Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor was alleged to have admitted ownership of a private jet seized last weekend by South African authorities. The aircraft was stashed with $9.3 million in cash meant for arms purchase. In the same vein, the Federal Government (FG) issued a statement yesterday admitting ownership of the cash. Oritsejafor has sought to extenuate the deal by claiming that the jet was hired out by Eagle Air in which the pastor himself has “residual interest”.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is alarmed by this scandalous development. We have every reason to reject FG’s explanation and it is hereby rejected. Government is being economical with the truth. We suspect a grand conspiracy against Nigerian Muslims in this latest revelation.
Nigerian Muslims are enveloped with apprehension. All the ingredients of a plot are here for those who care to look beyond their noses. In a country in which two religions are most prominent and are hot rivals of each other, here is the national leader of a religious group who also happens to be the president’s kinsman, an undisguised Muslim hater, a man with a belligerent disposition towards his Muslim neighbours, a man who has been threatening hell and brimstone over the Boko Haram saga. Tie this to the Israeli connection, a country well known for its anti-Muslim and mass murder propensities. It raises more questions than answers.
For instance, was the intended arms purchase really meant for the Nigerian Armed Forces? What is the guaranty that it was not meant for Niger Delta militants, or Christian crusaders masquerading as Boko Haram? Afterall, under-the-table assistance for Boko Haram has been noticed in the past. Where did the arms and food drops for Boko Haram by helicopters come from? Only the Israelis are capable of doing that.
MURIC is shocked by the huge amount involved: $9.3 million! Conservatively, $1m is N163m. $9.3m is therefore N1,514,502,583.61 at the current exchange rate of N163 to $1. It is very disturbing for this to be happening in a country bedeviled by serious security challenges bordering on religious rivalry and ethnic jingoism. There is definitely something sinister about all these.
We assert that Nigerian Muslims are not safe any longer. We are not safe in the hands of Israeli military advisers breathing down the neck of the Nigerian government and encouraging it to arm the Christians to the teeth. The fate of Nigerian Muslims is therefore not certain.
We have lost confidence in FG and its security agencies, particularly with the involvement of Israel. Islamic scholars are disappearing at will all over the country. Recruitment exercises into the security outfits favour Christians even in Muslim dominated areas. President Jonathan has just concluded a national conference whose composition was lopsided and in favour of Christians. FG relies heavily on Israel, a well-known anti-Muslim country for its security matters. Palpable fear of religious cleansing has therefore gripped Muslims.
Whole Muslim communities are already being wiped out in the North East under the guise of ‘Boko Haram’. Just two months ago, 34 Muslims who were followers of Shaykh Ibrahim Alzakzaky were massacred by soldiers in Zaria and nothing has been heard of it.
MURIC calls on the National Assembly to save Nigeria from total disintegration. This jet and cash story is a scandal of monumental proportion and it must not be swept under the carpet. The National Assembly must intervene in order to calm nerves.
This is not the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob. It is the hand of President Jonathan and the voice of Oritsejafor. There is an unholy union here. An aircraft owned by a war-mongering and current national president of CAN, the cash is being claimed by a Christian-led, Muslim-repressing government, there is more to this than meets the eye. We are no longer safe.
MURIC demands the termination of all security deals with the Israelis in Aso Rock, the seat of government. It is too dangerous to involve a country like Israel, an anti-Muslim country in the security matters of a country like Nigeria, deeply polarized by religious sentiments. Only a government with an anti-Muslim agenda will do such a thing. It is time for the Israelis to be kept at bay regarding key security issues in Nigeria.
We advise President Jonathan to change his tactics, to integrate Muslims into his government, to stop the political marginalization of Muslims, to review the Christian-loaded recruitment into the security agencies, to probe the disappearance of Islamic scholars and the killing of Muslims in Zaria and to balance the sharing of the dividends of democracy between Christians and Muslims. We warn that the lopsided recruitment into the security agencies, particularly the Nigerian Army in the past three years, smacks of a more sinister plot to systematically wipe out Nigerian Muslims through extra-judicial killings.
We draw the attention of the international community to acts of pro-Christian favouritism and anti-Muslim practices of President Jonathan. The Nigerian leader is deliberately dividing his citizens along religious lines.
MURIC affirms that it seeks peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims. We are prepared to live with our neighbours.
We urge those fanning the embers of war and amassing weapons to remember the plight of Liberia, Congo, Sierra Leone, Bosnia Herzegovina, etc. The ravages of war, the sufferings of millions of innocent young and old are better imagined than experienced.
Finally, we appeal to Muslims throughout Nigeria to allow the National Assembly to wade into the matter. Meanwhile, we charge them to remain calm and law-abiding.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)