By Rasheed Abubakar, AbdulQudus Abiola Ojomo and AbdulMumin AbdulQaudri
Scores of Muslim faithful in Lagos State on Wednesday, August 16, embarked on a peaceful rally to the State House of Assembly, re-affirming their rejection of the commissioners-nominees’ list of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
The list which the governor sent to the assembly for confirmation contained 39 names, of which 31 are Christians and 8 are Muslims.
Recall that the Lagos Muslim community had on Tuesday, August 8 held a world press conference where it demanded immediate reversal of the list to include 60% representation of Muslims, adding that the governor should also respect diversity in his subsequent appointments and policies.
The state government and the lawmakers ignored the prayers of the Muslim community and went ahead to screen twenty out of the 39 nominees.
The faithful representing various Muslim organisations on Wednesday thronged the State Assembly complex to protest the lopsided list and petition the lawmakers.
The peaceful rally, which began by 9:30am was coordinated by the National Missioner of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh AbdurRahman Ahmad.
Muslim News Correspondents saw the protesters carrying big banners and placards with different inscriptions, such as “Muslims Say No To Official Discrimination”, “Gov. Sanwo-Olu, Stop Marginalization of Muslims, Enough is Enough”, “Short-Changing Muslims in Administration and Political Appointments Must Stop”, among others.
• Respect diversity of Lagos population – Prof. Gbadamosi
At the rally, led by the President of the Muslim Community of Lagos State, Prof. Tajudeen Gbadamosi, a letter was read, addressed to the Speaker of Lagos House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mubashiru Obasa, urging the legislative arm of government not to endorse the lopsided commissioners’ list.
The letter stated that the list violates the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria.
“The Rt. Hon. Speaker and honorable members, we want you to note that this list from Governor Sanwo-Olu violates the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, particularly Section 14 (4) and is further strengthened by Section 192 (2) both stating as follow:
“The composition of the government of a state, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the federation.
“• 192 (2) Any appointment to the office of commissioner of the government of a state shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the House of Assembly of the State, be made by the governor of that state and in making any such appointments, the governor shall conform with the provisions of section 14 (4) of this constitution.
“With due respect, Governor Sanwo-Olu’s list violates these provisions of the constitution and we accordingly call upon this honorable house not to endorse any action that violates our national grundnorm, especially one which equally violates good conscience and natural justice,” the letter read.
Prof. Gbadamosi said the argument that Muslims have more elected officials in Lagos State is preposterous.
“This is even more so at a time when all the Six (6) governors of the southwestern states are Christians and we the Muslims do not complain about this, because we recognise that they contested for offices and won,” he noted.
“Why must Muslims in Lagos State always beg and fight for their constitutional rights, especially since Mr Sanwo-olu became governor? We recall with utmost sadness really, that until the Supreme Court ruled in favour of hijab for our school girls, successive Lagos governments never felt it should endeavor to align with the global best practice of accepting hijab in addition to abiding with the rule of law.
“The historic pro-hijab judgment was delivered in March 2022 and globally acknowledged. However, Governor Sanwo-Olu’s government in its peculiar idiosyncrasy chose to ignore this until a year later, after ceaseless pressure was mounted by well-meaning individuals.”
The president reiterates the decision of the Muslim community in Lagos State to reject the commissioners-nominees’ list of Governor Sanwo-Olu, seeking immediate reversal and review that reflects 60% in favour of Muslims.
“We the Muslims of, and in Lagos State wish to categorically state that the entire leadership of the Muslim Community of Lagos State representing various Muslim organisations, unequivocally and unanimously reject the list of commissioners-designates of Governor Sanwo-Olu and we demand a reversal and review to reflect 60% in favour of Muslims in a fresh list.
“We call on the Lagos State House of Assembly to reject the list as similarly done in the Niger State House of Assembly, where a noticeable minority Christian population demanded a reversal of the list of commissioners to reflect fairness and equity to them. We also call on you and the House of Assembly to impress on the government the need to respect the diversity of the state’s population and to appoint a more representative cabinet. We believe that this is essential for the future stability and prosperity of Lagos State.”
• Necessary steps will be taken to strengthen peace and harmony – lawmakers
The petition was received by the Chief Whip/Chairman Commissioners-Nominees Screening Committee, Hon. Mojeed Fatai Adebola, who alongside his colleagues; Hon. Jubreel AbdulKareem and Hon. Lukmon Olumo; represented the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Mubasiru Obasa.
