Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Defamation: Rabo’s Defence Counsel Withdrew From Case

The trial between the Kaduna State Filmmakers and Director-General, Kano State Censorship Board (KSCB), Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem has taken a new dimension. Prior to yesterday’s sitting at Court One, Magistrate Court, Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna, a Kano State High Court presided over by the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Shehu Atiku has issued an order barring police from arresting or detaining the KSCB boss.
The case, which is presided over by Chief Magistrate Nasiru Idris Lere, has yesterday end with a dramatic session as the counsel of the accuse, Barrister Gideon Didam, honourable withdrew with his team of lawyers from the case on grounds of protecting their professional integrity. “We are completely ignorant of the court order restricting the arrest of our client. We are in this vain, going to allow the judicial court to take its position, may be that is why the accused is absent today.” Said the defence counsel.
Similarly, the counsel to the complainants, Barrister Sadau Garba, represented by Barrister Mohammad Sunusi, argued that the said order from the Kano high court seems not authentic as the document was a photocopy instead of original. Sighting technical inferiorities, Barrister Sunusi disputed the order under section 158/D&E of CPC. He urged the court to continue the proceeding.
The Chief Magistrate, in his ruling said the court will ignore the matter to avoid judicial rascality. Adding that the registrar of the court will forward the said order to the Kaduna State Anthony general for verification and further directives. Meanwhile, June 28, 2010 was fixed for further hearing on the case.

Friday, June 4, 2010

My Christian Neighbour

By Ustaz Abubakr Siddeeq Mohammed (Published today in Leadership)

