Injustice Reigns In RSUST As Management Razes Students’ Mosque, Arrest Students

By Muhammed Abdullahi*

In Animal Farms, George Orwell symbolically captured how, in an ‘egalitarian society’ where all beings enjoy equality, some animals can actually be ‘more equal than others’. Though the world created by Orwell was vivid, some may find it illusory and a mere paperwork which cannot obtain in our modern democratic society.

Those who hold that view would perhaps do well to examine a recent incident at the River State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) before they reach a conclusion which may turn out to be myopic. Reproducing the socio-cultural circumstances in Animal Farms, the management of the RSUST on Jan. 25, 2012 institutionalized Islamophobic bias and faith-based despotism. The school allows the existence of 6 impressive churches on the campus but would not tolerate a single makeshift mosque! This was what informed the cruel demolition of the only mosque on the campus. Some students snapped the felling of the praying structure with their phones and, without doing more, they landed in police custody! Is there a better way of acting out the script of Animal Farms?
 
The destruction of the makeshift mosque is unlawful, unholy and it amounts to a brazen violation of God-given, inalienable and constitutionally guaranteed rights of the students. It infringes on the fundamental human rights of the students to freedom of religion, of expression and of association under sections 38, 39 and 40 of the Constitution respectively. Section 38 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) provides that: “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.” Prior to the actual demolition of the mosque, series of oppressive policies and discrimination have been visited on the Muslim students. The tyranny has reigned for 12 years, growing grimmer by the day.

A quick perusal of the facts of this incident and its ugly antecedents reveals that they were motivated by a morbid hatred for Islam and undue revulsion for Muslims. It is not only unpopular and draconian; it is, to be euphemistic, a reversal of civilization towards the Stone Age or the era of slavery when inhuman policies and segregation held sway. By no stretch of imagination is it justifiable and one does not require the legal erudition of Lord Denning or the historic ingenuity of Einstein to discern that the policy is an institutionalization of religious repression and fanatical intolerance.

A December 8, 2011 report of the Nation Newspaper quoted the Vice-President of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), RSUST chapter as saying: “For the past eleven years, the Muslim community has been writing frequently to the school authority to have a permanent site for worship (mosque) but their efforts were fruitless. No audience was given except on two separate occasions where threat letters were sent for the suspension of executive members of the society.”
The students sent several written requests to top societal personalities including the state governor and the Sultan to intervene in the matter and plead with the management on their behalf, but they received no help.

On March 19, 2005, the then Vice Chancellor, Prof. Simeon Achinehu ordered security officers of the school and policemen to bulldoze the marquee used by the students for worship. Some valuables owned by the Muslim students were also seized and some of these are reported unreturned yet. These incidents were happening while the Christian students have six massive churches, some of which were erected after the rejection of the numerous requests made by the Muslim students demanding that a parcel of land be allotted to them.

According to Sulaimon in the report of The Nation Newspaper, “The restructuring commenced on December 3, 2011 but to our surprise, the Director of Works came and ordered that the restructuring work should be stopped. He told us that the mosque was the only illegal thing on the campus. He threatened to demolish the structure on Monday, December 5, 2011 if he still found the structure there. He said: “I will remove the entire thing (mosque).” On Jan. 25, 2012, the threat was executed and two of the students who captured the exercise on their mobile devices were arrested. Daily Trust reported on Feb. 2 that the sum of N5000 was paid before the students were released. Indeed, the mosque – before its illicit demolition – was too poky being just 20 by 50 feet and serving more than 250 students.
 
It has been a long, dark era of tyranny, subjugation and formalized discrimination. Every single article which entrenches religious freedom for the students in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been violated. It is on record that RSUST excels as a public university where some students are ‘more equal than others’. Successive administrations have behaved like high-handed military generals in a garrison command, trampling upon the rights of the helpless Muslim students, hurting their dignity, ridiculing their faith and counting its successes by the magnitude of the torture inflicted on them. For many who might not have witnessed the untold savagery of the apartheid system in South Africa, RSUST presents an excellent opportunity for a first-hand feel of the racist segregation endured by the blacks in the then South Africa. Without being sensational, Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini would have had ample inspirations to draw from the prevailing anti-Islamic policies thriving in RSUST, if only they were still alive today.

As reported by Daily Trust Newspaper, the Public Relation Officer (PRO) of the institution, Mr. Desmond Nwosu claimed ignorance of the development. It is remarkable that he had put up the same air of phoney pretence back in April 2005 when asked by the Beacon Newspaper about the cruel demolition of the makeshift mosque. It is difficult to believe that the PRO would be oblivion of such colossal developments. Assuming he said the truth, then it follows that he was negligent, lackadaisical and incompetent to have been unaware of the incident. If he was not careless and was aware of the incidents, then he was liar.
It is saddening that in this age of rising religious intolerance and avoidable blood-letting in the name of religion, a public institution of learning which should be a citadel of civilization, a centre of ideological detachment and the hub of reformation has been converted into a replica of the Guantanamo Bay. How a venerable academic community from which values of tolerance, respect for other people’s faith and mutual understanding of human diversity ought to emanate have become a dictatorial kingdom is alarming.

