The Muslims Rights Concern, MURIC, has expressed concern over the fate of Yoruba Muslims if South-western Nigeria ceded to form Oduduwa Republic.
The MURIC Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, stated this in a statement on Wednesday while reacting to Olayemi Koiki, the media aide to Sunday Igboho, who had said Muslims would be allowed to practise their religion if Oduduwa Republic becomes a reality.
Mr Akintola said Mr Koiki stated that while responding to the MURIC statement in which it demanded to know what those agitating for Oduduwa Republic have in stock for Yoruba Muslims like hijab and Shariah.
But MURIC in this statement expressed dissatisfaction over Mr Koiki’s response, saying that it needed to know how prepared are the agitators for the full integration of their fellow Yoruba’s who are Muslims.
The statement reads: “Nowhere in his interview did he mention hijab. He was not even categorical on the issue of Sharia.
“What he said was ‘whether you want to practice Sharia, it’s entirely up to you’. He did not say, ‘it is allowed’ or ‘We will support the use of Sharia’. That response may be a mere diplomatic stunt.
“According to him, ‘In 2018, Christians were killed in Benue because the people who killed them believe they own the land. If you look at the Southern part of the country even as a Muslim your religion seems different from that of someone from the North because the Northern Muslims believe you must adhere to a particular dress code.
“Everyone can see transferred aggression in that statement. The issue is Yorubaland and what the agitators for Oduduwa Republic think of the demands of Yoruba Muslims.
“That is part of what Yoruba Muslims have been complaining about. Female Muslims in Yorubaland are often told ‘This is not Kano. You can’t use hijab here’.
“The question is, how prepared are the agitators for the full integration of their fellow Yoruba’s who are Muslims?”
According to the director, the fate of the Muslim population in Yorubaland needs to be clarified in order to guarantee their freedom and safety.
“It is because of this glaring lacuna in the response of Igboho’s aide that MURIC must seek further clarification from well-known Yoruba socio-cultural groups like Afenifere, Yoruba World Congress (YWC), Federation of Yoruba Consciousness and Culture (FYCC), Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE).
“Yoruba Muslims will equally like to hear from the Yoruba Welfare Group (YWG) though the group has been telling Yoruba leaders to tread cautiously.
“It is important for the records. Unborn children of Yoruba Muslims are going to read all these and they will know that their progenitors sought to guarantee their safety, their freedom and the dignity of their human persons.
“It is our contention that if Igboho could hear MURIC’s demands (which made him respond), Yoruba leaders also heard them.
“It is on record that MURIC had based its objection to the idea of an Oduduwa Republic because of the open marginalization, oppression and persecution of Yoruba Muslims in the region.”
Mr Akintola said that if the oppression of the Muslims is not properly addressed, the situation is likely to worsen.
“The statement made by Chief Femi Fani-Kayode in which he said he knew where to keep Muslims like Akintola after the actualization of Oduduwa Republic is a major reference point.
“There are other cases in reference and examples of the violation of the civil rights of Muslims in Yorubaland. Muslim female teachers who went for a promotion interview in Abeokuta last week (Thursday 15th April, 2021) were told that they must remove their hijab before they could be interviewed.
“These are issues we want Afenifere and the Yoruba leaders to address in their response. Their silence will mean they have a hidden agenda. It will mean they are determined to continue oppressing their fellow Yorubas who are Muslims after the Oduduwisation of Yorubaland.”
The director clarified that the Sharia law that is practiced is civil, being that it focuses on the safety and wellbeing of Muslims.
“Let us make it clear that the type of Sharia which the Muslims want is not the one which involves the cutting of hands. That has been the false propaganda of detractors.
“The type of Sharia which Yoruba Muslims want is civil Sharia. It will only enable Muslims to settle marriage cases among themselves and to share the inheritance of deceased Muslims according to the teachings of the Qur’an.
“We must also put the Sharia matter in its proper perspective. This was the kind of Sharia that Yoruba Muslims have been practicing even before the advent of Christianity (which arrived in Nigeria in 1842 while Islam arrived in 1085).
“The British Christian colonialists met Sharia in Yorubaland but they abrogated it totally and replaced it with common law. This act of tyranny against Yoruba Muslims should have been reviewed after independence in 1960.
“The fact that the British imperialists totally annulled Sharia in Yorubaland, but merely curtailed it to civil sharia in the North exposes the hypocrisy of the colonialists.
“If they could allow civil Sharia in the North (which they did), why didn’t they leave it in the South West? The British laid mines on the Nigerian soil for Nigerians to step on and blow themselves up.
“Unfortunately that is exactly what we are doing today instead of coming together, sitting down and engaging in constructive dialogue.
“We are not asking for something new. We are demanding the restoration of a right and a religious practice unjustly halted and denied by the Christian colonial master, Britain.”
Mr Akintola noted that the leaders of the Yoruba groups need to state their positions in regards to the plight of the Muslims.
“The way forward is for leaders of the agitation to respond to this statement by making pronouncements on their position on the hijab affair and civil Sharia. That is the first step.
“Next, they should engage Muslim leaders in Yorubaland in genuine dialogue. The record of the discussions and the names of those involved must be made public in order to avoid a repeat of the Aburi Accord fiasco.
“Thirdly, all threats and blackmail against those who speak against secession or against the breakup of Nigeria should stop. That will signal goodwill and readiness to accommodate all Yoruba sons and daughters regardless of their religious background or ideological leaning.
“Contrary to the claim being made by Oduduwa Republic ideologues, MURIC seeks peace in Yorubaland. We are not out for mischief.
“Finally, Yoruba Muslims do not want war with any part of Nigeria. They prefer a peaceful and negotiated arrangement either way.”