MOTTO: DIALOGUE, NOT VIOLENCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Telephone :08033464974, 08182119714  E-mail: muslimrights@gmail.com

Website: www.muricnigeria.com   Blog: muslimrightsmuric.blogspot.com

Twitter : @muslimrights

 

From:      The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),

No. 5, Oba Ayoka Street,

Off Iba Junction,

LASU-Isheri Road,

Iba, Lagos State

 

Date: 2nd June, 2021

To:

The Constitution Review Panel,

National Assembly,

Abuja.

 

MEMORANDUM OF THE MUSLIM RIGHTS CONCERN (MURIC)

TO THE CONSTITUTION REVIEW PANEL

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is a human rights organization which promotes Allah-given and fundamental human rights of Muslims in particular and that of all Nigerians in general.

 

MURIC is a pacific organization. We are peace-loving, law-abiding and dialogue-prone. We detest violence and this is why our motto is: ‘Dialogue, Not Violence’. We believe that all human rights were first guaranteed by the Supreme Creator, Allah, before homo sapiens sought to incorporate them in man-made laws. Any infringement on the right of man is therefore a sin before Almighty Allah and a violation of the laws made by men.

 

Our vision of Nigeria is that of a nation where people live together in peace and harmony, a nation in which no one is oppressed, where every citizen enjoys Allah-given fundamental human rights regardless of class, creed, or ethnicity. We are middle-roaders and socio-intellectual jihadists fighting corruption and extravagance, seeking freedom of worship for all, emancipation for the oppressed, justice for the persecuted, jobs for the jobless, food for the hungry, healing for the sick, clothing apparels for the naked and shelter for the homeless. All these are part of principles of Islamic liberation theology.

2.0.0

PERSECUTION OF MUSLIMS IN NIGERIA:

 

2.1.0

INTRODUCTION

Although the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria affirms freedom of religion in principle, Nigerian Muslims are confronted on a daily basis with religious discrimination, persecution and denial of their Allah-given and fundamental human rights.

 

2.2.0

STATEMENT OF FACTS:

 

2.2.1.

HARRASSMENT OF MUSLIMS :

We state by way of example how the fundamental rights of Muslims are encroached upon particularly in the South West of the country. Immigration officials, workers of electoral bodies, school authorities, employers of labour, etc, engage in regular stereotyping of Muslims. In the process, the latter are denied possession of international travel documents, driving licence, identity cards, etc. They are also disenfranchised. Female Muslim students who wear hijab are locked out of schools. Employers and senior colleagues intimidate female Muslim employees for the same reason.

 

2.3.0

ISSUES FROM THE STATEMENTS OF FACTS:

As a result of this obnoxious and illegal practice, thousands of Muslims have been scared away from applying for travelling documents. By discriminating against Muslims in the Immigration department, the former are robbed of immense opportunities in the areas of education, economic empowerment, international exposure, etc. Also, by ordering Muslims to jettison their religious identities before their pictures can be captured and by rejecting Muslim names in their records, some government officials succeed in falsifying Nigeria’s demographic data in favour of Christianity.

 

2.4.0

ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES:

There is no law in Nigeria which supports the profiling of Muslims by government officials. Every Nigerian citizen has a right to possess an international passport, a driving licence, identity card, voter’s card, etc and nothing should be done to stop any law-abiding citizen from obtaining those documents. There is also no existing legal instrument which stipulates that Muslims should be robbed of their religious identity before they can be given those documents. In addition, government officials have no legal backing for usurping the fundamental rights of Muslims.

 

Their falsification of Nigeria’s demographic data in favour of Christianity is also a criminal act capable of igniting religious uprising. Muslims who were forced to remove their caps or hijab have been exposed to unimaginable embarrassment, excruciating psychological trauma and outright deprivation each time they attempt to use the same documents in banks and other public places. The discrimination against Muslims is an open invitation to chaos, a launching pad for the breakdown of law and order and a potent recruitment sergeant for religious terrorism.

 

Most importantly, the refusal of Christian and public school authorities to allow female Muslim students to use hijab amounts to forcing them to use Christian mode of school uniform. It must be noted that the current school uniform being used in the whole of Southern Nigeria was designed by the Christian colonial masters. Essentially, therefore, these uniforms are Christian uniforms which should not be forced on Muslim students. Forcing Muslim students to use them constitutes identity stealing, articulated religious intolerance and encroachment on Allah-given fundamental human rights of Muslim students on the part of school authorities.

