitution of our country.
“There can be no excuse for disallowing Muslims from attending the Jum’ah prayer every Friday since Christians are not faced with such a challenge on Sundays. We will take every necessary lawful measures to resist this oppression of Nigerian Muslims by Christian extremists”.
As usual, MURIC seized the opportunity to connect the incident to the need to declare Friday work-free. Akintola said, “This constant persecution of Muslims on Fridays underscores the need for the Nigerian authorities to pay attention to the Friday question once again. Friday must be declared work-free like Sunday and the earlier the better. The oppression of Muslims by Christian bosses on Friday will come to a halt once Friday becomes free.
“It is interesting to note that our organization has been investigating this Friday question since 1994. Experience has shown over the years that it is only Christian fanatics who disallow Muslims from attending the Friday prayer. Some Christians are very understanding and accommodating. There is no place in the world where people do not know that Muslims observe their special Jum’ah service on Fridays while Christians observe their own on Sundays.
“It is high time these fanatics were made to realize that Muslims are not a minority in this country. We will not allow the oppression of Muslims in any part of the country to go unchallenged. This is likely to cause friction from time to time. Those who cherish peaceful coexistence should therefore leave Muslims alone.
“We will cry out if you oppress Muslims no matter how highly placed you may be and nobody knows the extent of the heat that will be generated or where it can lead to. Oppressors of Muslims should therefore take notice. Even without being violent, even while we use lawful means only, MURIC will give you no peace. It is a digital world so there will be no place for you to hide under the sun. Yet this will only happen if you deny Muslims their rights. Those who oppress Muslims should therefore be seen as enemies of peace.
“However, we assure Nigerians that we are most willing to embrace a robust relationship with everyone. We believe that religion should bring people together no matter the differences in the mode of worship. It should be humanity first. We are therefore prepared to coexist peacefully with our neighbours. The only proviso is that they should respect our right to freedom of worship. We should all live and let live. Worship and let me worship.
“As we round up, we call on the Vice Chancellor of FUPR, Effurum, to allow peace to reign on his campus. Let the Muslims go. Stop all forms of religious persecution. Allow the Muslims to observe Jum’ah service. We advise him to run an inclusive administration in the interest of peace and harmony. Other heads of public and private institutions in the country are advised to take a cue from this. Let us make our country a land of religious harmony as we all can never belong to the same faith”.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)