By Olawale Ajimotokan
The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has accused the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) of morbid hatred for Islam and Muslims and the use of propaganda and mischief especially over the raging Hijab crisis in some mission schools in Ilorin, Kwara State and the recent appointment of 20 Justices of the Court of Appeal.
The NSCIA’s position was contained in a statement issued yesterday by its Acting Director of Administration, Prof. Salisu Shehu and Deputy Secretary General, Haruna Zuberu Usman-Ugwu.
The Islamic affairs body also reiterated its earlier call on the federal government to urgently conduct a full-scale religious census of the entire workforce in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to reveal the state of origin and religious affiliation of the country’s workforce.
It accused CAN of always being economical with the truth as part of the sinister strategy of heating up the polity anytime a Muslim is at the helm of the nation’s affairs.
NSCIA noted that although religion preaches love, honesty, sincerity, tolerance, good neighbourliness and kindness, among other virtues, CAN had succeeded in creating a Nigerian version of Christianity, which is anchored on morbid hatred, undisguised dishonesty, caustic insincerity, religious intolerance, perennial hostility and outright wickedness.
NSCIA insisted that the use of Hijab by Kwara Muslim students is guaranteed under Section 38, Subsections 1and 3 and sub-section 4 of the Nigerian Constitution (as amended in 2011) that stipulate that no religious community or denomination shall be prevented from providing religious instruction for pupils of that community or denomination in any place of education maintained wholly by that community or denomination.
According to NSCIA, the Mission schools in question in Ilorin are public schools that are financed and administered by the Kwara State Government.
It also added that the matter had been settled in suit CA/IL/49/2009 where the appellate court in Ilorin ruled unequivocally that the use of hijab by female Muslims qualified as a fundamental right under Section 38 of the Constitution and also, in AbdulKareem vs Lagos State Government (2016) 15 NWLR (Pt 1535) 177, where the Court of Appeal reaffirmed its decision in Appeal No CA/IL/49/2009 and upheld the unalloyed right of a female Muslim to wear hijab to school.
It condemned CAN for being blinded by what it called Islamophobia to promote anarchy in the land by denying willing Muslim girls the right to hijab in state-funded schools in Ilorin and for repaying the tolerance of the Muslim hosts with intolerance.
“For the purpose of hindsight, Muslims have over the years been bearing their persecution and marginalisation in Nigeria with religious patience and dignified forbearance without the NSCIA heating up the polity, occupying public spaces or inciting confrontation with constituted authorities,” NSCIA said.
It also berated CAN for its uproar over the shortlisting of 20 Justices-designate by the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).
It accused CAN of deliberate distortion that 13 of the 20 recently shortlisted Justices were from the North and were Muslims regardless of the clarification by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, that the procedure of the appointment followed “due and usual process” and that the recommendation “was done without any preference for tribe, creed or association”.
NSCIA accused CAN of mischief, ethnic jingoism and religious bigotry and resort to blackmail.
It stated that in venting their spleen against the development, CAN and its apologists ignored the fact that Muslims were a minority in the religious composition of the Court of Appeal.
“The unassailable truth is that Justices of the Court of Appeal (JCAs) are 70 but the North with 19 states has 34 while the South with 17 states has 36. The South thus has more JCAs than the North.
The religious body argued that all the 36 JCAs from the South were all Christians except Justice Habeeb Adewale Abiru of Lagos state and Justice Mistura Bolaji-Yusuf of Oyo State.
“But in the three geo-political zones of the North where Muslims are predominant, there are 34 JCAs out of which 15 are Christians. In other words, the North East has four Muslim JCAs and seven Christians, the North Central has six Muslim JCAs and seven Christians while the North West has nine Muslim JCAs and one Christian JCA. Of the 36 from the South, only two are Muslims,” NSCIA said.
It further restated that the three geopolitical zones of the South combined have only two Muslim JCAs while the three geopolitical zones of the North have 15 Christian JCAs.
It recalled that during the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo between 2003 and 2007, there was not a single Muslim minister from the entire South-west, South-south, South-east and North-central, except one Muslim from Nasarawa State, while under President Godluck Jonathan watch between 2010 and 2013, no single Muslim minister was appointed from the three geopolitical zones of the south, while also the National Conference of 2014 convened by the Jonathan administration was lopsidedly constituted that Muslims were just about one-third of the entire delegates.
NSCIA decried the use of the cross which is the icon of Christianity as a symbol of hospitals across Nigeria and the federal government statutorily created the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRSC), even though the crescent is the symbol of Islam·
It also stated that the federal government recognised and legitimised the Christian worship days of Saturday and Sunday as official work-free days in Nigeria while the Central Bank of Nigeria pays public funds running into hundreds of millions of Naira to CAN every year under one guise or the other.
“As far as those who run the affairs of CAN are concerned, Nigeria may as well descend into war since in their demonic calculations, they will dominate Muslims with the support of their foreign friends and turn Muslim lands to a vast wasteland as obtainable in some Muslim-majority countries. They fail to realise that the war they are intent on dragging Nigeria into ultimately does not decide who is right but who is left and that no soldier in the real sense ever survives a war as something dies in him while fighting.
NSCIA warned Muslims in Nigeria particularly in the South to be circumspect and not to be dragged into the ethnic debate of some phantom states to be created out of Nigeria by some irredentist agitators.
It said that the script is a design to further repress Islam and oppress Muslims in the South and turn them into second- class citizens in their own fatherland.
It stated that its call for a headcount in the MDAs would reveal statistics that would settle the issue of marginalisation in the Nigerian workforce, saying Muslims could no longer tolerate the psychological terrorism of those whose stock-in-trade was campaign of calumny and bigoted propaganda anytime a Muslim happens to be at the helm of affairs in Nigeria.