Armed policemen surrounded the residence of Shehu Garba, the Director of Media and Publicity of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Organization on Thursday, 12th February, 2015. As a result of the siege, Shehu Garba, who lives at the NNPC Quarters, Area 11, Abuja, could not go to the mosque for the Salat as-Subh, a mandatory early morning worship for Muslims.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is deeply worried about the recent siege mentality. We remind Nigerians that soldiers numbering about thirty (30) have been stationed very close to the Lagos residence of Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, national leader of the APC, for the past four days. Soldiers also recently desecrated the sanctity of the Imo State Government House in Owerri.
We are worried about the use of security agencies to intimidate and harass the opposition. How can elections be free and fair when security agents hound leaders of the opposition left, right and center? This siege on the opposition appears to be aimed at disorienting opposition parties to the advantage of the ruling party. These are Gestapo tactics which should not feature at all in a nascent democracy.
It is therefore clear that Nigerian security agencies are in an unholy alliance with the ruling party. Otherwise why are the security agencies always after the opposition? President Jonathan also seems to be revealing his despotic tendencies. He cannot stomach opposition. Neither can he superintend a free and fair election without being closely monitored, mentored and restrained from committing illegalities.
MURIC therefore charges the National Assembly (NASS) to be alert to its responsibilities. There are checks and balances in a democracy and NASS must move urgently to check the excesses of the Nigerian Head of State. In his recent media chat, President Jonathan refused to condemn militants (his kinsmen) who have been threatening war should Jonathan lose the election. In the same vein, the President is not willing to call overzealous security officials to order. NASS must save Jonathan from Jonathan as part of its oversight functions.
We appeal to the European Union monitors who are already in the country to pay close attention to the harassment of opposition leaders by the Nigerian security agencies. We invite the United Nations and Nigeria’s West African neighbours to quickly send their own monitors for the same purpose.
To certain quarters which are attempting to blackmail us into silence by accusing us of partisanship, we reiterate that MURIC is an apolitical, faith-based human rights organization. Our interest lies in steering Nigeria towards good governance. We are inspired by the injunction contained in Qur’an 8:24 which says, “Beware of a calamity which will not affect only those who commit the evil…”
We therefore see ourselves either as an integral part of the likely beneficiaries of good governance or possible victims of bad governance. This is why we speak up. We are also motivated by Qur’an 3:104 which says, “Let there arise among you a people inviting unto righteousness and forbidding wrongdoing.”
Available records show that we have been playing this role in Nigeria since the establishment of our organization in 1994 spanning several military and civilian regimes. We have no doubt that this role will continue in post-Jonathan years. Therefore neither the ruling party nor President Jonathan is our target. It is normal for human rights groups to focus their attention on the activities of government and the security agencies. It is all aimed at creating a better society for all.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)