The leader of one of Nigeria’s leading faith-based organisations, the Muslim Rights’ Concern, (MURIC), Prof. Ishaq Akintola, has strongly condemned the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)’s brutality on innocent Nigerians, affirming that preservation of life is one of the five cardinal principles of the Shariah.
There has been continuous protests since last week as youths, including celebrities stormed major cities calling for an end of SARS.
The protest, hashtag(ged) #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 youth’s 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).
While speaking with Muslim News in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, Prof. Ishaq Akintola of MURIC strongly condemned reported cases of police brutality on innocent Nigerians, affirming that preservation of life is one of the five cardinal principles of the Shariah.
According to him, “I am strongly against the cases of harassment, intimidation, brutality and unprofessional approach of the Nigerian Police especially the SARS division. It is very wrong, unconstitutional, illegal, uncivil and unlawful. In fact, it is a crime against humanity.
“Preservation of life is one of the five things the shariah has come to protect, therefore, Islam values and cherishes life so it should not be treated improperly by anybody,” he noted.
Breaking his silence on why his organisation which has always been at the forefront of fighting for the rights of the Muslims in Nigeria, didn’t join #EndSARS protest, the Varsity Don said he is an advocate of #ReformSARS.
According to him, The Nigerian constitution allows citizens embark on peaceful protests. Protest is also an extension of dialogue.
Likewise, peaceful protest is also allowed in Islam so the protesters are not wrong by staging a protest. But MURIC as an Islamic organisation didn’t participate in the #EndSARS protest because we are for #ReformSARS.
“The agency such as SARS shouldn’t have been scrapped because of the excesses of some of their personnel; whereas these exccesses and human rights violations aren’t limited to SARS officials alone, it cuts across the entire Police force. You don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. That’s why MURIC didn’t support #EndSARS. We are for #ReformSARS and the entire police force. The FG also needs to reform the police recruitment process.
He however said despite the fact that his organisation and other notable Islamic organisations didn’t join the protest, some Muslims actively participated.
Prof. Akintola identified Aisha Yesufu, who actively participated in the protest and has shown great resilience and energy despite being in hijab.
“Her participation also reiterates the fact that the hijab has never, is not and will never be a limitation. Therefore, the fact that we have some Muslims and Christians at the forefront of the protest should suffice,” he added.
While frowning at killing of innocent Nigerians, Prof. Akintola also condemned violent demonstration, specifically citing the Ogbomosho and Oyo scenario where the King, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade was reportedly chased out of his palace by #EndSARS protesters, while hosting important guests.
Prof. Akintola called on protesters to leave the streets and continue to follow up on the #reformpolice, before people with ulterior motives start to hijack the protests and use it for their own selfish interests.
“However, my own opinion is that since the government has announced the dissolution of SARS (and later introduced another police outfit), the protesters should leave the streets before people with ulterior motives start to hijack the protests and use it for their own selfish interests.”
“Why are they still on the streets after the President, his VP, and the IGP have all given their word? My advice is for the protesters to leave the streets if they don’t have ulterior motives. I advice them to end the protest and follow up with the government reform process,” he added.
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