The Lagos lawmakers appreciated the leadership of the Muslim community for expressing their grievances in a peaceful and well coordinated manner, acknowledging their unflinching support during the 2023 elections, while assuring that there would be a positive response to their request.
Hon. Adebola, who heads the screening committee, said, “We thank you, our fathers for making your agitations known. We’re assuring you that under the leadership of our head, Rt Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, we will tender your petition once we retire back to the house (same yesterday) and by the grace of God, this will bring about a favourable outcome.
“We are not oblivious of the great support you rallied around the governor during the last election. It was so instrumental to our victory and without it, maybe the story would have been different. Rest assured that we will do the needful. We are already screening them and we will do it right. We will not deny you the gains of democracy,” he noted.
He noted that the commencement of screening of the nominees was in line with the provisions of the constitution (Section 196), which stipulates that the commissioners-nominees must be screened within 21 working days.
MUSWEN, Ansar-ud-Deen, Nawair-Ud-deen, Anwar-ud-Deen speak
Leaders of some of the notable organisations in Nigeria spoke at the rally where they said the governor needed to consider the agitations of the Muslims and rework the lopsided list in appreciation of Muslims’ unwavering support during the 2023 general elections.
We’re greatly displeased with the Governor’s list: Alhaji Ebiti
Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria, MUSWEN, Deputy President, Alhaji Rafiu Ebiti thanked the lawmakers for heeding their calls to express dissatisfaction over the governor’s list.
He said, “We thank our representatives for heeding us. My message is brief. There is always a time to put a stop to discrimination and unfair treatment. We’re greatly displeased with the governor’s list, especially with our input during the last election. There was no place in the whole of Lagos where we didn’t rally support for Mr. Governor, even on the mimbar and now we’re getting this. It’s an eyesore. May Allah assist us to get fairness.”
We want justice – Dr. Sanni
In his remarks, the President of the Ansar-ud-Deen Society of Nigeria (ADS), Dr Abdulrafiu Sanni called on the lawmakers to ensure justice is done for the Muslims to get their rights in accordance with the constitution in the interest of peace in Lagos.
According to him, “We all are in accord with what was read as the petition, particularly Ansar-ud-Deen Society. God Himself upholds justice and fairness. Peace is always amiss wherever injustice and unfairness prevail because the wrath of God abides. Having said that, we plead that you ensure the prevalence of justice for the prosperity of Lagos in its entirety.”
Scrutinise and rework on Sanwo-Olu’s list – Alhaji Ojelade
National President of Anwar-ul Islam Movement of Nigeria, Alhaji Mubashir Adekunle Ojelade advised the lawmakers to scrutinise and rework the lopsided list in appreciation of Muslims’ unwavering support during the 2023 general elections.
“What brought us here has been well articulated by Prof. Gbadamosi in the petition. The situation before the lawmakers in the house and indeed the governor admits two possibilities – scrutiny and rework of the list or otherwise.
“It is pertinent to consider our agitations for the votes we pooled for Mr. Governor during the last election and the pledges made for Muslims. We came out openly and declared that our congregations should vote for Sanwo-Olu. We’ve never done that for any candidate in the past. It is enough reason for God to fight for us even if we don’t do anything after this.”
Nawairudeen urges Sanwo-Olu to put aside pride
The National President of Nawair-Ud-deen Society of Nigeria, Alh. Rasheed Yusuff, ably represented by Alhaji Ganiu Balogun, urged Governor Sanwo-Olu to put aside pride, rework the list and ensure adequate representation of Muslims.
According to him, We are not in agreement with the list presented by Gov. Sanwoolu to the state House of Assembly. The people of Lagos have coexisted peacefully over time without confrontations, irrespective of religious differences. The list is like a deliberate attempt to provoke the peace herein.
“The governor should please withdraw the list and ensure adequate representation of Muslims to regain the confidence the people have in him.”
Virtually all the leadership of Muslim organisations were represented at the 1 hour, 30 minutes rally which ended with a closing prayer anchored by the Grand Mufti, Conference of Islamic Organisation, CIO, Sheikh Dhikrullah Shafi’i.
Some of them were Director, Muslims Rights Concern (MURIC), Dr. Ishaq Akintola; Chief Imam, Adangba Central Mosque, Sheikh AbdurRahman Adangba; Deputy National Missioner of Nawair-ud-deen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh AbdulMajeed Ayinla; among others (the list will be updated).
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