*Photo: Gov Babajide Sanwo-Olu *
The Lagos State Chapter of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has called on the education authorities in Lagos State to desist from “luring innocent and unsuspecting” Muslim Students across the six educational districts of the State to the annual Christian programme of the founder of the Christ Embassy, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, under the guise of fake humanitarian programmes.
In a press statement released on Thursday, 30th November, 2023 by the Chairman of MURIC in Lagos State, Dr Busari Muhammad Jamiu Ademola, the Islamic human rights group bemoaned the attitude of the officers of the ministry of education in luring students to the program through official invitation.
The Statement reads:
“We are deeply worried by the incessant luring of innocent Muslim Students to church programmes, particularly that of Pastor Chris Oyakhilome. The programme as reliably investigated is sponsored by the cleric who, in conjunction with the officials of the Lagos State ministry of education, arranged the transportation of students to the venue. The students irrespective of their faiths are ferried to Christian programmes and deceived with gifts.
“This deceitful event has been on for more than five years. This year’s program which is slated for December 3, 2023 is coined as ‘Invitation to Host Students in Commemoration of Birthday of their Principal, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome’ through a school named Teens Voice Academy Lagos.
“This is unbelievable and unspeakable of ministry officials directing principals of public schools in the six districts to arrange students for such an event. Where is the correlation? On whose directives is this happening? Is Pastor Oyakhilome now the owner of Lagos State public schools? LASG has sold out Lagos to Oyakhilome.
“Exempli gratia, a memo signed and distributed by one Mrs Oyegbile, K.O on behalf of TG/PS of District I, Agege, was circulated this week to school principals. According to the memo, four venues (Sango Senior, Keke Senior, Oba Sanni Komolafe Youth center and Palmtime Resorts) have been designated as meeting points for students to converge en route the venue. The circular also announced Mr Oladiti Oladele Olaitan as the programme coordinator whose contact (telephone number included) could be reached for any assistance.
“It is then crystal clear that the organizers and certain elements in the ministry, via educational districts are behind this programme to adulterate the faith of innocent Muslim children with Christian ideologies.
“To this end, MURIC strongly condemns the involvement of state paraphernalia in a pastor’s birthday celebration. It is hero-worshiping taken too far.
“LASG has no right whatsoever to use students of public schools for a private individual’s birthday program. While we object to using any student, whether Muslim or Christian for Oyakhilome’s party, we have serious objection to using a single Muslim student for same.
“The parents entrusted their children to LASG mainly for academic purpose, taking them out on evangelical jamboree is definitely not part of the deal. It is therefore gross abuse of trust to divert students’ attention to the birthday party of a pastor.
“School children can attend the governor’s function or that of the president of Nigeria because those are government officials. The pastor is also free to organize students of private schools to attend his birthday. We must draw a line of demarcation between clerics and public officers.
It is taking the joke too far if pastors and Imams are elevated to the level of governors and heads of state by making students of public schools to attend their birthdays. It is another form of slavery.
MURIC is therefore calling on the Lagos State Government, the State Ministry of Education and all Tutor Generals throughout the State to ensure that no single student of Lagos public schools is taken to Oyakhilome’s birthday program.
However, even if we overlook the involvement of Christian children, taking Muslim children to a private function of a Christian pastor contravenes Section 38, Sub- section 2 of Nigeria 1999 Nigeria Constitution as amended which states that ‘No person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or to take part in or attend any religious ceremony or observance if such instruction, ceremony or observance relates to a religion other than his own, or religion not approved by his parent or guardian’.
“We advise the concerned authorities to desist from this unconstitutional acts, and stop luring Muslim children to Christian programmes. The Muslim teachers also are not to be coerced by school principals and assigned as supervisors to accompany students to church programmes.
“Lastly, we remind our leaders that religion is not by cohesion, our children must be spared of this neo-colonial practice. We are all Nigerians, live peacefully and let live!!!