An Islamic human rights organisation, the Muslim Rights Concern, has accused the Governor of Taraba State, Darius Ishaku, of carrying out intensive religious cleansing against Muslims in the state.
The allegation was contained in a statement on Tuesday by the Director of the human rights organisation, Prof. Ishaq Akintola.
The group said: “We have credible information that Muslims in Taraba State have been facing persecution in the hands of Governor Darius Ishaku since his assumption of office six years ago. It has been a long story of articulated marginalisation in appointments and acrobatic neglect in other benefits.
“The list of persecutions is endless. Darius has embarked on religious cleansing in all segments of the state’s civil service, agencies and institutions. For example, all the twelve permanent secretaries appointed two months ago are Christians.
“The issue is not their faith. What we are interrogating is the criteria the governor used. The appointments lack merit because all the Muslims on levels 17 and 16 who should have been made permanent secretaries were by-passed while Christians under them who are on level 14 were picked. Governor Darius Ishaku deserves an international award in gymnastic religiousity.
“Darius must be asked what happened to laid down procedure? What is the cause of absence of due process under the Christian governor of Taraba State? Why have Muslims become second class citizens under Ishaku? Is Taraba governor building a composite yet united citizenry? Is Darius conscious of the fact that he is preparing grounds for religious crisis in the state?
“Religious cleansing of unimaginable proportion is going on right now in Taraba as Muslim staff are being purged from their posts under the watchful eyes and ardent supervision of Darius Ishaku. Muslims in Taraba State have become endangered species. There is no job security or job satisfaction for them.
“Can Darius explain why the head of service, the secretary to the state government and the chief of staff are all Christians in a state where the governor is already a Christian but the population is predominantly Muslim? Is the governor aware that he is indirectly paving the way for the emergence of religious politics?
“Or does Governor Darius think the majority Muslim population does not know how to use its larger number as a game changer in the political architecture of the state? Perhaps a trial will convince Darius when ‘the come comes to become’. Politics is a game of numbers. We have no iota of doubt that this governor assumes that his tortuous policy of religious cleansing, oppression and persecution of Muslims will last forever. But we know that Taraba Muslims are no fools.
“The crimes of Darius against Taraba Muslims are being recorded. He appointed a Christian as registrar for Taraba State University without regard for the rules. He got a Christian bursar for the same university from the ministry after ignoring several qualified Muslim staff. Darius we hail thee. But there must be a day of reckoning.
“The most senior person who qualified for the post of auditor general of the state was bypassed because he is a Muslim while a Christian who had little or no experience was picked. What manner of criterion is this? Darius is sacrificing merit on the altar of mediocrity.
“Darius has also embarked on a project specifically designed to eliminate the most enduring heritage of Islam by refusing to appoint more Qadis (Shariah court judges) since the death of the Grand Qadi of Taraba State thereby rendering the Taraba State Sharia Court of Appeal redundant. The smart Alec knows fully well that the only two Qadis on ground cannot form a quorum.
“It was when the oppression reached a crescendo that Taraba Muslims addressed a press conference last Friday, 21st January, 2022. (https://apexnewsexclusive.com/appointments-others-taraba-muslims-council-knocks-governor-ishaku-over-marginalization/; https://www.nigerianewspapersonline.net/news/taraba-muslim-council-decries-marginalisation-by-governor-ishaku/).
“The press conference held by Taraba Muslims last week shows that Muslims in the state have started mobilising themselves and Darius will soon know that he has been too clever by half. He has since been running from pillar to post. This explains why the governor dispatched the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) to hold an emergency meeting with Taraba Muslims on Saturday, 22nd January, 2022. Here is indubitable evidence that Darius is jittery. Like the Shakespearian Macbeth, Darius has murdered sleep and he shall sleep no more. Arranging a meeting with Muslim leaders within 24 hours of their press conference is a manifestation of alarm.
“But why start what you cannot finish in the first place? Why start a campaign of religious cleansing, marginalization and oppression against Taraba Muslims when you know in your mind of minds that your victims are in the majority and that they can bite when they choose to, particularly if you stick your finger in their throats? Well, the sleeping giant has been aroused from its sleep.
“We advise Governor Darius Ishaku to retrace his steps with immediate effect. He should engage in genuine dialogue with his Muslim subjects. There must be a revision of all appointments made in the state. Muslim workers sacked by Darius must be recalled. The use of thugs to attack Muslim leaders must stop forthwith or Muslims in the state will be forced to react.
“We also call on the Taraba State branch of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) leadership to pay attention to the various encroachments of the state governor on labour laws. Religious cleansing of Taraba State labour force is an infringement on Allah-given fundamental human rights of Muslim workers in the state.
“Muslims in the Taraba State workforce are being summarily and arbitrarily dismissed by this regime. They are being discriminated against in employment opportunities. They are deprived of job security. This is a contravention of Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under right to freedom from discrimination. We demand protection for Taraba Muslim workers. Those sacked should be reinstated.
“To our Muslim bretheren in Taraba State who are facing inhuman treatment, humiliation and intimidation, MURIC has this strong message for you. You are not alone. We are with you in this struggle. We feel your pain. Be strong and steadfast in faith. Endure in patience. Remain calm and law abiding. This Babylon built by Darius will fall. Fir’awn (Pharaoh) will cease to be in power. Remember Allah’s words to Muslims facing persecution : ‘Do not be sad and do not lose hope. You shall be victorious if you are believers’ (Glorious Qur’an 3:139).
“Your duty is to ensure that another Fir’awn does not succeed Darius Ishaku. Although MURIC will not object to Christians being in power, we assert clearly, unambiguously and unequivocally that Muslim haters have no moral right sitting in governance over majority Muslim populations.
“However, it is the duty of the majority Muslim population to ease out Muslim haters from seats of power using constitutional and democratic means only. MURIC reiterates its aversion to the use of violence in all its ramifications. That is why our motto is ‘Dialogue, No Violence’.
“Therefore, what Muslim populations should do is to register en masse in readiness for the next election. Get your PVC. That is your power as citizens in a democratic environment. Vote out your oppressors. In the case of Governor Darius who is already in his second term, stop cooperating with him or his government officials and make it clear that the romance is over. Boycott his programmes. He is using you to create a false façade of religious harmony.
“As for Governor Darius Ishaku, MURIC has a word for you. The Bible says, ‘He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God’ (2 Samuel 23:3-4). But can you, in good conscience, beat your chest and affirm that you have been fair to your Muslim citizens who are in the majority in your state?
“Again the same Bible says, ‘It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts, for a throne is established on righteousness’ (Proverbs 16:12). Is it not an act of wickedness to subject Muslim workers to economic hardship by sacking them and by depriving them of rightful appointments? The battle line is drawn. We will soon know who blinks first.”