Abuja — The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) yesterday said that it was illegal and unconstitutional for President Muhammadu Buhari to attend a summit exclusively convoked for Islamic nations under the aegis of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
It said that Nigeria's presence in such a body offends sections 10 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution since Nigeria is a secular or at least a multi-religious nation.
The pro-democracy and non-governmental organisation noted that the fact that the former military dictator, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, who suspended the then constitution and used military fiat to railroad the country into an organisation that is fundamentally set up to protect, promote and nurture only pro-Islamic religious issues, makes it imperative that the action of enrolling Nigeria remains a nullity.
HURIWA, in a statement signed in Abuja by its National Co-ordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, added that it is contradictory that Nigeria whose grundnorm in Section 10 specifically prohibits Nigeria from doing things that promote one religion as a state religion would continue to disobey the constitution only because a military despot without regard for the constitution enrolled Nigeria as a member of OIC, makes Nigeria a laughing stock before the international community.
"We condemn the continuous patronage, attendance and participation of Nigeria in OIC when Nigeria is neither an Arab state nor is it a Muslim nation. Nigeria is made up of Muslims, Christians, Atheists and adherents of African traditional religions."
HURIWA said whilst it may be the right thing for the organised body of Muslims in Nigeria like the Islamic Council of Nigeria to join such a religious body to protect the religious affairs of their members but at the same time abide by the Nigerian constitution, it remains illegal and unconstitutional for Nigeria as a secular and multi-religious geo-political entity to maintain such a membership relationship with a religious body.
"It is like Nigeria becoming a member of the Roman Curia in the Vatican City," it said.It said it is good enough that the country maintains diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia as well as all other Islamic nations but it is illegal to identify Nigeria as either an Arab nation or an Islamic nation.
The group recalled that under its status, the OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organisation after the United Nations (UN) with a membership of 57 states spread over four continents. The organisation is the collective voice of the Muslim world. It endeavours to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.
It recalled that the organisation was established upon a decision of the historical summit, which took place in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco on 12th Rajab 1389 Hijra (25 September 1969) following what the Arabs regard rightly or wrongly as the criminal arson of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.Also, HURIWA recalled that the organisation has the singular honour to galvanise the Ummah into a unified body and have actively represented the Muslims by espousing all causes close to the hearts of over 1.5 billion Muslims of the world.