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‘Christians Enjoy More Holidays In Nigeria Than Muslims’ —- MURIC Sends Fresh Demands To Buhari

Gbemileke Ajayi

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As Nigerian Christians join their counterparts throughout the world to celebrate the New Year on Wednesday, 1st January 2020, the Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has alleged lopsidedness, partiality and persecution of Muslims in the manner the Nigerian government dishes out its holidays.

Rising from an emergency meeting where it deliberated on the latest allegation of persecution by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), MURIC insisted that the last public holiday, which was declared by the Federal Government on 1st January 2020, has exposed CAN as a body which enjoys shedding crocodile tears.

MURIC’s stand was contained in a press statement released on Friday, signed by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.

MURIC said in the statement, “CAN claims it is being persecuted but fails to substantiate its allegation in concrete terms. However, the last holiday of Wednesday, 1st January 2020 which is an annual event has exposed CAN. Nigerian Christians enjoy the New Year holiday on the 1st of January every year even without asking for it because that was the arrangement made by the British colonial master. But CAN still claims ‘persecution’ even though it is placed at an advantaged position.

“Nigerian Christians have 1st January to enjoy their first day of the year. Nobody can deny that this happened two days ago. But when the Muslims’ first day of the year comes (1st Muharram), there will be no holiday. When will CAN put itself in the Muslims’ shoes? Or rather when, indeed, will the Nigerian government give the Muslims what the colonial master denied them but gave the Christians? When will the Muslims get justice in this country? Here is a persecution of Muslims that even CAN cannot deny. It happened just two days ago and we all saw it? Or is the granting of a holiday for a Christian occasion and the denial of the same to Muslims another form of persecution of CAN?

“Christians have five out of the eight holidays enjoyed by Nigerians. Muslims have three only. Yet CAN claims persecution. Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year Day, Easter Monday and Good Friday are all for Christians. We dare CAN to deny it. Are these not concrete privileges enjoyed by Christians? Are the five holidays we mention here mere fallacies? Muslims only have three, namely, Id al-Kabir, Id al-Fitr and Maulud an-Nabiyy. Is there any mathematical inexactitude in our calculation? Should CAN be complaining at all with this kind of setting?

“We make bold to say that CAN knows what it is doing. The Christian body knows that it has an edge over the Muslims as it enjoys everything it needs and even more. CAN knows that it is the Muslims who are denied certain fundamental human rights but it is determined to maintain the status quo. The modus operandi adopted by CAN to ensure that Muslims never get their rights is to perpetually cry out with claims of persecution and also to oppose every attempt to give Muslims their rights.

“This game played itself out when Shariah was introduced in some Northern states from 1979 onwards. They claimed it was an attempt to Islamise Nigeria. Shariah was introduced and nobody changed the country’s nomenclature to the ‘Islamic Republic of Nigeria’. CAN did the same thing when Islamic banking was about to be introduced. Cries of Islamisation rented the air. Islamic banking arrived but we are yet to see how it has Islamised anyone. This was repeated on the issue of Sukuk (Islamic bonds) and both Christians and Muslims are benefiting from the Islamic Sukuk today.

“MURIC will not be deterred from pursuing Islamic liberation theology to a logical conclusion in Nigeria. We assert clearly, categorically and unequivocally that Muslims are in bondage in this country. Why should one group get all the honey in the land while the other is ignored? We demand equal rights and justice. We demand parity, particularly on the issue of holidays. Christian 1st January is just 24 hours and the Muslim 1st Muharram is no less. Why should the Federal Government recognize one and deny the other?

“Just two days ago, we joined other Nigerians in sending goodwill messages to our Christian neighbours. Governments at federal and state levels felicitated with Nigerians on that occasion. Parastatals and important dignitaries also congratulated Nigerians. MURIC also issued a statement greeting Christians in Nigeria. We do this every year despite the fact that our own 1st Muharram is not recognized. But nobody will remember Muslims on 1st Muharram. Is this fair?

“‘When beggars die, there are no comets seen. The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes…’ William Shakespeare was right when he put those words on the lips of Calpunia, the wife of Julius Caeser as she begged her husband not to venture out on the ides of March. Isn’t this very germane to the issue on ground? The drums are rolled out by the government on 1st January. But they are conspiratorially silent on 1st Muharram. Is this justice? Are we really working for enduring peace in this country? What have the Muslims done to deserve this treatment?

“It is important to note that even the three holidays enjoyed by Muslims were reluctantly given after several years of post-independence. There were no holidays for Islamic festivals in colonial days. It was that bad.

