The West African Examinations Council has accused the Director of the Muslim Rights Concern, Prof. Ishaq Akinola, of disrupting the registration for its examinations in some schools.
However, MURIC has said the accusation by a Deputy Registrar of WAEC, Henry S. A. Osidehinde, amounted to threats against Akintola.
A statement on Monday by MURIC said Osidehinde, a Reverend, issued the threat during a WAEC seminar for teachers held at the council’s headquarters in Ogba, Lagos State on March 14, 2019.
According to the statement signed by the General Secretary of MURIC, Alhaji Yakeen Williams, and the Public Relations Officer, Shafiu Ayorinde, the WAEC official allegedly said: “Even in Nigeria we are becoming over-religious. We are becoming more holier (sic) than Pope and more holier (sic) than the man in Saudi Arabia, that someone like Professor Ishaq Akintola will now be going to schools and disrupting places because of free time. We need to stop this.
“I mention this because it is getting too much and I expect the Lagos State Government to take proper action against Professor Ishaq Akintola. He went to a school and disrupted the registration exercise there. I have the video here. No, don’t threaten an institution that belongs to the government.
“The government can take anybody out and you may not see the person again and nothing will happen. Nothing. Not that they will kill the person. They will just take that person out of circulation and keep him somewhere.”
MURIC expressed shock at the threat issued by the WAEC official.
The statement said: “This is nauseating. A Christian reverend holding a high post in such a sensitive institution nurses such pernicious ideas against a fellow human being? Where is his Christlikeness? It is sad that there are many like him in the civil service.
“This Muslim-hater forgot that we are in an IT world. Things have changed. Hardly can you say anything nowadays and get away with it. There are records everywhere today. Even walls now have ears. We are waiting for him to deny it. We have the audio clip. Just let him try to deny it.
“We cannot take Mr. Osidehinde’s threat against our Director lightly. It is outrageous. How can a whole deputy registrar in WAEC office talk like that? He has simply proved that he is a Christian fanatic. How can you wish a fellow Nigerian should disappear permanently? He must explain all these to the authorities.
“The deputy registrar complained that Akintola was threatening an institution (i.e. WAEC) that belongs to the government. But we will like to ask the reverend/deputy registrar if it is right to use an institution that belongs to government to persecute Muslims.
“Or is it WAEC that sent him on this criminal errand? Does WAEC wish Akintola dead? Does the examination body want our Director to disappear? It had better not happen. But did WAEC authorize its Christian officials to use their positions to vilify Muslims and wish them kidnapped or killed? Did WAEC ask its officials to use an institution that belongs to government to persecute Muslims?
“It is abundantly clear from the above transcript that Reverend Osidehinde is filled with ill-will for Professor Akintola. He has evil desires. He wants Akintola to disappear. What we are not sure of is the extent to which he can go. That is what the security agencies should find out from him. Does the government have a special squad that makes people disappear? Will he arrange to kidnap Akintola if government fails to make him disappear? Will he organize an assassination?”
MURIC also called on the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, to launch a full investigation into the incident.
The group also sought protection for its Director and members of his family.
It said: “Reverend Osidehinde wants to cause crisis in this country by carelessly issuing threat against a public figure. We call on the security agencies to launch full investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident. We also ask for protection for our Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola. Nobody should be allowed to play God in the lives of his fellowmen.
“We remind the Inspector General of Police that our Director is a public figure and a notable Muslim leader. Threat to the life of such a person should not be ignored. We are certain that the security agencies know what we are talking about.”
The Islamic human rights organization explained why it intervened in the school incident.
It said: “Helpless parents whose children were being forced to remove their hijab in Iba Estate Senior Secondary School called us to help. They also came with us. It is a public school, not a private property. It belongs to all of us. Therefore nobody has the right to use such property for the persecution of Muslim children. It is called a school, not a prison yard for crying out loud. In any case the Lagos State Government declared that hijab is legitimate and that female Muslim students have the right to use it.
