The Muslim Rights Concern has faulted a lawsuit seeking a court order to remove Arabic language on Nigerian naira notes.
Prof Ishaq Akintola, Director of MURIC, described the suit as “acrobatic religiousity” as he urged the court to strike it out.
The suit is filed by a Lagos-based lawyer, Malcolm Omirhobo, who argued that the Arabic inscription on naira notes portray Nigeria as an Islamic state contrary to the country’s constitutional status of a secular state.
The lawyer also filed a similar suit against the Nigerian Army seeking the removal of Arabic inscriptions from its logo.
The cases are being heard before Justice Mohammed Liman at the Lagos High Court.
Akintola posited that Omirhobo’s approach was not only naive but also pedestrian as it manifests acute desertification of religious tolerance.
He noted that Nigeria was not a secular but a multi-religious state.
He said, “A secular state is one that does not recognise religion as in communist states. But Nigeria recognizes all the religions in the country and the constitution also begins with the words ‘under God’. Secular states do not recognise the existence of God.
“Seeking to remove Arabic from the naira is the height of ignorance because Arabic is just a language like English or French, not a religion.
"By the way, what is on the naira is not even Arabic. It is ‘Ajami’ using Arabic letters as a form of transliteration.
"Even if Omirhobo single-handedly succeeds in removing Arabic from the naira, is he going to remove the numerals 5, 10, 100, 1000 indicating the denominations as well? If he cannot, then he still has a long way to go because even those numbers are Arabic.”
Questioning the religious basis of the suit, Akintola said Israel’s currency has Arabic inscription on it and it is accepted in Jerusalem, a centre of pilgrimage for Christians.
“Omirhobo’s argument that Arabic on naira notes portrays Nigeria as an Islamic state holds no water because if Arabic is Islam, then English is Christianity. Hence if Arabic on the naira note is Islamisation, non-Arabic letters on the same naira is Christianisation.
“By extension, if the use of Arabic is Islamisation, the use of English language in Nigeria, particularly as a lingua franca, is the mother of all christianisation,” Akintola added.
MURIC appeals to Nigerians not to allow the fearmongers and merchants of hate continue to spread fear and sow discord in the country, adding that Nigerians should “open their minds in order to avoid becoming victims of accidental civilisation or, worse still, educated illiterates”.