“To add salt to injury, the Federal Government has never responded in spite of a deluge of petitions received from Muslims. MURIC has been demanding the 1st Muharram holiday since its formation in 1994 (26 years). It is highly provocative. It is a dereliction of duty on the part of the government. A father who gives preferential treatment to its children is not uniting the family. Is government waiting until the demand snowballs into another struggle? MURIC will not partake in that. But what does it cost the government to take a bold stand on this matter? It is not about the Buhari government per se. Successive administrations have failed to address the issue.

“Already, some state governments have recognized 1st Muharram, mostly from the North. Osun under Rauf Aregbesola (current Minister of Internal Affairs) and Oyo under Isiaka Ajimobi also did and heaven did not fall. So what stops the Federal Government from taking the cue? By the way, Muslims in those two states of the South West have written the names of those two former governors in letters of gold.

“The question now is: how does President Muhammadu Buhari want to be remembered by Nigerian Muslims? Can the declaration of 1st Muharram as a public holiday be a drift towards Islamisation? Predictably, yes, particularly by CAN. But we can take the wind out of their sail by placing 1st January and 1st Muharram parri passu. The public no longer takes CAN serious anyway.

“MURIC wishes to put the Federal Government on notice. The next 1st Muharram will fall on Thursday, 20th August 2020. The government has a whole eight months to plan and prepare its mind. It also has an extra three days in the third week in August to declare Thursday a holiday in recognition of 1st Muharram. To be or not to be? That is the question. MURIC does not issue an ultimatum. Neither is a threat in our character. We are a dialogue-loving body. But the government’s body language will tell Nigerian Muslims what to do and whoever thinks the Muslims of Nigeria are still the same as they were five years ago will be making a gross miscalculation.

“As we sign out, we remind the Federal Government that it is high time it listened to the Muslims’ demand for the declaration of 1st Muharram as a public holiday in parity with 1st January public holiday. CAN has no moral right to claim persecution as Nigerian Christians enjoy five holidays while their Muslim counterparts have three only. FG should promote unity and patriotism by treating all equally. Neither should the government allow one group to lord it over the other.”

BIG STORY

Blood In The Temple: How 100-Level UNIBEN Undergraduate Was Gang-Raped, Killed Inside Redeemed Church [PHOTOS & VIDEO]

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The Edo State Police Command said it had commenced an investigation into the death of a 100-level student of the University of Benin, Uwaila Omozuwa.

It was learnt that Uwaila, who went to read in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Miracle Sanctuary Mega Parish, Edo Province 10, Ikpoba Hill area of Benin City on May 27, 2020, was allegedly raped and assaulted by assailants.

It was gathered that the men forced their way into the church, where they raped and struck Uwaila in the head with a fire extinguisher.

Our correspondent learnt that the church security guard, who had just resumed duty, wanted to collect the key to the church when he discovered that someone was already inside.

The guard, who found Uwaila in a pool of blood, reportedly called for help and the victim was rushed to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital.

It was gathered that the victim did not recover from her state of unconsciousness until she died on Saturday.

Our correspondent learnt that the incident was reported at the Oregbeni Police Station.

The victim’s mother, in a video posted by @town_crierng on Twitter, lamented that Uwaila died despite buying all the drugs asked to purchase.

She said, “I saw a friend, who came to visit me, off and before I came back, someone had called my telephone thrice. When I got back, my children told me that a church member, Mummy Osunla, had called me and when I called her back, she asked where I was and told me that I should come and that she did not know what had happened to my daughter.

“I ran to the place but before I got there, they already took her to a private hospital and when I saw my daughter, I cried. They raped her; the dress she was wearing that morning was white, but it had turned to red; all her body was full of blood. Her mouth and eyes were tied; the hoodlums used a fire extinguisher to hit her head, which left a deep cut.

“We were asked to take her for an X-ray on her head; I did not have money but my church members tried and money was raised and we bought all the drugs that we were asked to buy, but Uwa could not make it. She was unable to say anything till she died; it was just tears that were coming out from her eyes.”

The victim’s father, in the same video, stated that he was unable to celebrate the victim’s admission into the university before she died after seeking admission for five years.

“It was not a mistake; it was not a fault; it was not stubbornness for her to go to the church to study. She had been going there for several years. She struggled for five years before she gained admission into UNIBEN. I was waiting to celebrate her admission before she died.”

Also reacting to the incident, the elder sister of the victim, Mrs Sandra Ogeamie, called for justice on behalf of the family.

