The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has responded to Christian Association of Nigeria’s concerns with the Sukuk bond.

CAN recently stated that the Federal Government is trying to Islamise the country with the financial loan.

Speaking with Punch, the president of the group and Professor of Eschatology, Ishaq Akintola, gave several reasons why this is untrue.

He also compared CAN’s behaviour to that of a spoilt child, adding that more Christians have bought Sukuk bonds.

In his words, “CAN knows what it is doing. Its false alarms are deliberate… It is laughable that CAN encouraged a bishop to mobilise street protests against Islamic banking in the South-East…

“CAN is like a spoilt child who has everything and needs nothing else. But like a dog in the manger, CAN will rather stand between its deprived Muslim neighbours and their needs. Being a smart alec, CAN makes so much noise about being the victim of Islamisation in order to turn attention away from its overbearing posture and the gross imbalance in the socioeconomic life between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria. These are issues that border on restructuring. Those clamouring for restructuring and those who are considering areas of common ground should pay attention to this. We (Muslims) are shortchanged in the present democratic setting. We have been marginalised. What is our gain from independence? Where is our dividend of democracy?”

On the issue of Islamisation, Akintola said, “We cannot worship freely on Friday whereas Christians are free from dawn to dusk on Saturday and Sunday. Muslim families are scattered like wild oats on Friday…

“But every Christian is free to go to church on Sunday with his wife and children. This is a gross imbalance. Yet, CAN is shouting ‘Islamisation!’ Islamisation my foot! However, the good news is that Muslims are making their demands in an atmosphere of decorum and respect for law and order. We are not issuing threats. We are not engaging in violence. We are simply putting our cards on the table in a civilised manner.

“Islamisation agenda is a mirage. CAN should sing another song — this one is rickety and weather-beaten. Who is Islamising who? Muslims have participated in hundreds of Westo-Christian bonds. Yet, we are not Christianised. So, how can anybody become Islamised via Sukuk? For the avoidance of doubt, the Federal Government’s N100bn Sukuk was oversubscribed by N5bn. The interesting aspect is that more Christians participated in it than Muslims!"

“CAN is just rabble-rousing. Nigerian Christians are not deceived. Just yesterday (Thursday), the government announced that the Sukuk fund would be spent on 25 federal roads. How can anybody stand between a facility designed to enhance the growth of infrastructure? Who is the enemy of progress? We don’t blame Nigerian Christians. They are simple folks. The problem is the Christian leadership. I mean CAN officials… It is sheer propaganda. CAN is merely whipping up anti-Muslim sentiments. The leadership of the umbrella body of Nigerian Christians is Islamophobic.”

“We understand why CAN must make a noise. It has to justify sitting on billions of naira in tithes from members across the country. It is a game of numbers. It is also a gimmick for securing and sustaining CAN leadership’s affluence in the face of abject poverty, disease and squalor among its followers in particular and the masses in general."

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He added that “Meeting CAN separately on Sukuk is unnecessary. A public statement on the rationale for Sukuk plus a massive public enlightenment campaign on it is better.”

The MURIC president also made a recommendation to CAN. He urged the Christians to offer its own bond to the FG. In his words, “We are not opposed to Christians enjoying any aspect of their religious rights. We have said it several times and we will repeat it now: even apart from Christian bonds, let CAN tell the Federal Government all the things it wants. We will not play dog in the manger over CAN’s demands. It is the Muslims who have always been making demands because the status quo suits Christians.

“The Christians need little or nothing from the present system because the British colonialists who were essentially Christians operated a Christian system in Nigeria after tyrannically and undemocratically stopping all Islamic systems in the land. The Christians have not been asking for anything because they were made comfortable by the British. For the avoidance of doubt, let us ask CAN clearly: ‘What do you want? We are now in the court of public opinion. What religious rights do you want from the Federal Government? Say it loud and clear so that you can allow Nigerians to sleep soundly without cries of Islamisation.’

This sentiment has been echoed by a popular lawyer, Femi Falana, according to Sahara Reporters.

Speaking at the strategic dialogue roundtable organized by the Social Economic Rights and Accountability (SERAP) in Lagos, he advised CAN to ‘Christianise’ Nigeria.

“I am challenging CAN to Christianize Nigerians; Christianize us by setting up interest-free banks…” he said.

Mr Falana went on to describe the bond as a legitimate means for the government to generate funds, adding that this is already practised in other countries.

Religious leaders were also advised to stop using religion as a way to set Nigerians against each other.