As COVID-19 continues to diminish the numerical strength in world populations and assail the health condition of over 1.5 million people across the globe, the Muslim Rights Concern has revealed its contributions towards the amelioration of hunger and hardship associated with the lockdown in Nigeria.
The Islamic human rights group revealed that it launched what it termed MURIC COVID-19 RELIEF SCHEME in March 2020 and Muslims from all parts of the country have been donating to the scheme, while the money realised is being steadily channeled to widows, orphans and other vulnerable Nigerians through the state chairmen of the organization.
This was revealed in a press statement issued by the Director and founder of the human rights advocacy group, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, on Monday.
Akintola said: “There is no gainsaying the fact that COVID-19 is a deadly pandemic and we in MURIC realized very early that all hands must be on deck to combat its spread as well as to ameliorate the suffering of the people. MURIC in particular has a special interest in generating palliatives for vulnerable Nigerians during this lockdown.
“This is because apart from our motto which is, ‘Dialogue, No Violence’, we must work in consonance with MURIC’s popular dogma which says, ‘We are oppressed until the hungry are fed, the naked clothed, the sick healed and the homeless sheltered’. The implication of this ideology is that we are allergic to people’s suffering. We have a phobia for violence, bloodshed, tyranny, oppression, hunger, starvation, disease and all kinds of unfavourable human conditions capable of inflicting pain and trauma on homo sapiens.
“To this end, we launched ‘MURIC COVID-19 RELIEF SCHEME’ on 29th March, 2020. It was a nation-wide campaign which attracted donations from Muslims all over the country. As at midnight of Sunday, 19th April, 2020 (yesterday), the scheme has netted N2,210,500.00 (two million, two hundred and ten thousand, five hundred naira.
“To date, we have disbursed N2,033,000 (two million and thirty-three thousand naira), leaving N177,500 (one hundred and seventy-seven thousand, five hundred naira only. Our disbursements are channeled through the chairmen of state branches of MURIC, e.g. Mallam Hassan Sani Indabawa (chairman, Kano branch), Mustapha Ibrahim (Kaduna), Aminu Abdullahi Yalwa (Katsina), Muniru Shehu (Sokoto), Hajia Haleemah Muhammed Sani (Kogi), Dr. Nurudeen Oloso (Oyo), Alhaji Tajudeen Jimoh (Ogun), Alhaji Jibril Ette (Akwa Ibom), Salahudeen Ustadh Yunus (Abuja), etc.
“These branch chairmen have been able to operate at grassroots level. They identified vulnerable Nigerians and gave them relief materials in cash and kind. Thus we have been able to bring smiles to the faces of Nigerians in our own little way. For example, the Lagos State chapter of MURIC embarked on a ‘3-Day Feed the Hungry’ campaign last week by sharing rice on Wednesday 14th April, 2020, gari on Thursday, 16th April, 2020 and cooked rice in takeaways on Friday, 17th April, 2020.
“In addition, our Katsina state chapter under Aminu Abdullahi Yalwa and MURIC’s Ambassador to the state, Mohammed Idris Ruma, presented cartons of spaghetti to the Katsina state government on Thursday, 16th April, 2020. Other state branches have also shared foodstuff and cash to members of the public.
“Furthermore, we have received distress calls from hungry Nigerians and we have responded by sending cash directly to their bank accounts. It may be as little as N5,000 or even N2,000 at times but the reactions we get from them shows the gravity of their plight, the depth of abject poverty among poor Nigerians and the suffering of Nigerians during this inevitable and life-saving lockdown. We are also happy to declare that our relief packages both in cash and kind is for all Nigerians. We do not discriminate between tribes or faiths. We give all so long as we still have.
“For probity and accountability, we give daily updates about donations received, amount transferred to the accounts of state chairmen and the balance. The chairmen also supply information concerning how allocations received by them are disbursed. We make the system transparent and this has infused confidence in our donors. But these reports are not so important as our consciousness of the final report which each of us must give Allah yaom al-Qiyamah (on the Day of Judgement). Interestingly, donations to MURIC cuts across tribes. Muslims donate to us from the North, from Abuja capital territory and from the South.
“We hereby express profound appreciation to our donors who made it possible to reduce hunger and suffering among Nigerians during COVID-19 lockdown. To the donors we say, ‘The beneficiaries may not know you. The hungry who have been fed may not have received directly from your hands. But Allah heard their cries when they were in distress, He also heard their sighs of relief upon receiving what you sent to them through us. Most importantly, He heard their silent and loud prayers for those who brought help to them. Be rest assured that those prayers from the heart of the poor climb swiftly above the clouds and reach the Divine Throne.
“In our concluding remarks, we appeal to Nigerians to be their brothers’ keepers. We charge wealthy individuals to give more at this trying moments. Nigerians are hungry. Give your neighbour something no matter how little. We have met whole family of eight that have had nothing to eat for three consecutive days. We have seen pain and anguish boldly printed on the faces of fellow Nigerians. It is pathetic. Our hearts bleed.
“As Ramadan approaches, we remind Muslims in particular that they must renew acts of charity in the holy month. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: ‘Anyone who fills his stomach but ignores his hungry neighbor is not a Muslim.’
“We urge the federal and state governments to consider the possibility of relaxing the lockdown temporarily so that the calamity which we are trying to avoid in the straight may not occur in the bends. Hunger has the potential of provoking criminality which, in turn, is capable of leading to death. Nigerians must also religiously follow the instructions of health authorities and those of the government. Stay at home or maintain social distance if you have to go out. Wash your hands frequently or use sanitizers. Nigeria needs you alive, not dead.”