A religious body, Muslim Rights Concern MURIC, has alleged that millions of Muslim voters were disallowed from registering for the last general elections held in April 2011 courtesy a grand conspiracy between some Christian fanatics among the staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
”Going by INEC’s current body language coupled with Oritsejafor’s recent outburst, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has every reason to suspect foul play in the ongoing distribution of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) and capturing of faces of new eligible voters”, said the group’s Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola in a statement today.
”It will be recalled that CAN president, Oritsejafor, yesterday raised a false alarm that INEC planned to disenfranchise Nigerian Christians. He made the allegation without explaining how it could be possible for INEC to do that. On the contrary, it was Christians working as registration officers during the 2011 election who persecuted and profiled Muslims and disallowed them from registering”, Akintola declared.
He noted with dismay that Muslims who complained were told by those Christian officers that they should go to Kano or Sokoto if they wanted to dress like Muslims. Since this treatment was common in the whole South West during the 2011 election and since the remarks made by the officials were similar, it follows that CAN cannot wash its hands off such marginalization of Muslims.
We are therefore not a little amused by Oritsejafor’s false alarm that INEC planned to disenfranchise Christians. We are tempted to ask Oritsejafor, “Is there any means by which INEC officials can identify Christians merely by seeing them on queues?” “Is it not Muslims who are so easily identifiable?” “What has Oritsejafor got to gain by playing such pranks?”
“Is it part of godliness to oppress and still be the first to throw accusations”? “Does it not amount to deceit and dirty politics?” “Should such pranks come from the house of God?” Were Christians disenfranchised like Muslims in 2011? We challenge Oritsejafor to show evidence of INEC’s ploy to disenfranchise Christians otherwise Nigerians must conclude that the CAN president is accusing others to cover up his sinister plan against Muslims.
MURIC is constrained to remind Nigerians of the bitter pill forced down the throat of South West Muslims during the 2011 general elections when millions were not allowed to register and were consequently disenfranchised.
Millions of Muslim women who wore hijab were asked to remove them before their faces could be captured by the camera. Those who refused to do so were turned back and forced to return to their houses. MURIC office was flooded with complaints during this period but we appealed to the victims to exercise patience.
Apart from the women, thousands of Muslim males who wore caps and tajia suffered the same fate. Even the Imams were not speared. For wearing turbans, they were turned away from registration centers and threatened with arrest and prosecution.
MURIC resisted this ugly trend and our complaints were widely reported by the media during the 2011 election. We have every reason to believe that the same gameplan is about to replay itself during the present exercise.
We therefore call on INEC to educate and WARN its permanent and ad hoc staff not to attempt, under any guise whatsoever, to stop Muslims from carrying out their civic responsibilities this time around. South West Muslims have been pushed to the wall. They will not leave registration centers until they have been attended to. Neither will they obey anyone who asks them to remove their hijabs, caps, tajias and turbans.
The Islamic Scholar averred that Nigeria belongs to us all, Christians, Muslims and Traditionalists. Any attempt to repeat the stigmatization and political marginalisation of Muslims or subject them to mockery at registration centers will be firmly resisted. Even without going violent, Muslims will not allow enemies of peace to deprive them of their Allah-given fundamental human rights.
Finally and for the avoidance of any doubt, he said ”we affirm that no section of the Nigerian constitution disallows Muslim women from using hijab or their men from using caps, tajia or turban. Therefore any INEC official who attempts to disallow Muslims who use the aforementioned will not only be breaching the law but will also be inviting anarchy”.