“Surprisingly, overzealous and fanatical school principals and teachers refused to obey the state government’s directive. They ordered the children to remove their hijab when they were about to take pictures for the registration of WAEC. That was Draconian. It was an illegal order and the parents kicked.
“Recalcitrant principals and teachers who continue to disobey Lagos government’s directive on hijab should know that those who disallow what the state government allows make it impossible for Muslim students not to disobey. The teachers disobeyed the state government and the parents told their children to disobey the teachers. Muslim children are being persecuted by fanatical Christian principals and teachers under the guise of performing official functions.
“MURIC merely went in to ensure that government’s directive was carried out. We went there to ensure that fanatical teachers are not allowed to sabotage government’s policy. In any case, was it WAEC that gave instructions that female Muslim students should remove their hijab as claimed by those who came to register the students?
“Did WAEC also issue the same instruction to schools in Northern Nigeria? The school’s action was illegal. You cannot build anything on nullity. The school principal or his reverend/deputy registrar friend in WAEC may want to go to court for the action taken by MURIC. We are waiting.”
MURIC denied the claim made by Osidehinde in the audio that Akintola or MURIC threatened WAEC.
It said: “It is a big lie. Neither Akintola as an individual nor MURIC has ever threatened any individual or institution. It is not in our character. We challenge the reverend/deputy registrar to provide his evidence for Nigerians to see.
“The problem we have in Nigeria today is that fanatics like Reverend Osidehinde become carried away by their religious zeal so much so that they allow it to becloud their objectivity. They use their public office to persecute people of other faith. Meanwhile they see Akintola and MURIC as a threat to their illegal exploit. That is simply what has happened. That is why our reverend wants Akintola guillotined.”
MURIC wondered how WAEC has been condoning excesses committed against Muslims.
It also requested WAEC to investigate the matter internally and take necessary action afterwards.
It said: “We are wondering what is happening in WAEC and we are asking if Muslims are safe in the hands of this regional examination body. Why is Islamophobia so deeply entrenched in WAEC? A WAEC official yanked off the hijab from a female Muslim candidate’s head right inside the examination hall some years back. We reported the case but what did WAEC do?
“What is WAEC going to do with this case of threat to life coming from a top management staff, an officer of the rank of deputy registrar? Why was he so flippant, so careless? Was the seminar about MURIC’s activities or about Akintola? If it is not so, why the dangerous digression? Has Deputy Registrar Osidehinde behaved professionally? When did beer parlour gossip become WAEC’s business? Or does his threat represent WAEC’s official position? If so, is WAEC just going to sit back, pat him on the back and give him double promotion? Nigerians are watching.
“On our part, we demand that WAEC commences investigation into the threat to the life of our Director with immediate effect. The fact that the threat was made in the course of carrying out an official duty makes it mandatory for the examination body to take disciplinary action against its erring staff. Osidehinde personalized issues and allowed his hatred for Muslims to override official discipline. WAEC needs to clear its good name.
“At this juncture, we are compelled to ask what Osidehinde and his cohorts want. They are now after the life of a man who devoted his entire life to peaceful persuasion. This is a man who boldly condemned Boko Haram and constantly urges Muslims to eschew extremism and remain law-abiding. By seeking to kill him or make him disappear, it means they will not be satisfied until he keeps quiet and allows them to do whatever they like with Nigerian Muslims.
“They are not happy with him because he stands between them and their desire to silence Muslims permanently, to persecute them and finally to eliminate Islam completely from the entire country. As the founder of MURIC, Akintola has modelled his organization on pacific activism, non-violence and dialogue and has never been involved in any violent incident.
“Nonetheless, our Director is known for outstanding courage on account of which he was recently turbaned as the Kinniun Adinni (Lion of Scholars). The courage which he exhibits in fighting against the oppression of Muslims should not be misinterpreted as lawlessness or religious extremism. We reject such blackmail. Akintola is merely fighting for justice, fairness and equity and he uses intellectual and peaceful methods, not violence.
“In a nutshell, we condemn this threat against our Director. We charge the IG to take necessary steps capable of ensuring Professor Akintola’s safety. We call on WAEC to immediately institute investigations into the matter.”