In a statement released late yesterday, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has accused the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazau of breaching section 10 of the Nigerian Constitution (as amended) by taking directives from a private religious leader – the Sultan of Sokoto in adjusting a national holiday to mark the Eid-el-Fitr from two to three days.
According to the statement jointly signed by the group’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, the pro-democracy group also slammed the Federal Government for creating uncertainty and causing commotion to the businesses and the private sector by the unilateral and impromptu declaration of an extension of the public holiday to mark the end of the fasting season by Muslim faithful.
HURIWA said the Nigerian Constitution clearly provided in section 10 that no particular religion should be elevated to a status of a state religion, and stressed that the wordings of the official press statement authorised by the Minister of Interior “conveys the impression that this government has tacitly adopted one of the two foreign religions as it’s administration’s official religion”, stressing that such move is absolutely unconstitutional and must be denounced forthwith.
The Rights group further stated that “it is economically suicidal for a nation on the brinks of economic recession and comatose for the political class in power at the centre to arbitrary create more national holidays which contributed next to nothing to the growth and advancement of the National economy.
The group lamented that the business community in other parts of the globe will see Nigeria as economically unstable if the political leaders are allowed to get away with the political vice and criminality of arbitrarily extending days of national public holidays at the whims and caprices of certain persons with ulterior religious sentiments.
HURIWA said it “strongly faults the aspect of the official government statement which clearly states that state institutions and officials now take directives from private leaders of religious bodies when according to the statement, the decision followed the directive by the President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, to the effect that the Ramadan fast continues on Tuesday as a result of the non-sighting of the moon.”
The group demanded “clear, concise and with constitutional precision, a Presidential explanation to Nigerians on why a private Religious leader who is not part of the democratically elected structures recognised by the nation’s grundnorm is now the person tele-guiding the Federal government on when and how to declare or modify a national activity such as the declaration of public holiday which is the statutory duty of the elected and inaugurated government.
“We are worried that at a time that President Muhammadu Buhari is accused of appointing and allocating almost 80 percent of all the strategic military and paramilitary positions to HAUSA/FULANI Moslems from the North, and at a time the entire maritime and crude oil sector are dominated by appointees by Buhari from his Northern region, the minister of Interior who recently appointed an entirely Moslem and “Northern heads of agencies under the Interior Affairs ministry is conveying this sinister impression that Islam is now the official religion.
“We condemn this total affront to constitutionalism and we caution this government to thread softly and stop creating an atmosphere of mutual disaffection and distrust which may snowball into a catastrophic national crises of monumental proportions if unchecked. We call on statesmen and women who love Nigeria to call President Muhammadu Buhari to order so he does not lead Nigeria into perdition.”