National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN),
Lagos State. 28th February, 2018
REVOCATION OF SPACE ALLOCATED TO COLLEGE MOSQUE
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is an Islamic human rights organization. MURIC is a pacific organization, peace-loving, law-abiding and dialogue-prone. We detest violence and condemn terrorism. Our avowed motto is ‘Dialogue, Not Violence’.
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 seeking freedom of worship for all, emancipation for the oppressed, justice for the persecuted, food for the hungry, healing for the sick, clothing apparels for the naked and shelter for the homeless.
It has come to our notice that your esteemed College has revoked the approval given to the Muslim Community of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN) to build a mosque. Instead, members of the Community have been told to worship in other mosques in the neighbourhood. The rumour of an impending demolition is also rife.
Documents seen by the Investigating Officer of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) confirm that the Muslim community of the College had been using a makeshift mosque for about ten years until 28th October, 2015 when they applied for a permanent space to build a befitting structure. In a letter dated 20th January, 2016, NPMCN management approved a permanent piece of land measuring 20 meters x 20 meters “along the road to the staff quarters”. The Muslim community responded with a letter of appreciation dated 1st December, 2016.
But in a sudden twist, Management in its letter of 12th June 2016, ordered the Muslim community to stop the construction because “it was discovered that there is no provision for permanent structure for mosque or church in the College master plan.” The Muslim community made a passionate appeal to the authorities in its letter of 18th July, 2017 and the College rescinded its decision in another letter dated 24th August, 2017.
Yet again on 12th December 2017 another letter was issued by Management asking the Muslims to stop work on the site. The College cited the decision of the Governing Council for this final move.
MURIC is constrained to fault the decision to revoke the allocation of mosque space to the Muslim Community of NPMCN because it seeks to deprive both staff and students, Christians and Muslims of the great institution of their right to worship. This is contrary to the provisions of Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guarantees freedom of worship. Any action or inaction of any authority which curtails this freedom either directly or indirectly is null, void and of no consequence whatsoever.
Please note that we are not limiting our concern for the provision of space to Muslim worshippers alone. Christians also deserve a space for a church. Whether they utilize it or not, or whether they make a demand for it or not, is another thing. But that should not deprive the Muslims who need a permanent place of worship (because they pray five times daily) of their Allah-given fundamental human rights.
We contend that since man is body, soul and spirit, the College owes it a duty to add spaces for a church and a mosque to its master plan. This is the general practice in Nigerian tertiary institutions. It must be pointed out that medical doctors who are able to meet their spiritual needs turn out to be better ambassadors of the medical profession in their day-to-day relationship with patients.
It is not too late, however. We appeal to the authorities to take the case back to the governing council. Provision should be made for church space and the Christian community reserves the right to use it as it deems fit. They also have the right to reject it if they don’t need it. But that should not affect the Muslim space. The space allocated to the Muslims must not be taken from them. Neither should anyone contemplate demolishing the mosque at its present level of construction. That alone will send out a dangerous signal. The College Management should not be seen as unnecessarily anti-Muslim. Tolerance is the bedrock of religious harmony and peaceful co-existence.
We suggest that the governing council and management should allow the leaders of the Muslim Community to air their views. This may bring about better understanding regarding the raison d’etre for a mosque or a permanent structure. The College authorities cannot, in good conscience, go ahead to demolish the mosque after they had given approval twice and work had begun.
Muslims by the nature of their worship need mosques in their work places and educational institutions. Authorities who respect human feelings and who have no intention of encroaching on Allah-given fundamental human rights give good consideration to the need for mosques and churches. In particular, those who seek peaceful coexistence will not hesitate to allow either Muslims or Christians to worship.
In the final analysis, we know that Christians in the College may not make any demand due to the nature of their worship but Muslims must pray five times daily and suggesting that Muslims should go outside the campus to do that is like forbidding them from worshipping at all. Neither should the authorities judge one group with the standard of another. Each must be given its own space and the Muslim mosque which is already on ground should not be demolished.
Please accept the assurance of our highest esteem and openness to dialogue at all times. Our major concern is for peace to reign in Nigeria.
Professor Ishaq Akintola, Alhaj Abdul Yakeen Williams
Director General Secretary