Prof. Ishaq Akintola, director of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has denounced any links with the terror organisation, Islamic State (IS). He said that ISIS and Boko Haram hate his group because MURIC preaches ‘Dialogue not Violence’. He said Nigeria’s leaders are the biggest enemies of the country and that Nigerians of all sects must learn to coexist. He also spoke on other national issues.
There have been widespread sectarian killings across the country in recent times, especially in Southern parts of Kaduna State. What is your take on this?
The problem in Southern Kaduna State is actually caused by those people living there, Christians and Muslims, indigenes and non-indigenes alike. There is no way the government can pack all these people away from the area and bring new people, it is impossible. So they have to accept and live with each other, the Christians should accept the Muslims and vice versa. If the people of Southern Kaduna don’t want to keep dying like ants, they should accept one another. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)and other bodies should also stop interfering in Islamic matters. Apart from these people learning to accept one another, the Federal Government should station soldiers there for a prolonged period of time. But the problem is that once the Federal Government deploys soldiers to troubled areas, some interested groups and other trouble makers will start agitating that the soldiers should be redeployed because they have some hidden agenda. That is why there has been no solution to the crisis there and I think the Federal Government should station soldiers there permanently by building a military bar- racks there, perhaps, the presence of the army there will deter the trouble makers.
From the time the 1999 Constitution was promulgated, there have been agitations for the amendment, but of late, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) have kicked against any attempt to amend the constitution. What do you make of that?
The problem of Nigeria has nothing to do with the laws; the citizens of Nigerian are actually the biggest problem of the country. The constitution guarantees every citizen freedom of movement, speech, worship and other social freedoms, but Nigerians have not allowed that constitution to work. For instance, Moslems, particularly in the South West of Nigeria are not enjoying the dividends of democracy. The Moslems in the South West of Nigeria are in chains. The 1999 constitution in section 38, (1) and (2) guarantees freedom of worship, the constitution permits Moslems to use Shari’a, whether civil or not, but we have been applying for civil Shari’a in the South West for the past 20 years, but the South West governments have not allowed it. Why must I be forced to marry in the Christian way or be forced to prepare my Will in a Christian way? I am a Moslem. Go to the marriage registry in Ikoyi, it belongs to the government but you will see the picture of Jesus on the wall. Moslems in the South West are under pressure, it is almost as we are in the apartheid-era South Africa and we the Moslems are the Black. Section 256 to 260 of the constitution guarantees the use of Shari’a for anywhere where the people want it. Moslems are in the majority in the South West, yet we are not allowed to have Shari’a. Section 42 of the constitution forbids marginalisation; it requires the state governor, the local government chairmen and others to ensure that appointments are distributed evenly to reflect the heterogeneity of the population in any area, but that has not been the case. During the administration of Gov Ayo Fayose in Ekiti State, all his commissioners were Christians. Gov Seyi Makinde in Oyo State has turned the state to a Christian state, he made three board appointments and they are all Christians, he is marginalising the Muslims. The same thing is happening in Ogun State under Gov Dapo Abiodun. This is not politics; Gov Abiodun is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while Gov Makinde is of the All progressives Congress (APC). It is unfortunate that when the average Nigerian governor gets into office, he will want to favour only people of his own religion. Why will the constitution work when the leaders are violating it with impunity? And when we try to resist them, they will brand us terrorists and look for ways to implicate us. We are wicked unto ourselves, there is nothing wrong with the 1999 constitution; it is the people who don’t allow it to work. Majority of our leaders are enemies of democracy and peace.
Do you think the South West regional security outfit, Amotekun should be under the control of the Inspector General of Police (IGP)?
Initially, we the Moslems of the South West raised objections with the name, only the name; we said that if Amotekun is being formed that it should not be because of the Northerners. We need security and it is good that the governors came together to form a security outfit; they have named Amotekun, so we have gone beyond the name controversy. However, they should make sure that they are fair to all and not targeting Northerners or Easterners. We must understand that Yoruba sons and daughters are in the East and North. So,
if you target any particular tribe residing in Yoruba land, that particular tribe will also target the Yoruba in their area. It was because of the noises being made about Fulani herdsmen that they created Amotekun, but I must say that you don’t create a security outfit because of a particular people; a security outfit should be created for everybody. We should secure the lives of Northerners, the Igbo, the Ijaw and everybody living in our midst so that they too will secure the lives of the Yoruba in their mist; that is what security is about; that is what federation and security are about, we cannot joke about it. Amotekun is welcome once it is not discriminatory.
Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) is threatening that they will set up it’s own security outfit to be based in Southern Nigeria to counter the perceived threat of Amotekun. What do you say?
This question is not really for me; you have to speak to the Miyetti Allah that wants to form the security outfit or the people that wanted to form Amotekun, I am not behind Amotekun or any other group, so I should not be the one to speak for them, I am not their spokesman.
Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje has said he will not hesitate to sign the death warrant of 30-year-old Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, sentenced to death by hanging by an Upper Shari’a Court in the state over blasphemy. What is your position?
In Igboland, there are certain laws that are restricted to the locality. As a Yoruba man, I cannot go to a place like say, Nnewi and say they should not practise their system. People are poke-nosing into the affairs of the Northerners. That law has been passed, it has been there all along and the law on blasphemy is also in the Bible. If because of civilisation we want to be wiser than God, we want to by-pass the laws in the Old Testament, that is a problem? Look at the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been no solution so far, even with all the atomic energy power we have not been able to defeat the pandemic? It is taunting us. some people say it is because of the so many sins we have committed that God sent a disease we cannot find the solution. Could it be that it is because we have been blaspheming against God? Why don’t we leave what is Peter’s to Peter and what is God’s to God? Why don’t we leave what is to the Hausa Fulani to the Hausa -Fulani and what is to the South to the South? Why do we want the Hausa-Fulani to change their identity? It is not possible, the man who was sentenced to death is not a Christian, he is a Moslem and all Moslems have signed from birth the agreement that they will abide with the laws of Allah. Shari’a is the law of Allah and you can’t divide us. Ganduje is right, the Shari’a court is right. They say the law is an ass, that is common law but Shari’a law is from God, it is divine.
Let me take you back to branding you terrorists and attempts to implicate you because you tried to resist un- just laws. MURIC was recently accused of receiving funds from the terrorist group, Islamic State (IS), what do you say?
We did not receive any money from ISIS and we don’t know ISIS and we don’t know Boko Haram. In fact, ISIS and Boko Haram must see us as enemies because we have been condemning them for the past 10 years. The motto of MURIC is ‘Dialogue not Violence’. We are dialogue people and condemn terrorism. Those who came up with this false and phantom allegation have their own hidden agenda. They want to implicate us in a terrorism issue because we are demanding the Allah given rights of Yoruba Moslems. It is because we are promoting the rights of Moslems in general, particularly Moslems of the South because those who made this allegation are also Yoruba. The person who brought it up at source is a Yoruba man and a committed member of Oduduwa movement and he is neither Christian nor Moslem. He hates Christians and Moslems, on his Facebook page he is preaching African Traditional Religion. The Book of Proverbs 19: 9 says ‘the liar shall be destroyed, the liar shall be punished’. that is what is going to happen to them. When you do evil, nothing else will go after you than what you have sowed, we know our hands are clean.