She stated, “I called one of my younger sisters on the day of the incident because it had been long since I heard from her, but she did not pick her call at first and when she picked it, she told me that she was in the hospital because our younger sister was raped.

“I was shocked but I kept thinking that the situation could be managed, but she called me yesterday (Saturday) that Uwaila was dead and when I asked her what happened, I was told that she went to read inside the church and some guys came in and raped her and used a fire extinguisher to smash her head.

“Please we need justice because the new pastor in charge of the parish is saying the incident did not happen inside the church. Please fight for me.”

Nigerian actress, Adesua Etomi-Wellington, while calling for justice for Uwaila, tweeted, “I can’t post the pictures I’ve seen of Uwa. She went to church to study. She was 22. She was brutally raped and beaten. The culprits are on the run. Uwa could have been any of us. #JusticeForUwa.”

A former Director-General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dr Joe Abah, called on the police to bring the culprits to justice.

“This is utterly condemnable. The @PoliceNG must ensure that there is #JusticeForUwa,” he wrote.

A Twitter account that creates content for women, @fabWomanOnline tweeted, “She thought she was in the safest place on Earth (a church) and yet not only was she raped, she was also killed in the most brutalizing way ever. The culprits must face the law #JusticeForUwa.”

The Edo State Police Public Relations Officer, Chidi Nwabuzor, who said the command would investigate the incident, stated that the deceased’s father reported a case of assault to the police.

Nwabuzor said, “The command got to know about the incident today (Sunday); according to the DPO of the Oregbeni Police Station, CSP Lawrence, the father of the deceased reported a case of assault occasioning harm against some hoodlums, who attacked the daughter, while she was in church, and got her injured.

“According to the DPO, he immediately mobilised his detectives to the scene, where they took the decease alive to hospital and after some days, she passed away. Unfortunately, they were unable to get a statement from her, because she was in a state of unconsciousness and there was no eyewitness to say what happened.

“The command will take up the investigation; we will first look at what the father reported to the police and see if it will lead us to something else.”

The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, on his Twitter handle, @GovernorObaseki, urged the police to investigate the incident and ensure that the culprits were brought to justice.

He tweeted, “I have ordered the Nigeria Police Force (@PoliceNG) to thoroughly investigate the circumstances that led to the death of Miss Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, a 100-level student of the University of Benin (UNIBEN).

“The @PoliceNG has been mandated to identify, arrest and prosecute anyone found culpable in her death. The Violence Against Persons (VAP) Law is in effect in our state. #JusticeForUwa.

“Using this law, we would ensure to investigate what exactly transpired and deal decisively with those found complicit in the dastardly act, whoever they might be. #JusticeForUwa.”

Reacting to the incident, the management of UNIBEN also condemned the action of the assailants.

The Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Lilian Salami, in a statement by the Public Relations Officer, Benedicta Ehanire, stated that the assailants’ action must not be condoned by society.

The statement read, “The management of the University of Benin has received with great shock the news of the rape and subsequent murder of one of its students, Miss Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, 100-level, Microbiology Department.

“Reacting on behalf of management, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Lilian Salami, said the actions are condemnable and should not be condoned by any society. She said the current pandemic was already hard on everyone and that compounding it with inflicting additional pain on any family is a wicked act.

“While commiserating with the bereaved family on the loss of their dear daughter, Prof. Salami prayed to God to grant her soul peaceful rest. The vice-chancellor then used the opportunity to call on students of the institution and indeed all young people to be wary of the company they keep and the places they visit. Meanwhile, a delegation has been sent by the university’s management to commiserate with the bereaved family.”

Meanwhile, the RCCG has condoled the family of the victim and urged the police to get to the root of the matter and bring the killers to justice.

The Head, Media and Public Relations, RCCG, Pastor Olaitan Olubiyi, told PUNCH Metro that the victim was a chorister in the parish.

Olubiyi said, “The church wishes to commiserate with the family because it is a great loss; somebody has lost a daughter and a promising member of the family. We are saddened by the occurrence.

“The lady was a member of the choir in one of our parishes and from the report we have, the lady had been going to collect the key to the church to read her books, which she had been using for her private study.

“On May 27, 2020, she did the same thing and it was not until the night guard was to resume that the incident was discovered. Nobody knew what happened. When the guard resumed, he found the lady in a pool of her blood half-naked. The parents were called in, the police were informed and everybody was notified.

“Eventually, she was taken from one hospital to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. And we learnt that she gave up last night (Saturday). It is really sad for us because we have lost a great member and we pray that the Lord will help the family at this time.”

