The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) which has the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, as its chairman has rejected the reconstituted National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) list put together by the federal government.
According to the NSCIA, the body and the Sultan were not consulted before the list was drawn. It therefore asked the senate to reject the list of NAHCON members which Pres. Jonathan submitted to it for approval.
The strongly worded petition by the NSCIA was signed on May 9 by its Secretary-General, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, who said that Pres. Jonathan acted in bad faith in rushing to reconstitute NAHCON without due process. Oloyede alleged that the president’s move was “symptomatic of a sinister plan to cause friction and disaffection within the rank and file of the Nigerian Muslim community while covering up some irregularities”.
It asked the Senate to stay action on the confirmation of the new list of NAHCON members.
The petition reads in part: “The attention of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has been drawn, through the press, to the submission of some names as members of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to the Senate for screening and approval.
“The NSCIA wishes to register its opposition to, and disapproval of, the hurried process that engendered the re-constitution of the commission. We want to aver that though the tenure of the Chairman and some (not all) current members of the Commission ends three or four days to the end of the tenure of the outgoing government, it is baffling that there is an unusual urgency to re-constitute it at this material time.
“It would have been proper to ask a Permanent Commissioner whose tenure still subsists beyond 2015 to act as Chairman after the 24th of May to allow for statutory consultation and filling of vacancies in the 19-member Commission. This has been the case on several occasions in other Commissions under this current government. We recall the examples of Security and Exchange Commission, Federal Character Commission, FIRS and PENCOM, instead of this hurried and improper re-constitution of the Hajj Commission, some four or five months away from Hajj.
“The way and manner in which the re-constitution is done smack of bad faith and symptomatic of a sinister plan to cause friction and disaffection within the rank and file of the Nigerian Muslim Community while covering up some irregularities. Even if it is not illegal, technically, to re-constitute the Commission, it is immoral and unprocedural, more so that the Commission is charged with administration of a sensitive assignment about which over 80 million Nigeria Muslims are concerned.”
The council raised some posers for Jonathan to address to justify his action.
The NSCIA added: “It has always been the practice to consult with the leadership of the NSCIA pursuant to Section 3(2) of the NAHCON Act, which stipulates “due consultation” as expected for the agency charged with the huge responsibility of handling an Islamic rite of this magnitude. The government failed and neglected to comply with this fundamental statutory provision in this nomination.
“It is intriguing that it is this same Federal Government that designated the President-General of the NSCIA and Sultan of Sokoto, H.E. Alh. Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, as the Permanent Amirul Hajj. Yet, the NSCIA is aware that he was not informed, not to talk of being consulted in carrying out the latest exercise.
“It is apparent that there is a double standard in dealing with Muslims as we learn on good authority (and as stipulated in Section 2 (2) of the NCPC Act) that the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) was consulted before the constitution of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC). This is evident in the person of the Executive Secretary and the members of the Commission, who are evidently representative of the various interest and groups within Christendom in Nigeria.
“We deem the action of the Federal Government as calculated attempt to embarrass the Nigerian Muslim community or to slight it for whatever offence it is deemed to have committed.
“ It is puzzling that the same Government which recently contacted the leadership of the NSCIA with a proposal (which we unequivocally supported) to disengage from direct Hajj activities, is sidelining the same NSCIA on the issue of Hajj management. Despite the high level of integrity and firmness of the current Chairman of the Commission, the direct involvement of Federal Government on Hajj has been anything salutary.”
The council urged the Senate to stay action on the confirmation of the NAHCON members as presented by the President.
It said: “It is against the backdrop of the foregoing that we urge the Senate under your astute leadership not to lend its weight to this flagrant abuse of due process. “We are also aware that a diligent check of the Senate records will reveal one or two other embarrassing facts about the list hurriedly put together without proper and necessary scrutiny.
“The NSCIA has chosen to appeal for non-approval of the list to avoid a situation where the respected Senate will deceived into approving what should not be approved if all relevant facts are sought and obtained.
“ Fortunately, there are checks and balances in our democracy, as represented in this case by the legislature.
“We are, therefore, optimistic that the impunity that the latest step engenders would not be allowed to stand or be dignified by your esteemed Senate.”