TMC blasts CAN, says reaction to Sukuk irresponsible, retrogressive, ignoble…

The Muslim Congress (TMC) a foremost Islamic organisation in Nigeria has berated the recent reaction of the Christian Association of Nigeria to the Federal Government recently issued Sukuk (non-interest lease asset facilities), describing the action as ‘irresponsible, retrogressive, ill-informed and ignoble’.

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This is coming after the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and the Muslim Rights Concern accused CAN of pathological hatred for Islam, and advised the Christian body to uphold truthfulness, honour and tolerance in the overall interest of Nigeria and citizens.

The Muslim Rights Concern particularly scolded CAN for mischief and playing ‘Dog in the Manger’, asking CAN to mind its business and come up with alternative to Nigeria’s economic problems rather than engage in fruitless criticisms. MURIC considers CAN’s position not only demeaning infantile, petty and overbearing but also spiteful and egocentric.

Renaissance recalled that CAN accused the Muhammadu Buhari-led Government of plots to sell Nigeria to Arabs and ‘Islamise’ the nation through the backdoor, using the Sukuk Islamic bond as handle.

In a statement issued on Tuesday in Abuja through its General Secretary, Rev. Musa Asake, the Christian body called on the Federal Government to without delay abrogate the laws and framework behind the bond, vowing to seek legal redress should government fail to do that.

However, TMC in its Rejoinder to CAN’s vituperations, asked the Christian association to eschew ‘propaganda, lies and deceits’ to ensure continued peaceful co-existence of all religions and tribes in Nigeria.

The full text of the TMC press release is produced below:

Rejoinder: CAN’S Reaction to FG Sukuk Bond: Irresponsible, Retrogressive, Ill-Informed and Ignoble

The Muslim Congress (TMC) like other patriotic interest groups in Nigeria is disturbed by the irresponsible, retrogressive, ill-informed and ignoble press release of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in which the body asserted that Sukuk issuance is unconstitutional and that the whole idea is an attempt to sell Nigeria through the back door. By who and to whom? We don’t know. It is time that CAN, with its propaganda, lies and deceits, which have over the years become its trademarks be corrected in order that it does not succeed in its vigorous campaign to destabilise the nation.

In retrospect, CAN’s opposition to the reformist regime of President Muhammadu Buhari, as against apparent support for the regime of President Goodluck Jonathan creates serious doubt as to whether the body is a political or religious organisation. In our opinion, it is a political group masquerading as an umbrella religious body. It could not have been a coincidence that the purported press release came out at a time when the nation is dousing the chaotic tension created by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). The elements behind this sensitive press release were calculative, tactical and diabolical seeking to provoke the Muslims into heating up the already heated polity!

If CAN is genuinely peace-loving, its leadership should be praising the ingenuity of the bankers and financial experts that developed the Sukuk bond as a potent instrument for rejuvenating, redeveloping and revitalising the nation’s damaged economy. Unfortunately, the body went into its phobic and paranoid mood, naming the innovative exercise of funds mobilisation for infrastructural development as attempts to ‘Islamise’ Nigeria. Is CAN a patriot or a spoiler?

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We are bold to say that, CAN’s activities in Nigeria is to force Islam and Muslims into extinction through its relentless media war on Islamic values and value-system, even where reality dictates that such values are global best practices. It lost court battles against Hijab in Osun and Lagos States. And now that the unproductive, divisive and self-imposed antics of the leadership of CAN is assuming a dangerous dimension with labeling anything which reflects Islam as inimical, it is high time the body is placed under security watch, if the nation is to enjoy relative peace from needless tensions borne out of ethno-religious and pathological hatred of Islam and Muslims.

The Christian body is always quick to link Boko Haram sect and herdsmen to Islam and Muslims, while it closes its eyes to militancy of IPOB & Niger-Delta, immoralities, thefts, human trafficking and money laundering and other crimes perpetrated by its members including precipitating the collapse of corporate organisations to buy jets for the “Men of God”?

CAN’s false campaigns and propaganda against Islam and Muslims has historically engendered hate, calumny, and has led to communities going at daggers drawn against one another. Any studious observer of events in the North-Central Nigeria would readily see a direct correlation between CAN inflammatory remarks and the rise in ethno-religious conflicts in the region. CAN as a body has promoted ethnic and religious bigotry in our body polity with the promotion of concepts such as Christian/Muslims, indigenes/settlers, and farmers/herdsmen which have pitted people who have lived together for decades, if not centuries against one another.

In recent time, the Nigerian Christian Elders Forum (NCEF), an offshoot of CAN was in the papers recycling the same false claims of Islamisation of the country. It is rather a sad commentary on the image of the nation that such a gathering of supposedly elderly men or ‘elder statesmen’ would make statements devoid of wisdom and rationality.

It is astonishing to us that in today’s world where information is practically at the finger-tips of all, CAN still feigns ignorance of the global accolade and reach of Islamic finance. European countries with a combination of Christian and secularist values such as Germany, the UK and also Australia have Islamic finance flourishing and growing from strength to strength due to its inherent advantage over conventional financial practices. Erstwhile British Prime Minister, David Cameron was so ambitious about Islamic financial solutions that he initiated a process to make the UK the largest hub for Islamic banking and finance outside the Middle East. How then can “CAN” claim to be more Christian or more secular than their teachers – the British and Americans? Who is selling Nigeria through the back door? Who are the buyers of Nigeria?

