Restructuring Nigeria: See What Muslims Are Demanding From FG
group of Muslims under the aegis of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
have listed its restructuring demands to the All Progressives Congress, APC-led government.
demands were made known in a 6-point agenda contained in a statement
issued by MURIC’s President, Professor Ishaq Akintola. From public
holidays, religious marriages and courts to public service uniforms, the
group made their various demands known in clear terms. The statement
“One: Nigerians enjoy a total of eight (8)
public holidays in a year. These are Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New
Year Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Id al-Kabir, Id al-Fitr and Maulud
an-Nabiyy. Five (5) of the eight holidays belong to Christians
(Christmas Day, Boxing Day, 1st January, i.e, New Year Day, Good Friday
and Easter Monday). Only three (3) holidays belong to Muslims, viz, Id
al-Kabir, Id al-Fitr and Maulud an-Nabiyy.
give Muslims 1st Muharram. This will bring the total number of Muslim
holidays to four while Christian holidays remain five.
Christian marriages contracted inside churches or registries are held
sacrosanct everywhere in Nigeria whereas Muslim marriages (nikah) are
not recognized for any official purpose. Muslim couples find themselves
in a cul de sac each time they present their Islamic marriage
certificates for official purposes. It is paradoxical that in a
democracy, one marriage conducted by a religious group is acceptable
while the other is not. What kind of constitution is Nigeria using?
marriages should be recognized in all official circles where Christian
marriages are recognized. The Nigerian Marriage Act (1990) should,
therefore, be revisited.
Nigeria has a two-day weekend, viz, Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a
half day during the colonial era and Sunday was the only full day at
the weekend. However, Saturday was made a full day to favour the Seventh
Day Adventists, a Christian denomination during the regime of General
Yakubu Gowon, a Christian military ruler. It is very clear, therefore,
that the two weekend days recognized in Nigeria belong to Christians
while Muslims have none since Friday, the Muslim day of worship, remains
a working day.
”It is pertinent to note that Friday was a
work-free day until the British brought Christianity and stopped Muslims
from enjoying their Allah-given fundamental human right. The relief we
are seeking through restructuring is that Friday should be declared free
to assume parity with the Christians’ Sunday. While we are not seeking
anarchy, we are confident that the Federal Government (FG) has all the
paraphernalia of administration to work out the modalities.
Immigration officials engage in regular stereotyping of Muslims who
apply for international passports. They intimidate Muslims particularly
at the point of taking pictures. Muslim males are ordered to remove
their caps; Imams are coerced into removing their turbans; bearded
Muslims are compelled to shave or trim their beards; hijab-wearing
Muslim women are made to remove their hijabs or ordered to draw their
hijab backwards to reveal their ears. The same scenario plays itself out
in driving licence, national identity card offices and during
registration for elections.
”In the process, thousands of Muslims
have been denied international passports, driving licences and national
identity cards while millions have been disenfranchised during
elections. The authorities must find a way of stopping the persecution
and profiling of Muslims.
”Five: Uniformed groups
in Nigeria, including the army, police, uniformed voluntary groups,
nurses, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC),
students of primary and secondary schools, etc, use uniforms designed
by the Christian colonialists. These uniforms should have been reviewed
after independence because they only suit the Christians. Some of them
constitute breaches to Islamic dress code and offend the sensibility of
Muslims who are compelled to wear the uniforms regardless of their inner
feeling of resentment.
”In view of the fact that Western
countries like Britain, Canada and the United States have designed
uniforms with hijab for their female Muslim police, soldiers, students,
etc, Nigeria’s restructuring authorities should borrow a leaf from those
There is no single Shari’ah court in South Western Nigeria where
Muslims constitute the majority. This is contrary to what is obtained in
Yorubaland before the advent of the British. There were Shariah courts
in Ede, Iwo, Ikirun, Ibadan, etc. Yoruba Muslims are now compelled to
take their civil matters like inheritance, marriage, etc, to
Christo-Western courts. This is preposterous and unacceptable.
demand the establishment of Shariah courts in all South Western states
including Edo State where there is a significant percentage of Muslims.
call the attention of FG and the restructuring committee of the APC to
the above six reliefs. Muslims are in bondage in this country and we
believe that restructuring should emancipate people in captivity. APC
promised change. This change can only be meaningful to us if it breaks
the shackles around our necks. We have begged enough for the restoration
of our Allah-given and fundamental human rights. We are tired of
begging. Restructuring is about reapportioning the dividends of
democracy such that it goes round and it is not restricted to one
”Colonial administration was grossly unfair to Muslims.
Nigeria was Christianised by Britain and Muslims bore the brunt. We
suffered forceful conversion, denial of rightful employment and even
worse forms of persecution. But what is most disappointing is the policy
of exclusion adopted by post-independence governments.
a final note, we demand full integration and full recognition as bona
fide citizens of Nigeria, not second or third class citizens. We are the
aggrieved party. The British most brutally and most unjustly took all
we had from us, giving us nothing in return and offering no relief. It
has continued to give us a feeling of rejection, marginalization, denial
of the dividends of democracy and lack of a sense of belonging. The
time for redress is now and our six-point relief is here for all to