The Amirul Awwal (first President) of The Muslim Congress (TMC), Alhaji AbdurRazaq AbdusSalam, popularly known as Abu Baba has condemned the spate of brutality allegedly visited on citizens by police officers, especially men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
There has been continuous protests since last week as youths, including celebrities stormed major cities calling for the dissolution of SARS.
The protest, hashtagged #EndSARS has also struck global attention, with important personalities such as Arsenal player, Mesut Ozil, lending their voices in solidarity
There was also another group of Nigerians who started trending a counter campaign #ReformSARS, insisting that scrapping the police unit which is also involved in the fight against banditry and terrorism in the Northern part of the country will not end police brutality.
Muslim News, however, observed that many Islamic organisations have not either called for #EndSARS or #ReformSARS, at least publicly.
Their silence didn’t go down well with some supporters of #EndSARS campaign among the Muslim youths, who have been ‘uncharacteristically’ expressing their reservations with the revered leaders of the Islamic organisations.
They accused the scholars of partisanship, suggesting that they would have joined the protest if it were during the regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Reacting to the accusations, another section of the Muslims said it was ill-mannered and lack of Islamic moral for youngsters to call out scholars on social media without first hearing their side of the story.
Muslim News, Nigeria’s most authoritative Islamic newspaper has begun reaching out to the leaders of the organisations to hear their views on the youths’ agitations even as the Federal Government has dissolved the controversial police department and set up a new outfit, known as Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT).
AMIRUL AWWAL TMC
In his reaction, a renowned Muslim scholar, Abu Baba condemned any form of harassment and killings of innocent Nigerians, adding that caution must be observed before wading into such a contentious issue so that the wrong steps are not taken.
His words: “Many Muslim youths wanted us to react but we do not follow the multitude. You sit-down and look perfectly at the problems, and then proffer solutions.
“For example, what is SARS? Special Anti-Robbery Squad. When you bring it down, what happens to armed robbery? What happens to banditry? What happens to other crimes they’re trying to eradicate in the society?
“But people are still boiling, making emotional outbursts. This is, in fact, not the first time people have been calling for the scrapping of SARS. So, we need to let the dust settle first before speaking on the issue,” he added.
Abu Baba also added that some Islamic organisations couldn’t join the protest because the protesters have no directors and could be easily hijacked by hooodlums.
According to him, “Another major issue was that #EndSARS, like our government, lacked direction. This is obvious since it had no directors. You can imagine how Yahoo Boys hijacked the Ajah end in Lagos and some hoodlums hijacked that of Surulere end”.
The first Amir (President) of The Muslim Congress (TMC) stated that the problem with SARS is endemic, adding that there is an element of SARS in every Nigerian.
“Also, what is wrong with SARS that is not wrong with Nigerians? Not only the policemen collect bribes, military men at checkpoints collect bribes. There is another trend of bribery and corruption in the hospitals. You want to submit application in a federal government agency, they seek money. They said SARS is killing innocent people. Are Nigerians too not killing themselves? So, there is an element of SARS in every Nigerian, which needs to be reformed.
“It is as if that name SARS is what is wrong. But people are really missing the point. They should go back to the origin of SARS and trace what went wrong, then correct it. Fortunately, if our people are not lazy and docile, the man who commenced the operation of SARS, a former police commissioner Simeon Danladi Midenda, has been interviewed. He’s from the North-Central. He explained where SARS went wrong and what can be done to reform it.”
The veteran broadcaster with the Voice of Nigeria (VON) said the SARS founder’s exposition reminded him of a memorable event.
According to him, “When I was Amir (Leader) of The Muslim Congress (TMC), we were trying to set up Traffic Unit. We partnered with LASTMA officials to train our members. The only training I attended was where one man called Mr Agbomeji addressed us. He said LASTMA would run into trouble the day it is commercialised because its officials will intervene in issues that are not part of its mandate. Is that not happening?
Responding to allegations that the silence on the part of Islamic organisations was due to the love for President Buhari, Abu Baba said, “This may be so for some people, it is not so for me and Scholars that I relate with. It is true that we joined the demonstration against fuel price hike during President Jonathan’s administration. However, you need to note the following differences.”
Speaking further, “First, the goal was defined and definite. We knew why we were going out and we were fully prepared. Those who participated would recall certain elements that showed preparedness. There were other groups we worked with, Muslims and non-Muslims. We did not just meet in the public, there was an internal agreement and arrangement.
“That protest brought no hardship to the public we fought to protect. It was peaceful all through. Because its goal was defined, it ended the moment it was achieved, the demonstrators dispersed,” he noted.