By Taiwo-Hassan Adebayo
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has given a rather ridiculous interpretation to the unfolding tragedy in Kano, suggesting that the unusual death toll in the northwestern state could be “a deliberate attempt” at decimating the population of Muslims in Nigeria.
Kano State has seen a spike in mystery deaths in one week amid COVID-19 threats.
With scant resources nationally and low capacity to test, authorities are yet to determine if COVID-19 caused the deaths.
Public concerns have arisen over the situation in the state, which now appears helpless, with Governor Abdullahi Ganduje accusing the Federal Government of neglect.
In a statement on Monday, MURIC Director, Ishaq Akintola, lamented the unusual deaths, saying Kano needed help urgently, and then surprisingly brought a religious angle to the matter, warning of a threat to the “majority status” Nigerian Muslims enjoy “in the area of demography.”
“More disturbing is the rumour that the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in the state has locked up its offices and its officials are not responding to distress calls,” the MURIC director said.
“The only testing centre in Kano which is situated at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital has also been allegedly locked up. So where did NCDC get its figure on Kano? Something is fishy here. We are surprised that testing centres are almost nonexistent in the North.
“Is this a deliberate attempt at debilitating Northern population with its attendant impact on Muslim majority population in the country?
“We, therefore, demand an inquiry into circumstances surrounding the alleged closure of NCDC office in Kano State as well as the paucity of testing centres in the whole North.
“Nigerian Muslims are currently enjoying a majority status in the area of demography. We must avoid anything capable of decimating our population.
“We urge Kano citizens to strictly obey rules set by health officials, particularly social distancing, washing hands regularly with soap, using sanitizers and staying at home. You must break the cycle of this killer virus.
“Above all, the government must be vicious to be triumphant. Violators of lockdown rules must be dealt with according to the law while the lockdown on Kano must not be lifted until the rate of death slows down to a reasonable level.”
Mr Akintola is a professor and founder of MURIC, which he runs, according to his personal website, for “protection and promotion of the rights of Muslims in Nigeria.”
But contrary to his claim, there is no data indicating which religion has more followers in Nigeria. The country had its last census in 2006 and during that headcount, the National Population Commission did not collect data on religious affiliations.
Mr Akintola has a reputation for using MURIC to make alarmist claims, some of them false. In January, he tried to drive Muslims against Amotekun, a popular south-west initiate to combat insecurity. He tagged the initiative “an ostensibly anti-Muslim security network (coming) into operation in Yorubaland.”
Many Nigerians, including Muslims, have repeatedly denounced Mr Akintola’s MURIC rhetoric, warning him to rise above bigotry and instead promote harmonious co-existence by adherents of all religions as espoused by the Holy Quran.