 

2.5.0

RELIEF/PRAYER BEING SOUGHT

 

2.5.1.

The Nigerian Constitution should criminalise the denial of vital documents like international passports, driving licence, national identity cards, etc to law-abiding citizens on account of religious appearance or identity.

 

2.5.2

All government agencies in charge of issuance of vital documents to citizens should issue circulars to all their offices nationwide warning their officials to stop stigmatizing Muslims.

 

2.5.3

Stigmatisation of hijab-wearing female Muslim students should be declared illegal and school authorities who subject female Muslim students to such religious stereotyping should be sanctioned according to the laws of the land.

 

3.0.0

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

 

3.1.0

INTRODUCTION

Nigerians enjoy a total of eight (8) public holidays in a year. These are Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Id al-Kabir, Id al-Fitr and Maulud an-Nabiyy.

 

3.2.0

STATEMENTS OF FACTS

Five (5) of the eight holidays belong to Christians (Christmas Day, Boxing Day, 1st January, i.e, New Year Day, Good Friday and Easter Monday). Only three (3) holidays belong to Muslims, viz, Id al-Kabir, Id al-Fitr and Maulud an-Nabiyy.

3.3.0

ISSUES FROM THE STATEMENTS OF FACTS:

There is open inequality in the issue of holidays in Nigeria particularly if there is evidence that Muslims who have less need more (and they do). Nigerian Muslims have been clamouring for the declaration of 1st Muharram of the Hijrah calendar (i.e. the first day of the Islamic year) to be declared as a public holiday for decades. Government has not deemed it fit to listen. The Muslims therefore have a feeling of rejection, marginalization, denial of the dividends of democracy and lack of sense of belonging.

3.4.0

ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES

Government is the father of all. Therefore, government has a duty, in loco parentis, to treat all groups equally. A government that favours one religious group above the other cannot expect social harmony. Justice is the Soul of Peace. No one can deny one and still enjoy the other in the same way that none can eat his cake and still have it. In the interest of peace, the ongoing review of the constitution must address this imbalance.

3.5.0

RELIEFS/PRAYERS SOUGHT

1st Muharram of the Hijrah calendar should be declared a public holiday to bring the total number of public holidays enjoyed by Muslims to four (4) while the Christians continue to enjoy a higher number of five (5) public holidays.

 

4.0.0

WEEKENDS IN NIGERIA

 

4.1.0

INTRODUCTION

Nigeria has a two-day weekend, viz, Saturday and Sunday.

 

4.2.0

STATEMENTS OF FACTS

Saturday was a half day during the colonial era and Sunday was the only full day at the weekend. However, Saturday was made a full day during the regime of General Yakubu Gowon (1966 – 73), a Christian military ruler. It is also pertinent to say that Sunday is the Christian day of worship generally while Saturday is the day recognized as the day of worship by the Seventh Day Adventists, a Christian denomination.

 

4.3.0

ISSUES ARISING FROM STATEMENTS OF THE FACTS

It is very clear, therefore, that the two weekend days recognized in Nigeria belong to Christians while Muslims have none since Friday, the Muslim day of worship, remains a working day. The British colonialists, being Christians, designed the weekend days to suit their religion at the expense of Islam.

 

4.4.0

ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES

Something must be done urgently to address the gross imbalance in the Nigerian weekend affair. We cannot forget our history because today was born from the wombs of yesterday. Islam has been in Nigeria since the 11th century and the British met Islam on ground when they arrived in the 19th century (800 years later). Thursday and Friday were observed as weekend days in Islamic schools before the advent of the British. It is noteworthy that traditional Islamic schools North and South of Nigeria still maintain these two days as their weekend to date. If the British did not deem it fit to observe the rules of natural justice when they picked the days of Nigeria’s weekend, the need for building a just society in order to foster peace compels a review of the status quo.