If Allah willed He could have made all of us of one faith; but He left us as we are, professing different religions. Are we to express dissent of the others by killing them and expelling them from their homes because they are not indigenes or believers? Or, are we to despise and treat them wrongly for being unbelievers? If we are to exhibit any of the above traits, would we then not be repelling people from our creed by tyrannous and abhorrent behaviour? Why don't we instead invite people to our way of life with good conduct, handsome neighbourliness and beautiful exhortation with wisdom and pleasing evangelism?
I did not know what was on the mind of my Christian neighbour when he first saw me and my family in a compound of seven flats before he finally moved in as a new tenant. With all the misrepresentations about Islam floating freely via the airwaves and satellite television worldwide, of terrorism and killing in the name of God, seeing a Muslim televangelist living amidst your new place of abode will stir aversion in many non-Muslims. They were not apparent the goings on in the mind of my new neighbour and his family. Well, as for me I was not disturbed a bit. I only hoped that he be among those Christians described in the Qur'an as “Among them are good people..." (Ali Imraan 3:110); those who are knowledgeable about the texts of the Holy Bible as regards the rights of their neighbours; those who shall not avenge or bear any grudge against the children of their neighbour (Leviticus 19:18); those who shall love God with all their heart, and with all their souls, and with all their minds; and their neighbour as themselves (Luke 10:27); those who shall not covet, debauch the wife of or bear false witness against their neighbours (Romans 13:9); and those who shall love their neighbour as themselves (Galatians 5:14, James 2:8 ).
Why should I be uncomfortable for seeing a Christian coming to be my neighbour when the Qur'an teaches me that: "And nearest among them in love to the believers will you find those who say, 'We are Christians;' because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant." (Al-Maa'idah 5:82) That is the description I found of the Christians in my Glorious Qur'an. So, should I be afraid of such a person being my neighbour?
Moreover, many traditions of the Prophet, blessing and peace be upon him, teach me his way of dealings with Christian and Jewish neighbours as well as a Muslim neighbour who is not related, and one who is of kin. I learn from these sources that: "Let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day either speak good or keep silent, and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his neighbour..." And my faith is not complete until I like for my neighbour what I love for myself. Why will I not be kind to my neighbour when my religion tells me that unless my neighbour is immune and secure from my wrong conduct I may not enter Paradise? Arc Angel Gabriel impressed upon the Messenger of Allah, blessing and peace be upon him, that he should treat his neighbour kindly until the Messenger of Allah started thinking that one day Gabriel may bring a pronouncement from Allah instructing that a neighbour should share in the inheritance of a deceased neighbour!
Interestingly, it was not long before I and my family made a startling discovery in the relationship between us and our Christian neighbour. We were not only neighbours but actually regard ourselves as a family. When did the chemistry between the two families, the one Christian, the other Muslim, develop and mature to this interesting state? Nobody can say. Doubtless, the two have shown the teachings of Islam and Christianity by their words and actions, recognising the rights and privileges of a neighbour. None will park their cars where the path of the other would be blocked. Our quarters were devoid of rancour or the slightest of sound from electrical appliances that would constitute public nuisance and disturb the peace of any flat.
If anything should befall my household, my wife would contact my Christian neighbour before other Muslim tenants in the compound. Is this because his flat is the closest to mine; or is it due to the fact that this Christian respects the principles of good neighbourliness more than others who profess the same faith as me in the estate? Few weeks ago my wife was struck by an ailment that made her so infirm that she could not drive. I had travelled out of the country at the time. It was my neighbour's wife, a Christian also, who took her to the hospital. It did not end there. At the hospital there was a long queue of patients; nobody paid attention to the critical condition in which my wife was. My neighbour's wife knows the owner of the private hospital so she called him. Her tone smacked of a very close familiarity or command; or was it because she works with a government parastatal that oversees private hospitals in Nigeria? "Mr. Lovett," she began, "what are you people doing in this hospital? I've an emergency case here and nobody seems to care...; my sister is dying!"
Whatever was the response from the other end nobody overhead; my wife's case was treated with military dispatch after the intervention of my Christian neighbour! What would have happened if she was not there? Allah knows best.
Whenever his relatives come visiting Abuja, my Christian neighbour will bring them to my house for 'formal introduction of another member of the family'. He will always say "Ustaz Siddeeq is more than a neighbour. His family is part of our family." Yes, he is right. I accept entirely what he said. I've never met somebody like him. I'm proud to have such a Christian as my neighbour!
My neighbour’s wife brings fresh bread to my family daily. For about five years now, my family takes breakfast with bread that our Christian neighbour brings after office hours every day. Not only that; we exchange delicacies peculiar to our different geo-political zones. They bring us moi-moi, ogbono soup, etc; and whenever we have miyar kuka on our menu we take to them. My neighbour's wife likes miyar kuka so much that she can make a request for it at any time whether it is part of what we will eat on that day or not. Her request is always granted.
During Christmas my neighbour would ask me: "Shall I kill a ram or a goat?"
A strange question indeed; but I understood that he desires that I partake in eating the Christmas feast. Therefore, he does not want to offer me what I may not like to eat. So, I said: "Why don't you slaughter a ram?"
"Okay; a ram we shall kill" was the response
“Why kill when you can slaughter?”
"Ustaz," my neighbour will say, "kill or slaughter the animal will eventually die. When I bring the ram you will come and do the killing, sorry, slaughtering...." and we all laughed...
But the question is will I and my family eat of the meat if he were to slaughter it? Our scholars taught us that what is not allowed is a situation where a non-Muslim slaughters animals for Muslims to eat; but if a non-Muslim of the People of the Book (a Jew of a Christian) slaughters an animal (that is lawful to Muslims) for his own use according to the instruction of their religion, a Muslim is free to eat such meat. So, most assuredly, I and my family would eat of whatever halaal food my Christian neighbour offers. The Qur'an says: "This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them..." (Al-Maa'idah 5:5)
And so it is; every year he brings food to my house and I to his on our various religious ceremonies. Before I travel to Saudi Arabia for Umrah in Ramadan or Hajj I leave my children to the supervision of my Christian neighbour; and if any of these religious journeys falls during school holidays and I travel with the entire family the custody of the keys to my house and vehicles is left with my Christian neighbour! Whoever will clean the house before our return or warm the cars would have to liaise with him for the keys.
One day his sister in-law approached my wife on the issue of a Muslim suitor. She said she wanted to become a Muslim before their marriage. I told her that it was not necessary to embrace Islam before marrying a Muslim; that she can remain a Christian and marry a Muslim if that is what she prefers. I also mentioned to her that Islam should come out of conviction as there is no compulsion in religion. She said: “Sir; if the Islam I see in you and your family is what obtains in his house I have no objection to becoming a Muslim!”
My brother has another shining example of a Christian neighbour. In the compound where he lives, he has eight neighbours. Only two of these eight are Muslims. Of the six non-Muslims, two are Igbo by tribe and one is Yoruba, he could not determine the exact tribes of the remaining. The Muslims are from Edo and Adamawa respectively.
The Igbos are comprised of a family of six and a single lady who has recently completed her youth service and is currently without a job. It is this single lady that interests me.
Ada (not her real name) is quite young and amiable. She works hard to eke a living even as she has no particular job. She would often seek the advice of my brother’s wife on many issues ranging from the latest job proposition, which involves her sleeping with the boss to her latest worries over her fiancĂ©. The fact that this woman (my brother's wife) wears a face veil does not in any way hinder this lady.
As Allah would have it, my brother's children took ill and he was about to take them to hospital in company of his wife. Ada saw them and inquired "Hajiya, lafiya?" This means "Hajiya is everything alright?" When she realised what was happening, she volunteered to follow them to hospital. What the couple did not know was that she was billed to supervise a building project and to pay the labourers. She remained with the couple in hospital and actually missed that day's work. Only after the event did she mention this to my brother's wife.
On a second occasion, one of the same children was ill and the family spent the greater part of the night in hospital. Ada was there again helping without the slightest hint that she was tired and hungry. Had it not been that she had been with my brother's wife all day, she would have assumed that her repeated refusal to take food was because she had eaten some food. It turned out she was hungry but she worried that she would further deplete the funds my brother had if she decided to order food! In contrast, his Muslim neighbours looked on and hardly asked after the child's health.
He told me countless random acts of kindness this person demonstrated to his family including at one point loaning my brother's wife money meant for her house rent to meet up with an urgent expense!
This is what good neighbourliness should be. We are able to achieve this understanding through mutual respect and appreciation of our differences. Yes, my neighbour is a Christian; I am a Muslim. I do not share the faith he professes; I am a non-believer in his religion, and he, a non-believer, in mine. It actually stops there. My household does not use the Hausa word arne to describe a Christian because it is derogatory and unIslamic. Arne refers to idol worshipers and the agnostics. My neighbour has a religion, worships God and the Glorious Qur'an calls him a Christian. I will therefore have no better description to my Christian neighbour than that used by Allah, the creator of all in His Book.
If anyone wants to harm me they can as well harm my neighbour. If anyone tries to injure or kill my neighbour then they would have to kill me first because it is a religious duty on me not to allow evil reach my Christian neighbour!

