24th June, 2019
MURIC DEMANDS JUSTICE FOR CITIZEN MAHMUD
Citizen Mahmud Muhammed Katun has cried out over the discriminatory treatment bordering on religious apartheid allegedly meted out to him by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) since 1st February, 2016.
According to the complainant, he was appointed officer (1) on grade level 4 with the generation department of NDPHC. His letter of appointment Ref: NDPHC/NIPP/HR/1187/2015 was dated November 18, 2015. He resigned his job as strictly required in the letter of appointment only to be denied resumption because he wore a beard and therefore looked like a radical Muslim.
According to the letter written to the company by his lawyer dated 24th February, 2017, “He was told by the General Manager Human Resources to give him some time to enable him carry out security investigations about his person to find out whether he was a religious fanatic based on his appearance because of his beards which portrayed him as a Muslim.”
In a letter dated 2nd May, 2017, the company’s lawyer requested that all correspondences on the matter should be addressed to him. Not satisfied, citizen Mahmud reacted by sending a petition on the matter to the Federal Ministry of Justice on 4th March, 2019. The ministry acknowledged his petition with a letter dated 2nd May, 2017 ref No. PEI/CRD/4304/1/8 assuring him that the issue was receiving its attention.
Meanwhile the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has thrown its weight behind citizen Mahmud. In a press statement issued by its Director and Founder, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Monday, 24th June, 2019, the human rights organization described the company’s action as callous, unsavory and detestable.
“NDPHC’s treatment of citizen Mahmud is despicable. It should be condemned by all right-thinking Nigerians and all lovers of justice, fairness and equity. It is callous, unsavory and detestable. The company asked him to resign as a condition of offer of appointment. He did but was denied resumption of duty simply because he has a beard. This is criminal profiling. It is another bad example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is unacceptable.
“Nigerians can now see the problem with their country. Citizen Mahmud received the letter of interview on 30th October, 2015. He attended the interview on 3rd November, 2015. He was found competent and so he collected a letter of appointment on 7th December, 2015 yet he was denied the same job when he tried to resume duty on 1st February, 2016.
“We have no doubt that the human resources manager has supplanted him with another incompetent person, probably of another faith. Citizen Mahmud attended the job interview with his beard on 3rd November, 2015 and nothing was said about it at that stage. How can the beard become an issue at the point of resumption of duty? Jobs are being brandished in places of worship. Referrals are only acceptable if they come from religious leaders. Who did this to Nigeria?
“Thousands of qualified Muslims are victims of stigmatization. They are denied jobs on account of their faith. They are oppressed. They have been forced to the foot of the pyramid of poverty. Excellence is being sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity. Who cursed Nigeria?
“MURIC charges the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to invoke Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in this matter as a deterrent to those who use their positions to profile and victimise people of other faiths.
“For the sake of microscopic clarity, Section 42 provides that
(1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government (or its agencies-addition ours), to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinions are not made subject.
“We also demand a full investigation of the action of the General Manager Human Resources in this matter. It is our contention that he has abused his office contrary to Section 13 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act (1991) which provides that ‘a public officer shall not do or direct to be done, in abuse of his office, any act prejudicial to the rights of any person knowing that such act is unlawful or contrary to any government policy’
“The deafening silence of civil society over constant stereotyping of Nigerian Muslims is more than disturbing. Fundamental human rights must be for all. It is therefore hypocritical to practice selective human rights activism. Muslims are also human beings and our hearts bleed as Nigerian elites turn the blind eye when Muslims are victimized but shed crocodile tears when others cry wolf where there is none. Elite conspiracy is therefore Nigeria’s major problem.
“We remind Nigerians that justice is the soul of peace. No one can deny one and still get the other. In spite of our unflinching faith in dialogue and our rejection of violence, we still believe that a country where a particular religious group is constantly victimized and ridiculed cannot expect peace at all times.
“On a final note, we demand justice for citizen Mahmud. This man has remained jobless since 1st February, 2016 when he attempted to resume work. He must be fully compensated. NDPHC must be made to pay him his full salary and all other entitlements from 1st February, 2016 (which was the day he must be assumed to have resumed work) to date. In addition, that particular human resources manager must face the full wrath of the law.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)