 

4.5.0

RELIEF/PRAYER SOUGHT

 

4.5.1

The Muslims’ Friday should be declared free to assume parity with the Christians’ Sunday

 

4.5.2

In the alternative and to avoid the tortuous technicalities involved in 4.5.1 above, Friday should be made a half day (like Saturday in colonial days) in which case all workers will close by 12 noon on Fridays throughout the Federation. This will give the Christians two (2) days (Saturday and Sunday) to worship while Muslims have at least half a day.

 

5.0.0

THE NIGERIAN MARRIAGE ACT 1990

 

5.1.0

INTRODUCTION

Islamic clerics conduct marriages for Muslims while Christian marriages are conducted by Christian clerics.

 

5.2.0

STATEMENTS OF FACTS

Christian marriages contracted inside churches or registries are held sacrosanct everywhere in Nigeria whereas Muslim marriages (nikah) are not recognized for any official purpose.

 

5.3.0

ISSUES FROM STATEMENTS OF THE FACT

It is paradoxical for one marriage conducted by a Nigerian religious group to be acceptable while the other is not. It breeds contempt, ill-feeling and bad blood. These are inconsistent with the yearnings and aspirations of a people struggling to peacefully coexist. It smirks more of the South African apartheid scenario.

 

5.4.0

ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES

Peace resides where justice has a foundation.

 

5.5.0

RELIEF/PRAYER SOUGHT

Marriages conducted in accordance with the Islamic law should be recognized in all official circles where Christian marriages are also recognized.

 

6.0.0

UNIFORMED GROUPS

 

6.1.0

INTRODUCTION

Uniformed groups in Nigeria include the security agencies (like the army and the police), para-military groups, traffic control agencies, uniformed voluntary groups, primary and secondary schools, nurses, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), etc. All these groups already have approved uniforms dating back to the colonial era. However, some of these uniforms constitute breaches to Islamic dress code and offend the sensitivity of Muslims. Muslims are compelled to wear the uniforms like others regardless of their inner feeling of resentment since they are also integral parts of these agencies and groups,

 

6.2.0

STATEMENT OF FACTS

While it is an open secret that Muslim women, as a rule, use hijab as part of their dress, none of the uniforms used by the Nigerian security agencies and the groups mentioned above allow the use of hijab.

 

6.3.0

ISSUES ARISING FROM STATEMENTS OF FACTS

Female policemen, soldiers, immigrations, customs, etc, who are Muslims are compelled to use uniforms which assault their spiritual psyche on a daily basis. Female Muslim youth corpers, for example, who do not even belong to the security apparatus, suffer annually from this trauma.

 

6.4.0

ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES

Compulsion to use uniforms which are displeasing to the wearer is capable of killing incentive, causing disaffection and engendering inefficiency. School uniforms which offend the Islamic dress code are capable of spreading immorality among the youth. Britain, Canada and America are good examples of non-Muslim environments where Muslim policewomen and Muslim pupils wear uniform-fitting hijab along with their uniforms.

 

This request for the use of hijab in the uniformed agencies has its economic, political and security implications. Economically, thousands of young, agile, willing, patriotic and qualified female Muslims are deprived of employment opportunities. As mentioned above, this impoverishes Muslims generally and impacts negatively on Muslim children in particular. As a result, a most vulnerable portion of the Nigerian population is sentenced to a life of abject penury.

As for the political implication, a liberal policy which allows female Muslim officers to wear hijab will inject a huge dose of confidence in the Muslim population and give them greater sense of belonging.

Concerning security, the employment of women in hijab will enhance intelligence gathering, strengthen investigative power and widen the horizon of information supply. Criminologists agree that women in communities are sine qua non to the provision of information to the police at grassroot level. This is why women are known to have contributed immensely to community policing in places like Britain and Ireland because of their naturally keen interest in their communities. Also, women in Muslim communities in Nigeria will find it more convenient to relate and confide in Muslim police women who use hijab. The phenomenon of female suicide bombers can be more easily and effectively curtailed by female Muslim soldiers in hijab.

Nigeria can therefore benefit a lot from employing hijab-wearing women in our security agencies if the enabling clauses are added to the Constitution.

We therefore call for the immediate review of the dress code policy in the Nigerian Army, the police and paramilitary forces in line with global best practices to enable hijab-wearing female Muslims who wish to join those uniformed bodies to do so.