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BIG STORY

Kings of Finance: GTBank Named Africa’s Most Admired Finance Brand

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Guaranty Trust Bank plc has been ranked Africa’s Most Admired Finance Brand in the 10th-anniversary rankings of Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands, the pre-eminent survey and ranking of the Top 100 admired brands in Africa. The rankings were announced in a novel global virtual event and will be published in the June issue of the African Business magazine.

In a special report examining the results of the 2020 survey, the founder of Brand Africa, Thebe Ikalafeng, said GTBank’s “clever marketing, global presence and some of its flagship food and fashion events have undoubtedly helped make it a fixture of daily life in some of its key markets, especially its home base Nigeria.” He added that the bank, which recently won plaudits for building a 110-bed Care Centre in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, “has taken banking and finance to the people.”

GTBank has long been regarded as one of Africa’s outstanding brands and enjoys a massive youth following thanks to its innovative and forward-thinking approach to financial services and customer engagement. It currently commands the largest social media following amongst all financial institutions in Africa and in 2019, the Bank hosted over 700,000 people at its consumer-focused events, GTBank Food and Drink Festival and The GTBank Fashion Weekend, among them dozens of business leaders and industry experts from around the world.

In 2019, GTBank removed all banking charges for young undergraduates under the age of 25 on its GTCrea8 Account Package. The move was unprecedented in the financial services sector but not unusual for a bank that had pioneered Zero-Naira Account Opening in the country, and in which people over the age of 65 also bank for free. GTBank is also blazing the trail in digital technologies; after leading the USSD banking revolution in Nigeria with its 737 Service, the bank is driving the digitization of consumer lending with Quick Credit, a first-of-its-kind digital lending product that gives individuals and small businesses instant, real-time access to loans anytime, anywhere via their mobile phones.

Brand Africa’s ranking of GTBank as Africa’s Most Admired Finance Brand is only one of its many accolades. In 2019, the was recognized as the Best Bank in Africa and Best Bank in Nigeria, by the Euromoney Magazine and the Best Banking Group and Best Retail Bank Nigeria by World Finance Magazine. In the same year, the Bank also dominated the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Electronic Payment Incentive Scheme (EPIS) Efficiency Awards for the third year in a row, taking home 8 of the 12 honours for banks at the forefront of driving the digitalization of financial services.

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19-Year-Old Yabatech Student Arrested Over Salawa Abeni’s Nude Pictures

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The operatives of Rapid Response Squad (RRS) have arrested a 19-year-old National Diploma holder of Yaba College of Technology, Lagos as the brain behind the blackmail of Queen Salawa Abeni with nude photographs.

The suspect, Olufowoke Oladunjoye Emmanuel, a resident of Brentfield Avenue, Peace Estate, Magboro, Ogun State, was picked up by the Decoy Team of Rapid Response Squad last week Thursday after three days of monitoring him.

The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu had in the wake of *the* attempt by an unknown individual to blackmail Alhaja Salawa Abeni sometime in April 2020, directed the Commander, Rapid Response Squad, DCP Olatunji Disu to fish out the suspect.

After a technical diagnosis of the complaint, the Decoy Team narrowed down on the suspect a few days later.

Sources close to the team disclosed that the suspect couldn’t be picked because of the prevalence of COVID-19.

The suspect in his statement to the police confessed to having been the mastermind behind the ploy to publish some nude pictures of Waka Queen in exchange for money, adding that he was alone in the scheme.

The suspect, a 2017/2018 Electrical Engineering student of Yabatech, disclosed that he saw the nude pictures in a memory card which he picked up on the floor in Yabatech sometime in November 2019.

He added that after downloading the nude photographs of Salawa Abeni on his phone, he picked up her mobile number from her Instagram page.

“On 1st of April, 2020, I chatted her up and also called her after sending a few of the photos to her online.

My intention was to negotiate with her for a few bucks and for me to destroy the photographs.

I thought everything was going on fine until the following day when I heard the news of the blackmail over the radio. I was with my mother. She was even cursing the blackmailer unknown to her that I was the brain behind it.

I immediately sneaked out, destroyed the memory card, and threw my mobile phone and SIM card into a nearby wetland in Magboro. Since then, I never mentioned it to anyone and called Madam Salawa Abeni about it again”, he disclosed.

Commenting on the arrest, CP Hakeem Odumosu stated that no individual would be allowed to commit a crime in Lagos from any State or escape to other States in Nigeria to evade arrest.

He advised guardians to monitor their wards, emphasizing that the internet is a fertile ground for opportunities but the State Command would not allow criminals to use it as an avenue to exploit law-abiding Lagosians.

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