This case reminds one of the avoidable sectarian and racial segregation characteristic of public institutions of learning in early 1950's in America. The prevailing policy – shamelessly called ‘separate but equal’ – entails the provision of standard schools for white children and substandard, poorly-equipped ones for black children. The black kids were not burnt like coal, not painted with tar, not stinking like pong and neither did a contact with them cause a skin stain to the white kids. Yet, they were treated like beasts, showing that the white kids were ‘more equal’. This explains why Linda Brown had to walk two miles daily to and fro her black basic school, while a white basic school was only seven blocks away from her residence. This policy reigned till the case of Brown v. Board of Education brought us the desired succour, equality and justice. The US Supreme Court had found the discriminatory practice revolting and disgraceful as it “deprive(s) the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities.” It therefore had no difficulty in declaring the racist and repugnant practice illegal and unconstitutional. Sadly, that buried practice has now been resuscitated and enthroned king in RSUST. The obnoxious policy reigns, its rules thriving and its adverse effects brewing resentment and stirring extremism.

The mellowness of the students is commendable as they have sought legal assistance to redress the colossal wrong. This piece is not a call to jungle justice or religious uproar. My motive is not to instigate or to incite to vigilante justice or thoughtless reprisal actions by the Muslim students. While the management has been utterly provocative and thoughtless, one must acknowledge that any recourse to a tactless remedial battle by the students would be counter-productive. Violence is not an option; it must fail and backfire. In fact, the objective of this piece is to point out to the school authority that religion being a touchy and sensitive phenomenon should not be turned into a monstrous tool for despotism. Religion binds us all to God Almighty. It is not a recipe for furthering the parochial interests of a few selfish and powerful persons, and it should be treated with the sanctity it deserves.

It merits mentioning that Brown’s case was not the first case that challenged the abhorrent law which legislated the controversial “separate but equal” doctrine in public schools for black and white children. In fact, it was the eleventh case to dare the 1879 Kansas law and the case dragged on for 4 full years to resolve. This shows incontrovertibly that the road to fairness, equality and justice may be rough and thorny; that injustice may live long; and cruelty may subsist for ages, but they shall all expire; they cannot enjoy a perpetual existence.

The management has unjustifiably provoked and traumatized the students for more than a decade. But for the maturity of the students, violence would have been occasioned.  For instance, the Beacon Newspaper in 2005 reported the incident under the alarming headline: “Muslim students threaten uprising at RSUST”. Emphasis here is tacitly laid on the possible reaction of the victim rather than the intolerance of the management which in fact is the root of the problem. This unconsciously deceives the unsuspecting reader into the stereotype: ‘Muslims have arrived with their terrorism again’. The students are urged to keep calm, maintain decorum and refuse to allow the management lead them into unbecoming reprisals.

Every peace-loving Nigerian must condemn these acts of religious fanaticism. We can’t afford to aggravate the already tense security situation and terrorism in the country. The management should also unconditionally restore the inherent rights of the students and refrain from fanning the embers of violence.
 
 
*Muhammed Abdullahi is a freelance writer and public commentator based in Ilorin. He writes as a concerned Nigerian. Email: mabtocomworld@yahoo.com

 
 
 

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So you can quote the

So you can quote the constitution when you feel it will work in your favour and decide to call for Sharia implementation when it's not abi? How many churches are there in ABU, BUK etc? Why do you Muslims like trouble this much? Firstly, I have noticed that wherever you have you so called mosques, you also have dirt, filth and very unhygienic environment with flies everywhere, perhaps the school is also considering the sanitary conditions that will be adversely affected should you be granted permission. 2ndly,so you Muslims know about the freedom of worship and all the quotes from the UN yet you deprive Christians their right of Stay, worship, peace in your barren North. Please take your "beautiful brains" to the almajiris and boko harams in your Zone and make yourself useful, there's plenty of work to be done.

Sentiment. Bias. Until we

Sentiment. Bias. Until we start addressing issues without primordial sentiments and with utmost objectivity we can never progress. This country is doomed, I am afraid.

Nigerian christians are the worst in the world!

