Muslim rights group rejects NYSC orientation date, declares it unconstitutional and anti-Muslim

Posted by News Express | 11 June 2016 | 1,973 times

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The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has rejected the new dated fixed for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) 2016/17 Batch A (Stream II) Orientation Course.

The new date was fixed for Monday, June 13, after several postponements and cancellations prompting rumours that the programme had been scrapped. The group in statement signed by its director, Ishaq Akintola, called on the authorities to postpone the programme, stressing that it is illegal to open the camp at that period.

The statement reads: “We reject this date because Muslim corpers will still be fasting at that time. It is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional for NYSC to hold camp at a time when its Muslim members will be deprived of their freedom of worship and the liberty to practice their creed without fear.

“This planned camp is exclusive, discriminatory and parochial. Official policies in this country often fail to take our cultural and religious plurality into consideration.

“Any Nigerian institution dealing with schedules and programmes particularly the NYSC whose programmes are of such magnitude is expected to consider the dates and periods of important festivals, rituals and religious practices. This should form the core of its logistics.

“It is our humble opinion that NYSC headquarters has failed in its strategic planning by allowing its next camp to clash with the Ramadan period. What happened to 21st May, 2016 which was the date earlier picked for the orientation? We do not want to believe that the shift was deliberately planned to coincide with the Ramadan season with a view to excluding prospective Muslim corpers.

“MURIC is not trying to indulge Muslim youths. Fasting is no joke and it certainly cannot be combined with the physical challenges which characterise the NYSC camp.

“Eligible Muslim graduates will definitely want to be part of the service but the obstacles standing in their way are gargantuan. Unlike the Islamophobic climate expected in an NYSC camp organised in Ramadan, what happens during Ramadan in Muslim-friendly environments is that both primary and secondary schools close for the day around 2pm.

“Lectures in tertiary institutions stop from 3pm while civil servants also leave their offices by 2pm. If Muslims are not asking the Nigerian government to do this, its agencies should not become blatant tools of oppression. The clear message we are sending to NYSC officials here is that the camp planned to begin constitutes a serious impediment to the religious observation of Muslims.

“It is exclusive, sectional and parochial. The planned camp should be put in abeyance for now in the interest of peace. A stitch in time saves nine. Muslim youths throughout the country are bitter and furious at the thought of being disallowed to fast in the month of Ramadan.

“The best which NYSC headquarters can do for Nigeria now is to postpone the camp till the end of Ramadan. This country needs peace and stability to develop. We have had enough religious crises. NYSC should not stoke another.”

MURIC also noted that eligible Muslim graduates would want to be part of the service but “the obstacles standing in their way are gargantuan.”

According to it, “Firstly, morning drills in NYSC camps are known to be rigorous and the soldiers in charge will not take excuses. Dehydration sets in later in the day particularly in the hotter regions of Nigeria. Ramadan period is therefore not the best time to hold NYSC orientation camp.

“Secondly, adequate sahuur (early morning meal taken approximately between 4am and 5.15am) cannot be guaranteed in the NYSC camp. Neither can the futuur (meal taken at sunset to break fast) be timely as camp schedules are bound to ignore and subsume this very important period.

“Thirdly, attending orientation camp and partaking in the energy-sapping activities on empty stomach is an indubitable invitation to health crisis. NYSC may therefore be inviting Muslim corpers to step on landmines in the planned orientation camp if it holds as presently scheduled.”

The fourth issue which MURIC raised is the spiritual angle. The group noted that fasting is compulsory for every Muslim adult, adding that any obstacle put in the way of Muslims to make it impossible for them to fast is an encroachment on their fundamental human right and a flagrant violation of Nigerian Constitution.

“There is more to Ramadan than ordinary fasting. That is on the surface. The whole month of Ramadan is a period of spiritual dedication. There are so many other spiritual exercises in which Muslims engage, the tafsiir (exegesis of the Qur’an) session, the taraawih (late evening supererogatory prayers) and nawaafil (night supererogatory prayers). Only the deep can call to the deep. All these cannot be possible in the NYSC camp,” MURIC said.

•Adapted from a TVC report. Photo shows a cross section of NYSC members during orientation.

Source: News Express

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