Our belief is that CAN is not ignorant of the glittering developments of Islamic Finance as one may think. Rather, it is its realisation that acknowledgement of the relevance of Islamic Finance products in Nigeria will neutralise permanently its smear campaign and anti-Islam agenda from which it may never recover; hence its rascal antagonism of Islam and Muslims, just to remain relevant.

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Let’s examine the arguments of CAN and provide relevant rebuttals:

First, CAN claimed that the Sukuk bond violates Section 10 of the Constitution of Nigeria. To this we respond that, the remark is a portrayal of the group’s poor understanding of the law. It is a fact that cannot be controverted that the Provision of Section 10 of the Nigerian Constitution states clearly that the county shall not adopt a state religion. (Which has always been used by proponent of secularism). Our question to CAN is: How does floating of Sukuk (Infrastructural Bond) amount to proclamation of Islam as a state religion?

Indeed, CAN needs education on contemporary ways government raises money for projects. It is noteworthy that, presently, the Vice President of Nigeria & Chairman of the National Economic Team, the Minister of Finance, Director-General Debt Management Office and the Governor of Central Bank are committed Christians. Are you saying that these people are not knowledgeable Christians to have conceived, previewed and approved the Sukuk. Obviously not! They are well-informed, highly-exposed and have out-grown bigotry. If having Sundays and Saturdays as holidays which are days of worship for the Christians without similar opportunity for adherents of Islam is not seen by CAN as adopting Christianity as state religion, how is a global financial product interpreted as adoption of a state religion?

Second, the body questioned the needful amendment to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules to allow the issuance of Sukuk bond. We respond that, Sections 10 and 38 of the Constitution should be read together. The needful amendment to SEC rules are consistent to normal legal procedure for facilitating and leveraging global trend as regards tapping from the immense benefits of emerging Islamic finance market. CAN as usual, has been economical with the truth, the Federal Government and the Debt Management Office have been very clear about the objective of the Sukuk bond – to finance road projects in the Six geo-political zones as a fallout from budget deficit. It was not issued to build mosques or Islamic infrastructure. The sale of the bond is not discriminatory; it was sold to Nigerians and other interested investors in line with international best practices. It is therefore advised that, CAN should seek the advice of legal minds to get better enlightened or take recourse to a court of law, rather than constituting itself into a social irritant.

Third, the body claimed that the Sukuk structurally grants the holders of the bond a perpetual ownership of the collateral and therefore Nigeria is being surreptitiously transferred to Arab Muslim world for possession. This ill-informed position is mischievous and ridiculous. The Debt Management Office (DMO) is yet to complete the process, how did CAN know the demographics of the bondholders? How much of British and German lands and territories have been ceded for patronizing Islamic bonds? CAN has not raised similar concerns when Nigeria borrowed money from Shylock non-Muslim countries and institutions. So, by CAN’s logic, the nation can be sold to others as long as they are not Arabs or Muslims?

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And why is CAN bothered that the proceeds of Sukuk bonds are only invested in halal (pure and lawful) activities, when its own freedom to invest, consume and wallow in haram (impure and unlawful) activities is not infringed upon? Why has CAN chosen to pitch its tent with the laws of mammon rather than that of God which forbids usury/interest-yielding assets. Why must CAN always pitch its tent with indecency and wage war on morality and dignity. To Muslims usury-based financial products are toxic. Who is CAN serving: God or mammon. Equally CAN’s reference to IMF statement of Islamic finance in a non-Islamic country as a breach of religious neutrality can only be bought by the half-witted, uninitiated and morons. Why is this ‘tutorial’ not given to the likes of UK, USA, France and Germany?

In conclusion, we urge the leadership of CAN to be more responsible in its approach to issues of national concern. No group of people or association parades itself in such ignoble and irrational way it showcases itself in recent times. Is it not better and honourable for CAN to keep its stinking mouth shut while this government labours to fix the economy and the nation the previous government destroyed with its full participation and support?

CAN should rather not allow its hatred for Islam to becloud its perception from realising that financial product such as the Sukuk is the next phase of fair financial dealings in the global financial system; it does not constitute threat to the territorial integrity of any nation. CAN cannot accept this reality because of its previous falsehood and pathological intolerance for anything with Islam or Shari’ah nomenclatures.

It is our considered opinion therefore, that the body called CAN is in need of a ‘spiritual rebirth’ and needs to be led by “cerebral Christians”, if it is to play any useful role in the future of the country. It is high time the founding fathers of CAN wrestled it from the rapacious politicians and ill-informed lots before its remnant integrity and goodwill (if any), laboriously built over the years, is irretrievably slid into oblivion.

We must however admonish CAN that though, it wishes to extinguish truth – the light of Islam and benefits of emerging Islamic Finance in Nigeria – its efforts will only lead to their popularity, strengthening and realisation of what it dislikes, as it had done for those before it.

Long live Nigeria!
Long live the Muslim Ummah!!
Long live the Lovers of Truth!!!

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