Nigerian christians are the worst in world. They are intolerant & covertly want to convert all non christians to their folly of following rogue pastors blindly whose only calling is to enrich themselves at the expense of their congregation.
Their agents are everywhere, especially in the media.
The forget that not everyone is foolish & God is not bribable.
My advice to the muslims in that part of the country is to pray anywhere they find space. God will make a way for you. Any difficulty you face while trying to practise your religion will be rewarded.
Remember, the hypocritical Nigerian christians will be in the deepest pit of the hellfire unless they change their ways & start worshipping God truthfully instead of their fake pastors.
God is with those who patiently persevere. Continue to demand your rights peacefully but know the reward of God awaits you.

u stand to be corrected

I am very sad to ve heard something like this in our environment.this is souther Nigeria for God's sake.in our constitution,it is clearly stated that there is freedom of religion in all our institutions.come to south west there is nothing like that.everybody is free to practice his belief so far it doesn affect anybody.

@mohamed SHUT UP

•̸ϞƔ name is ken a core rivers boy , a graduate of ahmau bello university samaru Zaria, mohamed 9ce article but U̶̲̥̅̊ are a fool to only think in 1 direction , somE weeks ago bomb was found at RSUST back gate,in ABU zaria are christians given Τ̲̅ђε same opportunity as in RSUST were mosque found in every dept why christians were not given Τ̲̅ђε same opportunity christian are called infidel by Moslem fellowship stopped. Come mohamed or jihadist. Or wat U̶̲̥̅̊ call yourself ℓ̊ understand U̶̲̥̅̊я̲̅ plight as a yoruba moslem ℓ̊ presume ‎​U̶̲̥̅̊ are also an infidel 2 dem ‎​Ãήϑ a ready nd used tool. Why not go 2 Τ̲̅ђε north ‎​Ãήϑ see cos if dia is crisis hausa moslem will kill ‎​U̶̲̥̅̊ first just like odekunle parable Τ̲̅ђε buterfly thinks himself a bird

I just don't know what makes

I just don't know what makes these so called muslims to think that they can do whatever they like anywhere in Nigeria just because they 'own' the country. Which Christian students would ever attempt to build a makeshift church in a university in the north without approval? It serves the Niger delta right for this insult. The idiot writing this crap knows there is human rights, probably for boko haram not for thousands of christians they have been killing all over northern Nigeria. RUST should never allow such nonsense to happen. Never! Animals!

Hey Muhammed

Mister man I need to ask if you are a resident in Naija or not? The energy you display in your writing about the mere dismantling of an otherwise eyesore and dangerous erction is astonishing.
Its people of your ilk and kind that turned the Northern states of Kano, Jos and Borno into a living day hell. I am sure if you had the means, you would have done the same in that University of yours.
Please shut your trap and abide by whatever rule is in place....you guys always think you can just have your way.
Where was your erudition when your brothers killed christians and bombed them into bits...for no just cause?
Stupid religion always seeking to foment trouble. Mschew!!!!

no dialogue with boko haram

u think they are not humans. the way you treat their president in abuja. which of you will allow christians to erect make shift churches in your univeristies. let us break up. u kill christians all over and when bribed to write this rubbish u come up with all sorts of dirty things--how many christians have you people killed in the north in the name of islam? leave the university if u cannot pray at home. I dont even know why u should be admitted in that university. go to boko haram univeristy if u like

2 wrongs don't make 1 Right!

If we all condemn Boko Haram as insensate animals because of their indiscriminate bombing of Christians, particularly the Southerners and other Moslems, what makes us better when we descend to the same level as those whom we criticize?

The authorities in RSUST need to revisit their seeming policy of religious intolerance if this is indeed true as adumbrated by Abdullahi.

Tit for tat is not the right way to go at anytime. Just remember that an eye for an eye only leaves everybody blind!

thank ur stars say the no beat u join

so wat do u want us to do now. why didnt u express this ur so called injustice talk over the boko haram jihad on christians in the north abi wetin u wan call dat one. well go bk to da north and build millions of mosques even in the bush nobody go disturb u. you faceless boko haram moron. south no bi ur prayin ground shey u hear. useless fanatics

Illegality begets illegality

Look here Mohammed, you should have engaged your energy in writing for giving a permit to the Muslim Students to have a place of worship no matter how long it takes than engaging it defending illegality.

The Muslim students cannot take laws into their own hands by building the structure without an approval from the school. It is another pointer to the violent and uncompromsing nature of your religion sir. How can they start building without the permission from the school? Can Christians do that in the North before Boko Haram is unleashed on them?

You are here defending the right of Muslim Students to build illegal structure. Abeg comot for road joo.

Muhammed Abdullahi, I sure

Muhammed Abdullahi,

I sure say u bi a nija person so. Injustice in nija has never, never, ever never been punished and or sddressed. We live by injustice on a daily basis. Ok, what do you call the boko haram bombing of catholic church and, somebody was arrested for the bombing but was abaracada released from the police custody?

Solution, support the call for SNC period.

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