A prominent civil Rights platform – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) said it was illegal and unconstitutional for President Muhammadu Buhari to attend a summit exclusively convoked for Islamic nations under the aegis of organization of Islamic cooperation(OIC).
It is the contention of the Rights advocacy body that Nigeria’s presence in such a body offends sections 10 and 42 of the 1999 constitution since Nigeria is a secular or at least a multi-religious nation.
Besides, the Rights group noted that the fact that the former military dictator General Ibrahim Badamosi Babagida who suspended the then constitution and used military fiat to railroad the country into an organization that is fundamentally set up to protect, promote and nurture only pro-Islamic religious issues, makes it imperative that the action of enrolling Nigeria remains a nullity just as it is contradictory that Nigeria whose grund norm in section 10 specifically prohibits Nigeria from doing things that promotes one religion as a state religion would continue to disobey the constitution only because a military despot without regard for the constitution enrolled Nigeria as a member of OIC makes Nigeria a laughing stock before the international community. HURIWA says it was for constitutional purity that it is making the strategic intervention to demand for the right cause of action in line with the Constitution to be followed.
“We condemn the continuous patronage, attendance and participation of Nigeria in OIC when Nigeria is either an Arab state nor is it a Moslem nation. Nigeria is made up of Moslems, Christians, Atheists and adherents of African traditional religions. We must preserve, promote and defend Mr. Constitution”.
“How does it feel that only about 24 hours ago, the current president took an oath of allegiance to defend Nigerian constitution, only for him to immediately turn his back on the same constitution which in section 10 rules out the possibility of elevating any religion as state religion even as section 42 speaks and indeed outlaws policies that are discriminatory?”.
Section 10 says : “The Government of the Federation or a State shall not adopt any religion as State Religion”.
Section 42 (1) states thus: “A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
(a) Be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or (b) Be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.”
HURIWA recalled that under its status, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations with a membership of 57 states spread over four continents. The Organization is the collective voice of the Muslim world. It endeavors to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.
HURIWA recalled that the Organization was established upon a decision of the historical summit which took place in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco on 12th Rajab 1389 Hijra (25 September 1969) following what the Arabs regards rightly or wrongly as the criminal arson of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.
Also, HURIWA recalled that the Organization has the singular honor to galvanize the Ummah into a unified body and have actively represented the Muslims by espousing all causes close to the hearts of over 1.5 billion Muslims of the world. The Organization has consultative and cooperative relations with the UN and other inter-governmental organizations to protect the vital interests of the Muslims and to work for the settlement of conflicts and disputes involving Member States. In safeguarding the true values of Islam and the Muslims, the organization has taken various steps to remove misperceptions and has strongly advocated elimination of discrimination against Muslims in all forms and manifestations.”
HURIWA said whilst it may be the right thing for the organised body of Moslems in Nigeria like the Islamic Council of Nigeria to join such a religious body to protect the religious affairs of their members but at the same time abide by the Nigerian constitution, it remains illegal and unconstitutional for Nigeria as a SECULAR and Multi -Religious geopolitical entity to maintain such a membership relationship with a religious body. “It is like Nigeria becoming a member of the Roman Curia in the Vatican City”.
HURIWA said it is good enough that the Country maintain diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia as well as all other Islamic nations but it is illegal to identify Nigeria as either an Arab nation or an Islamic nation.