The Islamic human rights group, Muslim Rights Concern, has labelled the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency as anti-Muslim for fixing its 2019 promotion examination for August 15, 16 and 17, 2019 for Group One and August 19, 20 and 21, 2019 for Group Two.
According to MURIC, those dates automatically make it impossible for NDLEA staff who are Muslims and who went on hajj (pilgrimage) to partake in the promotion examination.
This concern was raised in a statement circulated to the media by the group’s Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, on Tuesday.
MURIC added: “Any date for promotion examination or any sensitive policy matter which fails to accommodate and reflect the multifaceted nature of our society is lopsided, unfair and punitive. It is bound to create tension. This is what the dates picked for NDLEA’s 2019 promotion examination has done. There is palpable tension in the air.
“Muslim staffers of NDLEA who went on hajj should not be unduly punished or marginalized. Hajj is a religious exercise covered by the clause on freedom of religion in Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is therefore a right, not a privilege. Furthermore, hajj is not a frivolous spiritual sojourn as the Glorious Qur’an classifies it as the fifth pillar of Islam (Qur’an 22:26 – 33).
“It would have been a different cup of tea if the NDLEA management had announced the examination dates before those who went on hajj departed. It is therefore unfair to organize promotion exercise after some Muslims had already left the country. It is an anti-Muslim coup. This is most likely to put Muslim staff at a disadvantage. It has serious interfaith implications. Neither is it good enough for industrial harmony.
“Afterall NDLEA is not a private company. It was established by the Federal Government (FG) courtesy of decree 48 of 1989. We contend that management decisions in any jointly-owned establishment should accommodate all. For instance, it will be unfair to the Christian staff in any federal or state agency to fix promotion examination two days before or two days after Christmas.
“NDLEA had earlier intended to hold the promotion examination a few days before Salah. According to its circular signed by Yohanna Sila Mshelia, Director, Administration & Finance for Chairman/Chief Executive reference number NDLEA/FIN/88/VOL VII/227 dated 1st August 2019, the examination was ‘postponed to accommodate the coming Salah celebrations’.
“While we appreciate the postponement, it is our considered opinion that NDLEA should go the whole hog by allowing those who went on hajj to return before fixing another date. In the alternative, a safe date like the middle of September when all pilgrims would have returned to the country may be picked by the management of NDLEA.
“As we round off, we appeal to the NDLEA management to postpone the promotion examination to the middle of September 2019 when all Muslim staff who are currently in Saudi Arabia would have returned to the country. We urge NDLEA to seek unity among its staff and to promote industrial harmony at all times.”