An Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has waded into the controversy surrounding the recent allegation of christianisation levelled against Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The group related what it says it knows about the Vice President and insists on truth, fairness and objectivity.
MURIC’s opinion was expressed in a press statement issued by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Wednesday, 17th November, 2021.
The group said, “A certain document alleging christianisation on the part of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was circulated last week and we decided to investigate. This is what the Glorious Qur’an 49:6 recommends for Muslims in such circumstances. We should not just believe everything we hear or read in these days of fake news. We should investigate in order to get to the root of the matter before taking a stand.
“We were actually surprised when certain facts were revealed to us during our investigation. We may not belong to the VP’s camp in any way, either politically or in matters of creed, but MURIC must consistently hold on to the truth.
“Blackmail, character assassination, fake news and disinformation are not in the character of Muslims. It has never been part of us. Hurting the innocent is equally alien to our DNA. Instead of hanging their actions on the necks of their adversaries, Muslims own up when they are the culprits. They prefer to be punished in this world in order to escape from the punishment of the Hereafter.
“It is our oppressors who always make sure that they are the first to cry out when indeed they are the aggressors. No true Islamic group will engage in mischief, lies, deceit and intrigues. Genuine Islamic groups are transparent. You can read them just as you read a book.
“It is these characteristics that have been nagging at our conscience since the controversy surrounding the allegation of christianisation levelled against Vice President Osinbajo began. The great Shaykh Uthman Bin Fudi said ‘Conscience is like a wound, only truth can heal it’. Our conscience was jogged and it is only by telling the world what we know that we can have rest of mind.
“During our investigation, we stumbled on an article written by a female Muslim presidential aide in the VP’s office. The article, which surfaced recently on social media, affirmed the presence of 18 Muslim officials in Osinbajo’s office. The onus is on those who accused the VP of christianisation to prove that some or all of those Muslim names in the VP’s office were fabricated to convince Nigerian Muslims that the VP is neither a hater nor an oppressor of Muslims.
“However, an opportunity to confirm one of the claims made in the article defending the VP came our way just by chance and we feel compelled by principle to share the information since we are stakeholders. Nations are built by stakeholders who speak the truth. On the other hand, they are destroyed by those who withhold the same truth.
“The opportunity we refer to occurred way back in 2018 or 2019. It provided a concrete and undeniable evidence which we witnessed by ourselves as a group and it confirmed that Mr. Abdul Rahman Ipaye, a Muslim and a former commissioner in Lagos State who was mentioned in the article as the highest staff in the VP’s office is, indeed, a bona fide staff of Osinbajo.
“What happened was that the director of MURIC was invited to deliver a lecture at an Islamic event organized by the League of Imams, Ikeja branch. We stand to be corrected but at least it was organized by an Ikeja-based Islamic organisation. The programme was held in one of the popular hotels in Ikeja, Lagos. We also remember that Dr. Saheed Timehin, another lecturer from the Lagos State University, delivered the second lecture at the event.
“It was after we arrived at the venue that we learnt that VP Osinbajo was to be the chairman of the occasion or the special guest of honour. We felt that the organisers had committed a fatal mistake by inviting Christian and a pastor for that matter. We thought the VP would not come and if at all he would honour them, he would send a representative. But we were wrong. Yemi Osinbajo was there physically.
“He also gave the organisers so much time after the programme because we remember him inviting about six Muslim leaders to what looked like a conference room. The director of MURIC was one of them. He asked them to table whatever they wanted the Federal Government (FG) to do for their organisations.
“Each leader made his group’s requests. We remember vividly that the request made by MURIC was that FG should free the 54 innocent soldiers who were serving a ten year jail sentence. The Vice President told the director of MURIC to quickly forward a petition to his office in Abuja. The petition was forwarded within three days.
“This is our only personal experience with the VP. We never met him again since then. As usual, the director of MURIC did not attend that lecture alone. He was accompanied by about five members and they all saw the VP that day though they were not in the conference room for the private discussion.
“We can also confirm that the VP was accompanied by the most senior staff in his office, Mr. Abdul Rahman Ipaye, who was mentioned in the article written in defence of the VP. In fact it was Mr. Ipaye who called a week later to confirm that our petition on the 54 soldiers had been received by the VP. This can at least confirm that the VP has Muslim staff in his office.
“MURIC is known for raising its voice against those who oppress Muslims but we do not wish to be known for remaining silent when we see Christians who accommodate Muslims. Objectivity demands that we speak up for the good Christian who accommodates Muslims. This is what we are doing today so that our consciences can rest.
“Nigerians already know our stand regarding the politics of the land come 2023, It is a principled stand but that does not stop us from speaking up in support of the truth. Afterall we are not politicians who feel no qualms withholding facts or calling black white.
“Our position can be likened to that of a man who was present where the death of somebody occurred. He saw that the man stumbled and fell. No man was near him. But an innocent man who was standing several meters away was later accused of pushing the deceased to his death and was being tried for murder. This man has a duty to tell the jury what he witnessed or live with the heavy burden on his conscience till he dies.
“MURIC has no connection whatsoever with the VP. Therefore, we are not doing this because we are close or because we have a deal. The director of MURIC will not take a political appointment. In fact, just a few weeks ago, we had cause to publicly accuse Osinbajo of involvement in the FG’s attempt to demolish the Islamic City on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. We claimed that he was acting as proxy for the Redeemed Camp. But the VP has denied any involvement in that. We have to give him the benefit of doubt.
“We must speak up when a Christian does the right thing. That is objectivity. That is fairness. That is humanity. That is Islam. Speaking up for Muslims alone but closing our eyes when a Christian performs righteous deeds is not fairness. We reject selective activism.
“Allah will ask us yaom al-Qiyamah if we hide this testimony just because the man being accused today is a Christian. Neither should MURIC sweep the truth under the carpet and pretend that it knows nothing simply because the group does not share the same political ideology with the VP. We accused the VP a few weeks ago of being behind FG’s plan to demolish the Islamic city on Lagos –Ibadan Expressway but he has denied any knowledge of it.
“Having political differences is not a crime, neither is it a sin before Allah. But to allow an innocent man suffer the pangs of perjury when speaking the truth by those who have some facts may help in vindicating him is punishable by Allah. We prefer to tell the bitter truth and be mocked by homo sapiens in this world than to face Allah’s punishment in al-Akhirah for hiding the truth.
“Our findings are not exhaustive. Neither do they foreclose further inputs from other Islamic organisations and individual Muslims. But they are without prejudice to our stand on major issues in the political arena. We are already committed to another project. Our major concern is that political and religious differences apart, an innocent man should not be crucified simply because he is a Christian. We insist on truth, fairness and objectivity.”