The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) yesterday tackled a coalition of 22 Christian groups in Nigeria led by National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF), for allegedly criticizing the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, over his announcement of Sallah Day celebration.
The Sultan had last weekend announced that Muslims would observe the Eid- al- Kabir on Monday,September 12.
However, the NCEF, claimed Abubakar III, who is the spiritual leader of all Muslims in the country, declared the day a public holiday and slammed President Muhammadu Buhari for abdicating his functions to the Sultan.
In a statement signed on their behalf by Chairman of the Forum, Solomon Asemota, the coalition said the development gave credence to their earlier claims of a secret plan to Islamise Nigeria.
“We unequivocally wish to state that it is very improper for the head of the Islamic faith in Nigeria to announce, declare, or extend Public Holidays. This is the function of the Federal Government and need not be abdicated”, Mr. Asemota, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said in a widely circulated statement.
“Again, we have no objection whatsoever to the Muslim Public Holiday but our concern is that in a secular society as enshrined in Section 10 of the Constitution, the responsibility of declaring or announcing a religious Public Holiday is vested in the Federal Government and such responsibility is sacrosanct”.
Reacting to the statement credited to Asemota, MURIC director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, said the organization was greatly perturbed by the recent trend in the advocacy of NCEF and its parent body, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
He said: “To say the least, their interventions are destructive, biased, confrontational, unnecessarily aggressive and openly hostile”.
Akintola noted: “CAN has deliberately twisted the Sultan’s declaration of eid-el-Kabir day as if the latter had declared a public holiday. For the avoidance of doubts, there is a difference between declaration of Sallah day and declaration of a public holiday. Only the Federal Government can declare a public holiday in the country while governors alone can declare it in the states. But the Sultan reserves the right to declare the day for a Muslim festival. CAN has no locus standi to question him. Or did the Sultan declare Christmas day?”