The office of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has been inundated with complaints of religious persecution in Christian private universities. Despite the humongous amount being charged as school fees and other miscellaneous charges in those private tertiary institutions, Muslim students are marked for stigmatization, contemptuous treatment and forceful conversion.
MURIC strongly condemns these neo-colonialist propensities. Tyranny is least expected in cassock. It is quite demeaning, totally unbecoming and outrightly preposterous. Conscienceless power is subjugating powerless conscience.
This ugly development is a dangerous dimension at this stage of Nigeria’s history. By subjecting Muslim students to such mental and spiritual torture, Christian private universities in Nigeria are reminding us of the sad experience encountered by Nigerian Muslims at the advent of colonialism when Western education was used as a weapon to forcefully convert Muslims to Christianity. It is neo-colonialism per se. Such repression of Muslim students in Christian institutions gives anti-Western education ideologues like Boko Haram a good excuse to justify their stand.
Muslim students in various Christian private universities have reported how they are forced to attend church on Sunday. They are compelled to go to the chapel for various Christian-oriented programmes. A leading Christian private university rusticated a Muslim student who happened to be the president of the students’ union on a flimsy excuse. Female Muslim students who have been using hijab before they were admitted are disallowed from using it the moment they pay their school fees and conclude other registration formalities whereas such rules are not rolled out earlier.
This failure to stipulate the anti-Muslim rules before admitting candidates amounts to deliberate entrapment of Muslim youths, deception and gross failure to fulfill a social contract. It is morally deficient. Christian private universities are being used by Christian organizations to seize by the bends what they could not get by the straights. The Nigerian public is being taken for a wild ride and, for Muslim parents and their children and wards, it is like taking a ‘one-chance’ bus.
Although the owners of Christian private universities can only be blamed for oppressing Muslim students and seeking conversions by both fair and foul means, we single out Muslim parents, their children and wards who go out of their way to enroll in Christian private universities. What exactly do they expect? Why didn’t they choose Islamic private universities where their freedom of religion can be guaranteed? Was there any force majeure?
Christian institutions in Nigeria have not been known to respect the fundamental human rights of Muslims. This is a big minus on the part of Nigerian Christendom. God is a God of justice and fairness. Those who worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth. The use of foul means to serve God runs counter to this ideal. It is ungodly to ‘trick’ fellow homo sapiens into an educational institution where they will be subjected to spiritual enslavement for at least four years or more. It is spiritual corruption to give unto God what was immorally and unjustly obtained. It is shameful.
MURIC charges the National Universities Commission (NUC) to investigate this serious allegation made against Christian private universities in Nigeria. NUC cannot afford to stand akimbo while thousands of Muslim students are spiritually raped. Were those universities licenced to forcefully convert Muslim students to Christianity?
NUC must protect those innocent students more so since denial of religious right under any guise is a breach of Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. NUC has a duty to call universities to order when they roll out Draconian rules. MURIC is in possession of documents and data spelling out the atrocities committed by Christian private universities and we are ready to supply them if NUC has the political will to perform its duty.
We also invite the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to take a critical look at these allegations which boarder on infringement on fundamental human rights. MURIC will soon forward incriminating documents in its possession to the commission. Although we have refrained from naming the implicated Christian universities in this press statement, such details will be unveiled when we submit our evidence.
We appeal to the Federal Government not only to establish more universities but also to increase its funding of existing ones to enable them to admit more students and provide qualitative education. State universities are implored to make adequate funding of those institutions established by them a major priority. We call for the establishment of more Islamic universities. Nigerian Muslims are reminded that proceeds from the annual hajj exercise can be used to establish Islamic universities in all the six geo-political zones.
In our concluding remarks, we warn Muslim parents and guardians to stop seeking admission for their children and wards in Christian private universities. We jog the consciences of the authorities of Christian universities who suppress the religious rights of Muslim students to open the gates of Babylon and ‘Let My People Go’.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)