The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has reacted to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Muhammad Tanko’s call for constitutional amendments to accommodate some peculiarities of Shariah law which have been ignored for so long.
The CJN made the statement while declaring open the 20th Annual Judges Conference at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State, yesterday.
The CJN was represented by Justice Muhammad Danjuma, the Grand Khadi of Niger State.
MURIC backed the CJN’s suggestion, adding that the current constitution was a child of British colonial Christianisation of the country which had failed to take into consideration the multi-religious nature of the Nigerian nation.
MURIC spokes through its director, professor Ishaq Akintola, who issued a press statement to newsmen on Friday.
The statement read, “The CJN has our full backing on this. The British colonial government bequeathed a legacy of Christianisation to the Nigerian nation. Muslims were not comfortable with it but the British did not listen.
“The British did not give a damn. The Northern Muslims resisted and the British invaded the North.
“Muslim resistance was brutally broken by the ruthless massacre of thousands of Muslim freedom fighters in Hausaland, particularly in Burmi (1903) Satiru (1906) and Zinder (1917).
“Even those who surrounded were not spared as they were mowed down with machine guns. Thereafter, the British victors curtailed Islamic landmarks.
“Islam had arrived in Karnem Borno in the year 1085 (818 years before the invasion of the North by the British) during the reign of King Humi Jilmi while Christianity was first preached in 1842 (757 years after the advent of Islam) under the Agacia tree in Badagry.
“As far as we are concerned, therefore, the British who brought Christianity to Nigeria spread their religion by force after invading the North, after intimidating the South West and after subdueing the Muslims who had been practicing their faith for more than 800 years. They used excessive force against the Muslims and carried out barbaric and extra-judicial killings.
“The bombardment of Lagos in 1851 by Commodore Captain R.W. Bruce during the ‘Boiling Battle’ (Ogun Ahoyaya) and the subsequent surrender of the city was the first operation ‘shock and awe’ designed to cow Southerners. It was equally intended to send a strong message to the North.
“The booming of cannon shells and other bombs was hitherto unknown to the city. Lagos quickly put its tail between its legs like a frightened dog and other cities in the South West took the cue.
“It was a fait accompli. The Muslim population cautioned its membership against courting the ire of the colonial masters. This surrender paved the way for the creation of the Lagos Colony ten years later (1861).
“From then onwards, the city of Lagos which by 1775 had more than fifty Islamic schools opened the floodgate to the intimidation and coercion of Muslim children in colonial schools. This persecution has lasted to date.
“We have gone down the lanes of history because today was born from the wombs of yesterday. Muslims in Yorubaland put up no armed resistance to colonial invasion and forceful conversion whereas Northern Muslims died in their thousands resisting colonial invasion.
“This resulted in the bold and ruthless conversion of Muslims to Christianity in the South West whereas the colonialists exercised caution in their dealing with Northern Muslims.
“This situation also informed British adoption of indirect rule in the North. Nobody should ask MURIC to forget the history of Nigerian Muslims. Brutalisation of Muslims by the British marauders is part of our history just as the forceful abandonment of Islamic landmarks as ordered by the British Christian evangelists.
“Those who always oppose anything which is likely to benefit Muslims are urged to consider this initiative with an open mind. Constitutional amendment has all the potentials to usher in peace and tranquillity if we approach it with sincerity.
“We hope the restructuring camp will welcome the CJN’s idea because it is not going to be about Muslims demands alone but a comprehensive one. We call for objectivity in the matter.”