6.5.0

RELIEF/PRAYER SOUGHT

Female Muslims in uniform (soldiers, policewomen, traffic wardens, nurses, etc) should be allowed to use hijabs designed to fit their uniforms. Enabling clauses should be added to the Nigerian Constitution to make this possible.

 

7.0.0

CIVIL SHARIAH IN THE SOUTH WEST

 

7.1.0

INTRODUCTION:

Whereas the Constitution allows the application of Shariah among Muslims who desire it (Section 260 and 261) and the same Constitution allows states to create Shariah courts (Section 275), Muslims in the South West who constitute the majority have been denied this opportunity. We assert that this denial constitutes a flagrant violation of Allah-given fundamental human rights of Muslims in the region.

 

7.2.0

STATEMENTS OF FACT:

History also proves that Shariah had been in operation in many parts of the South West ever before the advent of the British Christian colonialists. Shariah was practiced in Ede under Oba Abibu Olagunju (Habeeb, a Muslim name) and the Ede Shariah Court operated up till 1913 at Agbeni area of the town. It was moved to Agbongbon area in 1914. Shariah was applied in Iwo under Oba Momodu Lamuye (Muhammad Lamuye) who died in 1906. Even the seventh Akirun of Ikirun, Oba Aliyu Oyewole (died 1912), instituted Shariah in Ikirun in 1910.

The imposition of Christian common law by the British after the ban on Shariah was a gross infringement on the fundamental rights of Muslims in the region. The ban should have been reviewed immediately after independence and the failure to do this has subjugated Muslims in the region to the use of Christian common law.

7.3.0

ISSUES ARISING FROM STATEMENTS OF FACTS:

The tragedy of the Nigerian system is that Muslims North and South have been subjected to the application of this same Christian law since the advent of the British enforcers. The sections of the current Constitution which stipulate the use of Shariah at both federal and state levels should therefore be RETAINED if Nigeria’s democracy is not exclusively for Christians.

Presently, Muslims in the South West are forced to conduct their family lives in Christian fashion. Muslim marriages are not recognised. Inheritance matters are handled in manners alien to Islamic law.

7.4.0

ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES

Our contention that common law is Christian law is based on vehement declarations of British judges, e.g. Lord Summers in the case of Bowman versus Secular Society Limited (1916 – 17) where the learned judge said, “Ours is, and has always been, a Christian State. The English family is built on Christian ideals and if the national religion is not Christian, there is none. English law may well be called Christian law.” (Bowman versus Secular Society Limited, 1916 – 17, United Kingdom Appeal Case 406).

Time and space may not permit us to cite the authoritative pronouncements of other British judges like Lord Finlay, Sir Mathew Hale, Sir William Blackstone, Lloyd Kenyon, etc, on the laws of England having their source in the Christian religion.

Nearer home, Justice Karibi Whyte affirmed thus, “The Holy Bible which appears to contain the fundamental basis of the common law claims to have been derived from the Ten Commandments God gave to Moses.” This presupposes that common law is canon law.

7.5.0

RELIEF/PRAYER SOUGHT

 

7.5.1

We demand the retention of Sections of the Constitution which allow the use of Shariah in Nigeria at both federal (Sections 260, 261) and state levels particularly Section 275 which grants states the power to establish Shariah courts of Appeal.

 

7.5.2

We call for the criminalization of the failure by any state chief executive to create a Shariah court where Muslims make such demand. It should be made an impeachable offence.

 

8.0.0

ADDENDUM

 

8.1.0

CHRISTIAN CANON LAW

 

8.2.0

OUR POSITION ON CHRISTIAN CANON LAW

Christians in Bauchi State have demanded Christian law. While we are aware that the present common law (see 7.4.0 above) which is being applied throughout the country is Christian law, our disposition to this demand is still positive. We support any new clauses which Nigerian Christians may want to add to the Constitution with the proviso that such additions must be from the Bible and that no single Nigerian Muslim will be affected by such additional clauses or by the establishment of Christian or ecclesiastical courts.

 

9.0.0

APPRECIATION

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) expresses deep gratitude to the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, members of the Constitution Review Panel as well as the entire members of the National Assembly for the opportunity to present this memorandum.

 

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

 

PROFESSOR ISHAQ AKINTOLA            ALHAJI YAKEEN WILLIAMS

DIRECTOR                                       GENERAL SECRETARY

 

 

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