A civil rights group has called for the arrest of the Director, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Professor Ishaq Akintola, for allegedly making hateful comments and inciting Muslims against the Governor Seyi Makinde-led Oyo State Government.
Akintola’s recent campaign of “No hijab, No vote”, where the professor asked Muslims in Oyo to not re-elect Makinde in the 2023 election, amounts to “campaign of calumny and politics of religion,” said the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).
In a statement he issued on February 11, 2022, the MURIC Director had said “Oyo State Muslims must take the message of liberty to the villages and hamlets. The hills of Moniya and the valleys of Akanran must echo our slogan. ‘No Hijab, No Vote’ must reverberate on Mapo Hill. Muslim women in Oyo-Ile, Oke Ogun, Ogbomosho, etc, must breathe the air of liberty. Enough is enough. We are leaving Babylon.
“Muslims who have voters’ cards must dust them up. They should check them now and ensure they remember where their voters’ cards are kept before the day of election. Those who have no cards should quickly set the machinery in motion to collect their PVC. Your vote is your weapon. Your vote is your power. Your vote will liberate you from the tyranny of your oppressors.”
MURIC gave the charge to Muslim faithful in Oyo after Governor Makinde clarified a statement he earlier made in commemoration of the 2022 World Hijab Day.
Makinde, in the statement issued by his Special Assistant on Islamic Affairs, Abdulrasheed Abdazeez, had said that he had “instructed those in positions of authority in the state’s public service and across all our public schools not to intimidate or harass anyone because of their religious beliefs or practices” adding that “hijab is the pride of every female Muslim and it remains sacrosanct.”
But after media reports quoted him as approving the use of Hijab for female Muslim students in Oyo schools, Makinde clarified that his administration had not altered the state’s policy on freedom of religion as contained in a circular dated October 27, 2013.
“In Muslim named/faith-based public schools, the usage/wearing of hijab as part of the school uniform is allowed in accordance with Islamic tradition/religious belief of student who may wish to do so.
“In Christian named/faith-based public schools, the student’s uniform should be in line with the established tradition of the school and Christian religion.
“In Community-based public schools, the usage/wearing of a common hijab/beret by female students is permissible. This is however optional for parents/students who wish to do so,” the governor had clarified.
Reacting, however, the MURIC Director, Akintola, accused Governor Makinde of trying to “rob” female Muslim students in the state of “their identity” while threatening that “Muslims in the state will speak to him in the language he understands” in the 2023 elections.
But HURIWA’s national coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement on Friday, described Akintola’s remark as “religious extremism and ideological radicalism”.
Onwubiko’s words: “In saner climes, Akintola, a professor of Islamic Eschatology at the Lagos State University, would have been arrested by now. It is ironical that the MURIC’s director is enjoying the freedom of rights that he doesn’t want other Nigerians to enjoy because they are not Muslims.
“Akintola must be on some cheap self-delusional fantasy for embarking on a campaign to foist the use of hijab on students in Oyo State public schools without respect for their religious subscription.
“The so-called professor must be made to understand that the use of hijab must be voluntary and not mandatory, especially in Nigeria where there is a mixed religious base of Muslims, Christians and even traditional adherents including ATHEISTS. Akintola must know that where a Muslim’s rights stops is where a Christian’s rights begin and so on.
“To think that the hijab controversy has caused sharp religious divisions in Kwara State and Osun State of late is even concerning and nobody in power should ever go the way of Osun and Kwara. Never!
“The religious fundamental views expressed by Akintola is akin to the Islamisation agenda rumoured by many when President Muhammadu Buhari came into office in 2015. For a country to have Muslims heading its executive arm, the two arms of the legislature and the judiciary, yet the Christians aren’t complaining. Must their children now be forced to use hijabs at schools?
“Akintola must wake up from his myopic slumber and stop vomiting gibberish views. The use of hijab or otherwise is a personal choice and does not even in any way guarantee sound moral behaviours. Examples abound in the society.
“The Sultan, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar-led Jama’atu Nasril Islam, should caution MURIC’s Akintola now before he turns Nigeria to another Afghanistan with his extreme religious intolerance. Security agents should also not hesitate to invite him for questioning for making inciting comments against the Oyo State governor.”