The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), under the leadership of its President-General and Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, mni, held its 7th Expanded General Purpose Committee Meeting on Saturday, Muharram 28, 1441 (September 28, 2019) in Abuja.

The meeting engaged in a critical assessment of the state of the nation, expressed serious concerns about the frequency and intensity of kidnapping, banditry and bloodletting. The Council urged the Federal Government, the security agencies and all stakeholders to urgently reverse the ugly trend.

The Council appreciated the social intervention programme of the Federal Government and acknowledged the creation of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to coordinate such interventions in the given areas. It is our view that there is a strong relationship between poverty and insecurity and this view is reinforced by the saying that a hungry man is an angry man. We urge the Government to provide enough resources for the Ministry to actualise the needed interventions in making life more meaningful to the displaced, the disadvantaged and the unemployed.

All Nigerians are urged to desist from generating and circulating fake news as it is a whirlwind that ultimately blows no one any good. Freedom of speech is not to permit licentiousness. The Council reinstated its known position not to give undue religious weight to politicians’ chicanery that unwittingly create undue religious acrimony on partisan political issues. Religious leaders should therefore not be accomplices in the attempt to overheat the polity.

The Council equally noted with grave concern the continual displacement and expulsion of the Tafawa Balewa Muslim community from their ancestral land for many years. The failure of Government to bring succour to these internally-displaced victims of this targeted aggression and genocide in Bauchi State is highly disturbing especially as there is a conspiracy of silence on the part of those in authority on the agonies of the dispossessed and displaced Muslims of the community. The immediate past Governor of Bauchi State seemed to have taken no serious action on the Council’s request for justice. In renewing the request, the Council urged the new Governor of Bauchi State to comprehensively and justly solve the problem.

The Council urged restraint on the issue of mosque/ DPC demolition in Rivers State while awaiting the report of its fact-finding Committee. Meanwhile, we believe that students of Rivers State University (RSU), who had won the case against religious discrimination at the High Court and the Court of Appeal, should be given respite and be allowed to re-build their demolished mosque and practise their religion without let or hindrance. We, therefore, urged the Rivers State Government to halt its unnecessary and time consuming gimmicks of appealing to the Supreme Court on a matter that is clear and unambiguous. The Council urged the Muslim Students in Rivers State to still bear the pains of the deprivation of fundamental human rights by the Rivers State authorities while the apex Court decides.

The Council is mortified by the growing spectrum of hate, bile and bigotry targeted at Muslims in the South Eastern part of Nigeria. We warn that under no condition should the viral threats against Muslims be actualised as those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. We cannot afford to ignite another war. The episode of 1966-1967 should be a lesson to those who can learn from history.  What Nigeria needs is mutual cooperation and peaceful co-existence, not religious intolerance and ethnic jingoism.  

The Council also advised Nigerian Muslim girls/ ladies not to shirk away from exercising their religious obligation of wearing hijab in schools and at work places while appealing to anti-hijab elements to toe the line of reason by halting the harassment or intimidation of hijab-wearing Muslim women. As recently published in some National newspapers, United Kingdom and United States of America are among countries where female Muslim military and security personnel are allowed to wear hijab with their uniforms as a mark of recognition for their religious rights. Muslim women should not be barred from wearing hijab in public space in Nigeria.

Nigeria cannot reinvent the wheel and those who claim that Muslim women are not educated are the ones using hijab to discourage them from schools and the public space therefore playing unwittingly into the narrative of the extremists who insist that Western education is not compatible with Islam. The anti-hijab hysteria must stop if we are serious about reducing the number of out-of-school-children among whom Muslim girls constitute a significant number.

It is rather unfortunate that University of Ibadan whose founding fathers championed the cause of scholarship by establishing the Centre for Arabic Documentation, introduced Certificate and Diploma programmes in Islamic Studies and Arabic, created Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies and tapped the resources of Arabic to create and enrich Ibadan School of History is the same university being used by a bigot to eliminate the programmes, discouraged Muslim girls from International School, Ibadan, segregated Muslims from Christians in the classrooms so that the latter can be given more attention, fixed official meetings for the period of Friday worship and insisted Muslims must be de-Islamised before benefitting from a school established by the university. We insist Boko (western education) is halal (lawful) while the University of Ibadan is insisting on declaring Boko as haram. Lawmakers are should initiate bills that would streamline and unambiguously legitimise the use of hijab in public institutions in the country.

Lastly, the Council reiterated its position that Nigerian Muslims could effectively manage Hajj (pilgrimage) without any public fund. It is the involvement of Government in pilgrimage matters that is escalating the cost of pilgrimage and corrupting the system.

The Council called on all Muslims to continue to pray for God’s guidance for the Nation leaders at all levels.  

Aselemi Ibrahim
Head of Public Relations and Communication
For the Council

POST SCRIPT – We pray Allah to grant Alh. Sakariyau Babalola, the Deputy President General (South) al-jannatu-l-firdawz.