Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, yesterday enjoined Muslims nationwide to always demand for their rights, whenever they are being denied within the ambit of the law.
He gave the charge while speaking at the fourth General Assembly of the Muslim Ummah of South-west Nigeria (MUSWEN), with the theme: ‘Muslim Unity and Contemporary Political Challenges in Nigeria,’ held at the University of Ibadan.
The Sultan, who doubles as the President General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), while speaking on the recent hijab crisis at the University of Ibadan International School, said female Muslim students had right under the constitution to use hijab.
He, however, cautioned those advocating for the use of hijab and various organisations championing the welfare of Muslims in the country to demand for their rights within the ambit of the law, stating that Muslims should always seek redress in a peaceful manner instead of open confrontations.
He said: “Muslims must be law-abiding; the moment we are attacking each other, then there will be no peace. So, we need peace. And we have been doing our own in silence. I urge all of you to be law-abiding. The issue is at the court and since it is in the court, we can’t make further statement, so that we don’t commit contempt of the court.
“Demand for your rights within the ambit of the law. I urged all of you to be patience because Almighty Allah loved the patient ones. On the issue of hijab at the university, there are some organisations that are advocating for it, let them continue advocating, but at our own level we have been doing ours silently.
“In the constitution, we have freedom of religion. If my religion allows me to wear hijab, nobody should stop me. So, our politicians and leaders must know that. All these issues have been politicised.”
Abubakar while speaking on the factors responsible for the array of social problems militating against the survival of Nigeria, identified unemployment, poverty and absence of small-scale industries in the rural areas as some of the major problems in Nigeria.
The Chairman, MUSWEN Education Committee, Prof. Muibi Opeloye, while delivering a paper entitled, ‘Muslim Unity and Contemporary Political Challenges in Nigeria,’ urged Muslims who are in the corridor of power not to mind their political differences but unite when issues of national importance are being discussed.
“Wealth should not be the criterion for eligibility for public office. Such factors such as qualities of head and heart, education, wisdom, mental and physical health should be the criteria. In recognition of the Nigerian constitutional provisions, Sharia courts should be introduced in the South Western Nigeria to replace the Sharia panels functioning in the various states of the zone,” he said.
Muslim leaders present at the event included the Executive Secretary, MUSWEN, Prof. Daud Noibi; Chairman, Board of Trustees, MUSWEN, Prince Bola Ajibola whose speech was read by Chairman, Muslim Community in Oyo State, Alhaji Kunle Sanni; former Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu; former Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) national commissioner, Prof. Lai Olurode; former Director of Academic Planning at the University of Jos, Prof. Muslih Yahya; and Alhaji Femi Abass.