28th August, 2018
INEC LAGOS SHOULD WARN ITS BAD EGGS
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has again reacted to the response given by the Lagos office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in which it claimed that no single Muslim woman was disallowed from registering for the 2019 election. According to public relations officer of INEC in Lagos, Mr. Femi Akinbiyi, the allegation was not true.
In a statement signed by the director of the organization, Professor Ishaq Akintola, MURIC said, “There has been telephone communication between INEC officials and MURIC leadership since our last statement and we had the impression that INEC understood our fears. We even sent out a message on social media appealing to Muslims that INEC was taking corrective measures. We had rested the case but today’s statement has become necessary in order to redeem our image since INEC came out to deny that some Muslim women were victimized. Nothing was said about whether or not our complaint was investigated.
“Media reports even quoted Lagos INEC as saying MURIC was lying and that no Muslim woman was asked to remove her hijab or draw it back to reveal her ears. That is not good enough. Lying is not in our character. This is a matter of honour. Those who reported these cases to us are not ghosts. We know that INEC might not have called us liars directly and that the media probably interpreted INEC’s denial that way. But the press is right because denying outrightly that no Muslim woman was victimized is tantamount to saying we lied.
“Asking the public to disregard MURIC’s statement is as good as calling us rabble-rousers. It is a provocative and belligerent stance. INEC has failed to appreciate what we did. We do not mind being called names anyway, so long as we achieve the main objective of stopping the victimization of Muslims in the ongoing continuous voters’ registration (CVR) exercise in the long run.
“The least we expect the electoral body to do is to tell Nigerians that it will investigate the report. We also expect INEC to issue a warning to its adhoc staff. Grandstanding cannot help in this case. Neither should INEC engage whistle-blowers and complainants in a media war. This will arouse negative sentiment. We simply reported cases of denial of Allah-given fundamental human right to register for the election. Corrective measures should have been taken instead of engaging us in media tete-a-tete. There are records of such positive interventions which have benefited all stakeholders.
“MURIC’s complaints are always based on credible information from Muslims out there in the field. Apart from social media platforms operated by our state branches, MURIC headquarters alone has 16 different whatshap groups, facebook and other social media platforms where members file in their reports. These reports are collated and screened by the various administrators in charge and forwarded to MURIC’s directorate for action. Our claims are easily verifiable.
“MURIC as a critical stakeholder will not attack INEC. We are aware that the electoral body parades a lot of credible and well-trained professionals and seasoned administrators and we respect these noble people. But that does not mean there are no black sheep in the system. There is a Judas in every twelve.
“Non-Governmental organizations (NGOs) often serve as an early warning system to assist government or its parastatals in knowing when things are going wrong.
No organization is perfect and that includes INEC but to turn informers and whistle-blowers into liars or enemies is not the wisest thing to do, particularly when it involves organizations with wide networks. The best INEC should do is to conduct discreet investigation and issue a general warning to its staff.
“As a responsible organization, MURIC manages information by releasing only vital ones and by timing its revelations. For example, we are aware that all is not well between INEC’s Muslim staff in Ebonyi state and its administrative secretary who has allegedly been threatening Muslim staff under him and victimizing them. Has the reported fanatical mien of this official been brought to the attention of INEC leadership at national level?
“Is it true that this official, Mr. Charles Ezema Nnanyelugo has been referring to President Muhammadu Buhari as the head of the Fulani’s animal zoo of nepotism and Islamisation agenda for Nigeria? Is it also true that this allegation against the administrative officer is already being investigated by security agencies? Can this same official be expected to carry out his duty as an electoral umpire without bias? What guarantee can INEC give us that Mr. Charles, who has demonstrated tons of prejudice against the person of President Buhari, will not compromise his oath of office in the 2019 election by favouring Buhari’s opponents?
“Now that INEC has refused to warn its erring staff in Lagos, we have no other choice than to get evidence for the electoral body. Muslims who go for registration and similar exercises are advised to find means of recording incidents of victimization. This should not be too difficult because we are in a world of information technology. This will be extended to all public offices where Muslims go for services like hospitals, ministries, parastatals and licencing offices. Enough is enough. Muslims will use civilized and non-violent methods to liberate themselves if those in charge will not do what is expected of them.
“As we round up, we assure INEC that our mission is to contribute positively to its success. We are aware of some of the challenges facing the electoral body. Our efforts at bringing certain inadequacies to the attention of INEC officials should not be misconstrued as exposing the parastatal’s weaknesses. Such complaints should be taken in good faith, investigated and necessary action taken if found to be credible. INEC is doing its best as far as we know but overzealous staffers need to be cautioned. Public confidence in INEC may be grossly eroded if the electoral body refuses to warn its bad eggs”.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)