Friday, 23rd December, 2023
MURIC ABUJA TO OYO DSS: IS MUSLIM RIGHTS ACTIVISM A CRIME?
It came to our knowledge that men of the Department of State Security Services (DSS), Ibadan, Oyo State, invited the director of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Professor Ishaq Akintola, to come from Lagos to Ibadan for questioning simply because he spoke against a school principal who forced Muslim students to sing Christmas carol and he also criticized the state governor for doing nothing on the several cases of repression of Muslim students in the state.
While we acknowledge the vital role DSS is playing in maintaining security, we are of the opinion that this invitation is full of risks. People are being kidnapped on Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the city of Ibadan itself is under siege from political thugs, hooligans and hoodlums most of whom enjoy the patronage of the state government whose governor MURIC criticized.
It therefore becomes double risk for our director to honour the invitation from such a distance without proper investigation. Our director has no bodyguards. What if he is attacked by political thugs at Ibadan toll gate? Some people are not comfortable with the role played by MURIC during elections and they may want him out of circulation, at least for the period of the elections only to be released after the election is over?
What if such people arrange for him to be ambushed and kidnapped. Will DSS Ibadan office admit that they were the ones who invited him to Ibadan?
The fact that the invitation came through a phone call makes it more risky because we are still not sure if indeed it was the DSS Ibadan office that called him in the first place. Kidnappers play many tricks these days. It would have been better if the DSS had brought a written invitation.
The Osun State chapter of MURIC demanded for a written invitation in a press statement issued a few days ago but DSS Oyo State has ignored their request. It makes us doubt the origin of that invitation.
We are of the opinion that the DSS Oyo state is under the guidance of ethical behaviour as laid down in its rules of engagement and it should behave as such without any bias or intimidation from any quarters whatsoever the situation may be. Our director, Professor. Ishaq Akintola has no relationship with either Boko Haram or ISWAP. Rather, he founded a peaceful Islamic human rights organization whose motto is ‘Dialogue, No Violence’ and the group has remained loyal to its avowed motto to date.
That is why Professor Ishaq Akintola and his Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has never been associated with any crime, act of violence or immorality up till today. We are therefore surprised that the DSS of Oyo State has invited this peace-loving Muslim rights activist simply because he questioned the forceful involvement of Muslim students in singing Christmas carol. We are asking ‘Is that a Crime?’
Why then has the DSS Oyo State invited our director? Or is it because he said Muslims should vote out Governor Makinde of Oyo State for condoning the repression of Muslim students in the state’s public schools? How many pastors has the DSS Oyo State invited for their provocative statements?
The DSS is a respected security institution. Oyo State DSS should not tarnish this good image by allowing itself to become a tool of persecution in the hands of the state governor. Besides, MURIC has always appreciated the role of all the security agencies in curbing insecurity in Nigeria and we have always condemned those unpatriotic elements who kill security agents and destroy their buildings. So what is our crime now?
It is well known that Yoruba Muslims are going through a lot of persecution and marginalization. MURIC happens to have been very vocal in condemning the violation of the fundamental human rights of Yoruba Muslims not only in Oyo State, or the South West but in Nigeria as a whole. The struggle for human rights has become a task of doing the right thing for the right people in this country.
As such, Oyo State DSS ought to get the TRUTH reaching out to the reality on ground rather than taking steps capable of silencing the voice of the oppressed Muslims of Nigeria. As an institution of the federal republic of Nigeria, DSS is accountable and responsible to the entire Nigeria communities irrespective of their social, religious and political affiliation. DSS should be conscious of the rights of the Muslim Ummah as well as the rights of the Christians in Nigeria and it should not try to silence any group.
The invitation from Oyo State DSS to the Director of MURIC is seen by Nigerian Muslims as an attack on free speech among Muslims. It is being interpreted as meaning that Christians can say whatever they like but Muslims should keep quiet. DSS headquarters in Abuja has never been influenced by the current president of Nigeria to invite or arrest any of his bitter critics particularly pastors who spit out nothing but lies and incitement on a daily basis against this gentleman president.
We advise DSS Oyo State to learn from its headquarters. The invitation to Akintola is already creating tension among Nigerian Muslims. What we need most now in Nigeria is peace. DSS Oyo State does not have to obey unlawful ‘instructions’ from anybody in the state. They shouldn’t complicate the socio-economic stability in the South West.
The Christian political and business elite in the South West has been in government as Governors, Deputy-Governors and commissioners for the past two decades excluding the Muslims out of the political space in Nigeria. Balance of the skewed political structures on this point is what Professor Ishaq Akintola is asking for.
Why should a particular religion (Christian) dominate the political space in South West states living side-by-side with the Muslim communities in the country? Who structured this abnormality in the South West?
DSS Oyo State is advised to avoid violating the fundamental human rights of our director. We are very worried that Oyo DSS wants him to travel from Lagos State to Oyo State in this period of insecurity just to answer questions. Is he a security threat?
We want their public relations department to tell Nigerians why a seventy year old man and senior citizen should be made to go through such hazard.
Anyway, Muslims of Oyo State have said that they will all follow Akintola any time he is coming to the DSS office. Afterall he is fighting for them. This is something Oyo State DSS should try as much as possible to avoid. That invitation is seen as a form of harassment. It has provoked Oyo State Muslims. DSS should not try to silence Muslims.
However, we need to state that MURIC is not an enemy of the DSS. It is only criminals and unpatriotic citizens who hate, kill or work against security agents of their country. On the contrary, MURIC really appreciates the role being played by the DSS in Nigeria against criminals and enemies of our great country. We want you to continue to protect innocent citizens. We are with you and we condemn all enemies of the Nigerian security agents. We condemn those who kill policemen and burn police stations. They are just adding to Nigeria’s security problems.
We advise all security agents to always formalize their invitation to suspects who have to come from long distances. Phone calls can be doubted. It can be exploited by criminals. Security agents should also use their nearest offices to invite those they intend to question. In these days of general insecurity, it is dangerous to invite somebody from Lagos to Ibadan, from Enugu to Port Harcourt, or from Kaduna to Abuja without escort. Security agents may be held responsible if something serious happens to those invited from long distances. Nigerian Muslims cherish Akintola. DSS should not endanger his life by inviting him on phone next time.
Long Live the DSS. Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Ustaz Yunus Salahudeen
MURIC Abuja Chapter
Dr. Muhammad Ahmad Ghali
MURIC Abuja Chapter