The Deputy Controller General (Passport): Attention: Babandede,
Saoka village, Airport Road,
Abuja. 17th March, 2014
PETITION AGAINST THE VIOLATION OF ALLAH-GIVEN AND FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS OF MUSLIMS IN PASSPORT OFFICES IN SOUTHERN NIGERIA: THREAT TO PEACE, LAW & ORDER
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is an Islamic human rights organization. We believe that all human rights are first guaranteed by the Supreme Creator, Allah, before homo sapiens sought to incorporate them in man-made laws. Any infringement on the right of man is therefore a sin before Almighty Allah and a violation of the laws made by men.
For the avoidance of doubts, MURIC is a pacific organization. We are peace-loving, law-abiding and dialogue-prone. We detest violence and this is why our motto is: ‘Dialogue, Not Violence’.
As a major mechanism in our operations, we open dialogue with institutions, employers and agencies in order to intervene on behalf of aggrieved Muslims. This has often doused tension in Nigeria and reduced the incidence of violence.
We bring to your attention ugly incidents of wanton encroachment on Allah-given and fundamental rights of Muslims who apply for international passports in your offices, particularly in Southern Nigeria where Immigration officials engage in regular stereotyping of Muslims. They intimidate Muslims particularly at the point of taking pictures in the following ways:
- Muslim males are ordered to remove their caps;
- Imams are coerced into removing their turbans;
- Bearded Muslims are compelled to shave or trim their beards;
- Muslim women are made to remove their hijabs and
- Hijab-wearing Muslim women are ordered to draw their hijab backwards to reveal their ears.
Perhaps we should inform your good office too that such stereotyping does not occur anywhere in the North. This is paradoxical since we run one and the same constitution. We are tempted to ask what the hypocrisy is about and why are Muslims free in the North but slaves in the South and why must immigration officials don garbs of apartheid?
Who are the religious fanatics discriminating against Muslims in the immigrations department? Are Muslims not entitled to international passports in Nigeria? Must a Muslim be robbed of his religious identity before he can get one?
These violations are, to say the least, provocative, illegal and unconstitutional. They are threats to peace, law and order. Refusal to allow a Muslim to dress in Islamic fashion for the purpose of collecting an international passport constitutes a breach of Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution.
Nigeria is a signatory to the African Union Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which proclaims in Article 4, Clause 1 & 2 that “Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person.”
Ditto for the provisions of Article 18 of the United Nations Charter and Articles 9 and 14 of the European Treaty of Human Rights and Articles 18 and 19 of the Treaty of Civil and Political Rights which criminalise religious profiling.
Although there have been several cases of victimization of Muslims in Immigration offices in Southern Nigeria, we hereby present, exempli gratia, just four of such petitions and complaints which reached our office recently.
In spite of his pleas and objections, citizen Adeogun Idris, a Muslim and a Nigerian who is entitled to an international passport was coerced into trimming his beard at the Immigrations office, Ikoyi, Lagos on Tuesday, 4th March, 2014. For him and for millions of Muslims across Nigeria, it was a bitter experience, a great psychological trauma and a debilitating dehumanization.
A Muslim sister who applied for passport at Ikoyi office on Wednesday 12th March, 2014 was compelled to remove her hijab. A female member of MURIC who resides in South Africa was also forced to pull back her hijab to show her ears when she applied for the renewal of her passport.
Just a few days ago, immigration officials in Ikeja, Lagos, instructed all Muslim female applicants for passports to ensure that those wearing hijab must show their ears. This is an aberration because the ears of Muslim women must remain under their hijabs.
We remind you, sir, that Nigeria has witnessed too many religious crises with its attendant heavy toll in human and material losses. Yet these conflicts are avoidable if only Nigerians can satisfy all righteousness and do the needful in their individual places of work.
We express the fear that religious crisis will not end in this country unless something is done urgently to halt the drift of the Nigerian community into another apartheid South Africa whereby Muslims replace blacks.
While reiterating that MURIC opposes violence in all its ramifications, we assert our avowed duty to use every legitimate means (including litigation and civil actions) to stop the flagrant abuse of the Allah-given and fundamental rights of Nigerian Muslims and wanton denigration of the Muslim identity.
It is our sincere hope, however, that you will use your good office to redress all wrongs and straighten all imbalances in such a way that it becomes unnecessary for us to take further action after this petition. Consequently, we will have no other choice than to express appreciation to you for being a great and patriotic Nigerian.
Sir, please find attached the petition from citizen Adeogun Idris and his pictures showing his beard before and after he was forced to trim it at immigrations office, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Professor Ishaq Akintola
Alhaji Shehu Tijani
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),
Yahoo Group: groups.yahoo.com/group/muslimrights