By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
An Islamic human rights organisation, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has kicked against the dates picked by the Nigerian Law School for the screening of its call-to-bar candidates. The Law School had picked 19th and 21st to screen the fresh law graduates. MURIC described the dates as anti-Muslim.
This was contained in a statement issued by the group’s director, Professor Ishaq Akintola on Thursday, 15th July, 2021.
The statement reads:
“The Nigerian Law School has scheduled the screening exercise for its fresh graduates for 19th and 21st July, 2021. This is in spite of the widely publicised dates of the Muslim festival of Id Al-Adha (Salah) which are 19th, 20th and 21st July, 2021. The message on the Law School portal showed that 19th and 21st July 2021 are the screening dates while 28th and 29th July are for call to bar.
“Considering the fact that 20th is now known to be the real date of Salah and the Federal Government is certain to declare two days as holidays, the two screening dates (19th and 21st July) picked by the Law School are too close to call. Afterall, Muslim faithfuls are expected to travel to their home states inorder to meet members of their families just as Christians do during Christmas.
“By sandwiching Salah day between its two screening dates, Law School has deliberately created inconvenience for its fresh Muslim graduates as well as its Muslim staff. The school has also encroached upon the public holiday declared by the Federal Government.
“It is a most unfriendly, uncharitable and unhospitable act. It is undisguised manifestation of malice and an open declaration of hostility against Nigerian Muslims. How on earth are Muslims involved in the screening exercise expected to join their families to mark the Salah, particularly those who have to travel long distances?
“But are there no other options? Were those options explored at all? Must the screenings be done on 19th and 21st July unfailingly? Were there no Muslims among those who fixed the date? Did anyone call attention to the implications of the chosen dates for the Nigerian Muslim population?
“These are questions begging for answers and only the Council of Legal Education can provide answers. We therefore appeal to the Council to do its findings and call the Law School to order.
“The action of the Law School constitutes a gross violation of Allah-given fundamental human rights of Muslim candidates who are expected to attend the screening. It is unlawful, illegal, illegitimate and unconstitutional to fix any official function, exercise, examination or screening on a public holiday. Law School can be challenged in a court of competent jurisdiction by any Muslim candidate who missed the screening, particularly on 21st July, 2021 because it is a public holiday. Any screening done on a recognised public holiday can be declared null, void and of no validity whatsoever.
“We therefore call on Muslim candidates affected by this draconian screening schedule not to panic. We advise them to simply ignore the screening of 21st July and enjoy their Salah holiday. It is their right and their right is their right. Nobody, not even ‘almighty’ Law School, can deprive them of it. We charge the Muslim lawyers to dust their law books and be prepared for a long legal battle on this matter. MURIC may have to challenge Law School in court if any Muslim candidate is illegally disqualified.
“Gone are those days when Nigerian Muslims were led by their noses. Today, we refuse to be intimidated. We will no longer kowtow to the pooh-pooh of our oppressors. We will use every legitimate means available to secure freedom for millions of Nigerian Muslims wallowing under the repression of their religious freedom.
“Law School must know where Nigerian Muslims are coming from. Our Salah days were taken from us by the colonial master. No holidays were declared for Muslim festivals during the days of Christian British colonial rule. But Christmas was marked with holidays, funfare, pomp and pageantry, all at the expense of tax payers and from our common patrimony.
“What Nigerian Muslims suffered under the Christian British imperialists is akin to what the blacks went through in apartheid South Africa. Nigerian Muslims went to school on Salah days. Public offices were opened for work and no Muslim civil servant dared to be absent. We began to secure our civil liberties gradually after independence.
“The struggle for liberty for Nigerian Muslims is the greatest test for democracy in contemporary Nigeria. Meanwhile, the genuineness of our democratic claims will depend on whether or not, and the extent to which, Nigerian elites are willing to allow Muslims to enjoy the dividends of democracy.
“We therefore urge the Law School to join hands with us in the struggle for freedom, equal rights, justice and equity. This can only be done if all statkeholders in the Nigerian Project jettison all vestiges of colonial mentality. Anything else will not fly. Our message to the Law School is ‘Don’t sandwich Salah day. Let the Muslims go’.”