Nigerian Muslims have been advised to ignore any invitation to join any new protest.
The advice was given by the Nigerian Islamic human rights organisation, Muslim Rights Concern, in a statement on Monday amid plans by some activists to relaunch the #EndSARS protest in Lagos on November 9, 2020.
The statement by MURIC’s Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, said: “The attention of MURIC has been drawn to subterranean rumblings as precursors of demonstrations. We like to remind Nigerian Muslims in particular and all citizens in general that the last experience we had during #EndSARS protests was very bitter as it pushed the country to the edge of the precipice. Protests are legitimate as long as they are peaceful but the last one was hijacked by disgruntled politicians, religious bigots and ethnic jingoists. The smoke from the burning embers can still be seen above our chimneys.
“There is undisputable evidence showing that funds for the protest were provided by people who lack integrity and whose sources of income lack credibility. These are people who have been engaging in criminal activities. They have been playing hide and seek with the police and their topmost wish has always been to get rid of all signs of law enforcement agents. Unfortunately innocent but gullible Nigerians played into their hands and became weapons of mass destruction.
“Ceteris paribus, we expected the protests to abate the moment government accepted all the five demands made by the youth but this did not happen. The demands were expanded until they became frivolous, ridiculous and irrational. The ensuing destruction of properties during the protest was too massive, enough to cause goose pimples in anyone with the milk of homo sapien compos mentis flowing in his or her veins. It is also enough to discourage another protest so soon.
“Hoodlums have been allowed to destroy facilities that coming generations should enjoy. Only the apostles of Shaytan (Satan) will be happy at the sight of more than 150 new luxurious buses and other assets of the Lagos State government burnt by hoodlums during the last protest.
“To what end? Does Governor Sanwoolu ride those buses? It is so illogical. These were buses meant for poor Lagosians. How could we allow ourselves to be deceived into destroying facilities intended to make life better for the poor? Are we fighting the masses? Nevertheless, we believe that Lagos will rise again to the chagrin of envious eyes and enemies of progress. It is for these reasons that we are calling on Nigerian Muslims in particular and other citizens in general not to join any new protest. Enough is enough.
“The Glorious Qur’an commands Muslims to join hands in righteous deeds, not for aggression and destruction. It says, ‘Join hands together in good deeds and piety. But do not join others to commit sin and aggression’ (Qur’an 5:2). This is a clear injunction directed at Muslims and it is enough for them to steer clear of any new protest. Somebody once said, ‘Fool me once, shame on you; fool me a second time, shame on me’. ‘Wisdom’, according to the Prophet (SAW), ‘is the property of believers’. We should not allow anyone to deceive us into joining a rudderless protest again.
“Our observations in the last protest are that it was mainly a southern affair. The North did not participate. This tainted it with ethnic colouration. Also, while Islamic scholars and Muslim leaders in the South West shunned the protest, Christian clergymen from the region and from the South East actively encouraged it. Igbo Christians also seized the opportunity to get rid of mosques within their domain. This gave it religious bias.
“The modus operandi of the protest also exposed the evil intention of the organisers. Police personnel were attacked. Some were killed. Many were injured. About 15 police stations were burned down in Lagos alone. Nigerians forgot that nearly every one of them has at least one relation in the police force (a son, daughter, brother, sister, cousin, nephew or in-law). Yet they allowed attacks on policemen.
“What if the next policeman attacked is your father or brother? It became apparent that the intention was to enthrone the Hobbesian state, a state of lawlessness where might is right and innocent citizens will be at the mercy of cultists, armed robbers, kidnappers and warlords. Unfortunately this is exactly what is happening in many places where police has been destabilized.
“The approach was similar to leftist-communist inclination as public and private properties were mercilessly looted and innocent citizens were dispossessed of their prized possessions. On the contrary, MURIC belongs to Rousseau’s school of thought where ‘right is might’ and where there is respect for the rule of law. Hatred for the rich is contrary to the teachings of Islam. Allah gave them their riches. We too must work hard enough and we must be contented with what we have.
“The aftermath of the attacks on policemen and their stations was general commotion. Daylight robberies occurred in Lagos in particular but there were no policemen to call. It was every man to himself. Traffic gridlocks forced motorists to remain in one spot up to three hours but there were no traffic policemen to ease the flow of traffic. As you make your bed, so you will sleep on it.
“Nigerian Muslims and, indeed, every right thinking Nigerian for that matter, should not allow this to happen again. We must not join any fresh protest under whatever guise. Leaderless protests lead to chaos. Leaderless protests come with awful intentions. We should not join them. The last demonstration has taught us a bitter lesson, namely, that it is difficult to know the true intention of any protest. They may start peacefully but graduate to violent outings.
“Our major points in this advocacy are : one, Nigerian Muslims and all reasonable citizens should avoid joining any new protest; two, destruction of public and private properties can only be the handiwork of unscrupulous and unpatriotic elements; three, Nigerians should be wary of leftist-communist revolutions which aim at violent seizure of properties of the rich and the middle class and, four, attacks on policemen and burning of police stations will only open the door for criminal activities with the attendant disruption of socio-economic life whose victims will be the poor masses.”