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Muslim Leaders to Nigerians: Vote for Candidate Who Will Lead with Fairness, Justice

They cautioned against ‘accidental Imams’ and ‘emergency Sheikhs’ preaching hatred and disunity.

Ahead of the general election, which commences next month, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has advised Nigerians to freely choose the best candidates and vote those who would lead with justice, fairness and uprightness. NSCIA stated this in a communique released on Monday, at the end of its special extraordinary meeting of the expanded General Purpose Committee (EGPC) meeting held on Wednesday, December 28, 2022.

The council warned those it referred to as “accidental Imams” and “emergency Sheikhs”, who promoted hatred, disunity and dissension in their mosques and on the social media to desist from such negative activities.

It also expressed concern over the worsening insecurity in the country and called on the security agencies to protect Muslims, especially in the south-eastern part of the country.

The council had convened a special extraordinary meeting of its EGPC with a view to appraising the state of the Ummah, considering the reports of its various committees, and taking a position on the 2023 general election.

The meeting was presided over by President-General of NSCIA and Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar IV, and attended by Muslim leaders from across the country. The communique, which was jointly signed by Secretary General of NSCIA, Professor Is-haq O. Oloyede, and Director of Administration, Zubairu Haruna Usman-Ugwu, directed all Muslims to pray fervently to the Almighty Allah for peace, security and wellbeing of Nigeria and for the success of the general election and the forthcoming population census.

It urged the security agencies to do more to protect the lives and properties of Muslims.

It said the authorities should bring the perpetrators of killings to justice.

Among the resolutions was that Muslims should collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs), as it said were indications that many Muslims were yet to collect their cards.

The communiqué read, “Nigerians should freely choose the best candidates and vote those who will lead with justice, fairness and righteousness in line with our usual prayer, ‘O Allah, make the best of us our leaders, and don’t make the worst of us our leaders. Don’t make us, on account of our sins, be under those who will neither fear you nor be compassionate to us.’

“The federal government should ensure free, fair, peaceful and credible general elections in 2023 by providing the necessary environment through adequate voter mobilisation and appropriate security measures.

“Nigerians should evolve a standard process of electing not only eligible candidates, but also suitable ones because the eligibility criteria are too general to the extent that unsuitable people ultimately get elected to the positions of authority. In essence, there is an urgent need to raise the bar of leadership in Nigeria beyond basic qualifications.”

NSCIA added, “The committee condemned the negative activities of ‘accidental Imams’ and ‘emergency Sheikhs’ who promote hatred, disunity and dissension in their mosques and on the social media. The committee also warned Muslims to be wary of their antics as they do not represent Islam or Muslims.

“As Muslims are being profiled and killed in what appears as ethno-religious cleansing in the South-east by some non-Muslims, which is evident in the recent confessions by some individuals, the committee called on security agencies to do more to protect the lives and properties of Muslims and bring the perpetrators of such killings to justice.”

In addition, the committee expressed concern about the general insecurity manifesting in terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and ritual killings all over country.

It urged the federal and state governments to work harder on securing Nigeria from the rampaging criminals.

NSCIA further urged the federal government to make available financial empowerment opportunities in the country and thereby tackle the challenges of poverty and unemployment in the society. It also enjoined Muslims to key into the available opportunities.

“More Muslims should establish private universities for the educational development of Nigeria as a whole and Islam, in particular, because Muslim students in some private universities owned by non-Muslims are being subjected to religious victimisation and oppression,” it added.

NSCIA noted that the Supreme Court of Nigeria had affirmed the legality, legitimacy and rights of Muslims to hijab in compliance with Section 38, Subsection 1 of the Nigerian Constitution (as amended in 2011), which states, “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (either alone or in community with others, and in public and or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching practice and observance.”

Therefore, it urged Muslim women to feel free to wear their hijab, “and no person or institution should discriminate against them.”

Prominent Muslim leaders, who were at the meeting, included Deputy President General, NSCIA (South), Alhaji Rasaki Oladejo; Secretary General, NSCIA, Oloyede; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alh. Yayale Ahmed; Secretary-General of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Dr. Khalid Aliyu; Executive Secretary of the Muslim Ummah of South-west Nigeria (MUSWEN), Professor Muslih T.  Yahaya; many Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs); senior academics; traditional rulers; top executives; and other eminent personalities and leaders of Islamic organisations from different parts of the country.

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