ISLAMIC human rights organisation Muslim Rights Concern (Muric) has called on lawmakers in several states to impeach their governors for defying the lockdown order and allowing Eid-el-Fitr prayers to take place within their domains.
On Sunday, Muslims worldwide celebrated the end of the Ramadan fasting month but unlike in normal times, this year’s festivities were muted. Due to the global lockdown introduced to combat the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, mosques were closed and the Muslim faithful prayed in the confines of their houses.
In Nigeria, the presidential taskforce on Covid-19, the inspector-general of police and the sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, the president of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), urged Muslims to stay at home. President Muhammadu Buhari also held a private service with his family and did not received any visitors at state house as is usually the custom.
However, despite all these warning, the governors of Kano, Borno, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Katsina and Bauchi states all defied the federal government’s pray-at-home directive. In all these states, prayer grounds were packed, with most of the faithful not observing the two metre social distancing guidelines and not wearing face masks.
Incensed at the callous disregard for public health, Muric said President Buhari must not allow the erring governors to go scot-free because their actions were grossly irresponsible. Muric director Professor Ishaq Akintola, apologized on behalf of the governors, while calling for stiff action against them.
Professor Akintola said: “We are deeply perturbed by the action of some northern state governors who goaded Muslims in their states to congregate for the Id al-Fitr prayer on Sunday 24th May, 2020 in spite of directives to the contrary. It is an act of gross irresponsibility and it is a shame that governors can play to the gallery even when it has to do with human life. This is not Islam, it is articulated religiosity.
“There must be consequences when people in positions of authority gamble with the lives of their citizens. This singular action has put the whole country in danger and we only have to wait for the next two weeks as the virus incubates for us to know the impact of the governors’ intransigence. This is how not to worship Allah.
“Neither is it about the right to celebrate a festival. Muric as a human rights body will not defend the indefensible. Islam is a religion of justice, therefore we will not bend the rules or change the goal post after the game has already started just because Muslim governors are involved this time around.
“The fact that we vowed to promote Allah-given fundamental human rights of Muslims does not mean that we would look away when Muslims do the wrong thing. After all we were all here when Christians marked Easter without fanfare, pomp and pageantry, so why can’t we as Muslims control ourselves?
“These recalcitrant governors have embarrassed Islamdom. We must admit our wrong, particularly because what we did is capable of bringing untold hardship upon the whole country.
“When did Nigerian Muslims become more Muslim than their Makkan counterparts? Why must we assemble for Eid prayers in Nigeria when Muslims in all Arab countries prayed at home? Muslims in Senegal, Gambia, Ghana and other West African countries prayed at home.
“Any lawmaker worth his salt will know that the action of the erring governors stand in contra-distinction to the provisions of Article 14 Section 2(b) of the1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which stipulates that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. In essence, the governors have committed impeachable offences.
“We, therefore, call on the state legislators to do the needful. We do not want governors who do not care about human life. The choice before the governors is this: apologise publicly or resign and pack out of the government house, otherwise your impeachment is just around the corner.”