One of the courses to be taken during the forthcoming promotion examination of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) clashes with the statutory Friday Jumu‘ah prayer. The course, DDR, which stands for Drug Demand Reduction, is scheduled for 1130 to 1330 hours (i.e. 11.30 am to 1.30 pm) on Friday 16th August, 2019. The course is billed to be taken by officers of the rank of CSN, meaning Chief Superintendent of Narcotic.
This alarm was raised by the Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), in a press statement issued by its Director and Founder, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Friday 9th August, 2019.
“They have come again. Our oppressors have come again. First, they fixed the promotion examinations close to the Salah festival. Next, they scheduled it for a period when Muslim officers who have gone for hajj will have no chance to participate. Now comes the last straw that broke the camel’s back: even those Muslim officers who are around will have to choose between taking the examination and attending Jumu‘ah prayer. This is a deliberate attempt to ensure that no Muslim of the rank of CSN will be promoted in NDLEA. It had better not be. Boss Gidahyelda Mustapha must hear this. So must Abba Kyari.
“This is the height of religious apartheid. There is nobody in this country who does not know when Muslims go for prayer on Friday. We are shocked that a major federal agency will do this. It is naïve, jejune and infantile. We are nonplussed that at a time when Europeans and Americans are announcing to participants at their conferences that special large rooms have been provided for Muslims in attendance to offer Salat, a prominent federal paramilitary unit is making it impossible for Muslims to observe the Jumu’ah prayer thereby embarking on the repression of Muslims and denying them their Allah-given fundamental human rights.
“Is the system so loose that a prominent department (and a sensitive one for that matter) will break well known rules with such reckless abandon? It is impunity taken too far. No wonder Nigerian youths and even married women are now highly tramadolised. Marijuana is now more common on the streets than ordinary cigarette. Heroine and cocaine are ten for one kobo. Why won’t they when drug officers who are supposed to watch the borders are busy laying ambush for religious rivals?
“How can officers be committed when they are denied elevation? Staff promotion in NDLEA is permanently on the hanger. There is no motivation. There are staff who have been due for promotion for more than ten or eight years and we are still counting. Yet NDLEA is trying to cut corners with the promotion of the same officers by attempting to marginalize the Muslims among them. We beg to disagree.
“Who is behind this? Who fixed the timetable for this promotion examination? Nigerian Muslims want to know. Or has NDLEA been sold to a religious fanatic? We need answers to these questions very urgently. Must full-grown officers of the NDLEA be subjected to the same ridicule that young Muslim boys and girls face in some national examinations?
“When shall we be free? Must Muslims cringe and beg from cradle to the grave in this country before they can get their sui generis rights? We said it before that Muslims are being treated like second class citizens in Nigeria. The whole system is grossly Christianised. Otherwise why must any examination spill into the Muslim worship period?
“Why didn’t NDLEA fix the examination on a Sunday? That is where the Christianisation comes in. The Christian day of worship is highly revered and respectfully set aside as a sacred day. Thou shalt not touch Sunday. But Friday is violated by every Dick and Harry. It is abused to humiliate Muslims including senior Muslim officers. They are tied down to write some repressive examinations or remain seated at endless and meaningless meetings while the Jumu‘ah prayer is being observed by other Muslim faithfuls. Is that fair? This examination timetable is capable of plunging NDLEA into a huge controversy.
“Our detractors may find these words too harsh but that is because they don’t want to hear the truth. MURIC is blunt because it has to be so. It is part of dialogue. We have no other choice than to be frank when highly placed officials who are supposed to know better flagrantly break the rules. Anyway, it is better to be bitterly blunt than to flare up and jump to the streets, killing, maiming, burning and looting. That is what we will never do. This oppression has to stop. Friday must be given its sacred status and heads of departments must stop playing God in the lives of Muslims.
“In conclusion, we appeal to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha and the Chief of Staff (SGF) to the president, Abba Kyari, to call NDLEA to order. Those who have been due for promotion for so long should be elevated before any new promotion examination can be justifiable. The SGF should see to this.
“In addition, we call for immediate postponement of the coming NDLEA promotion examination. It is repressive and lopsided. The exercise should come up only after those who travelled for hajj have returned to the country. The timetable must also be reviewed forthwith. No examination should be held during Jumu‘ah prayer. In the interest of peaceful coexistence, we demand that a new circular suspending all official engagements on Friday from 12 noon be issued by the Federal Government. This will make Friday a half working day and permanently rest the Friday question”