Islamic Higher System Of Morality

By Al-Amin Ciroma (Published in Leadership Today)

Respect and care for parents is very much stressed in the Islamic teaching and is a very important part of a Muslim's expression of faith.
“Your Sustainer has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your lifetime, do not say to them a word of contempt nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say: My Sustainer! Bestow on them Your mercy, even as they cherished me in childhood.” (17:23-24).
On other relatives, Allah (SWT) said: “And render to the relatives their due rights, as (also) to those in need, and to the traveler; and do not squander your wealth in the manner of a spendthrift.” (17:26).
The Prophet (SAW) has said: “He is not a believer who eats his fill when his neighbor beside him is hungry"; and: "He does not believe whose neighbors are not safe from his injurious conduct.”
Actually, according to the Quran and Sunnah, a Muslim has to discharge his moral responsibility not only to his parents, relatives and neighbors but to the entire mankind, animals and trees and plants. For example, hunting of birds and animals for the sake of game is not permitted. Similarly, cutting trees and plants which yield fruit is forbidden unless there is a very pressing need for it.
Thus, on the basic moral characteristics, Islam builds a higher system of morality by virtue of which mankind can realize its greatest potential. Islam purifies the soul from self-seeking egotism, tyranny, wantonness and indiscipline. It creates God-conscious men, devoted to their ideals, possessed of piety, abstinence and discipline and uncompromising with falsehood, It induces feelings of moral responsibility and fosters the capacity for self control. Islam generates kindness, generosity, mercy, sympathy, peace, disinterested goodwill, scrupulous fairness and truthfulness towards all creation in all situations. It nourishes noble qualities from which only good may be expected.
Islam has laid down some universal fundamental rights for humanity as a whole, which are to be observed and respected under all circumstances. To achieve these rights Islam provides not only legal safeguards but also a very effective moral system. Thus whatever leads to the welfare of the individual or the society is morally good in Islam and whatever is injurious is morally bad. Islam attaches so much importance to the love of God and love of man that it warns against too much of formalism. We read in the Holy Quran:
“It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask; and for the freeing of captives; to be steadfast in prayers, and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which you made; and to be firm and patient in pain (or suffering) and adversity and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-conscious." (2:177)
We are given a beautiful description of the righteous and God-conscious man in these verses. He should obey salutary regulations, but he should fix his gaze on the love of God and the love of his fellow men.
We are given four heads:
Our faith should be true and sincere, we must be prepared to show it in deeds of charity to our fellow-men, we must be good citizens, supporting social organisations, and our own individual soul must be firm and unshaken in all circumstances.
This is the standard by which a particular mode of conduct is judged and classified as good or bad. This standard of judgment provides the nucleus around which the whole moral conduct should revolve. Before laying down any moral injunctions Islam seeks to firmly implant in man's heart the conviction that his dealings are with Allah (SWT) who sees him at all times and in all places; that he may hide himself from the whole world but not from Him; that he may deceive everyone but cannot deceive God; that he can flee from the clutches of anyone else but not from Allah.
Thus, by setting Allah's pleasure as the objective of man's life, Islam has furnished the highest possible standard of morality. This is bound to provide limitless avenues for the moral evolution of humanity. By making Divine revelations as the primary source of knowledge it gives permanence and stability to the moral standards which afford reasonable scope for genuine adjustments, adaptations and innovations, though not for perversions, wild variation, atomistic relativism or moral fluidity. It provides a sanction to morality in the love and fear of God, which will impel man to obey the moral law even without any external pressure. Through belief in God and the Day of Judgment it furnishes a force which enables a person to adopt the moral conduct with earnestness and sincerity, with all the devotion of heart and soul.
It does not, through a false sense of originality and innovation, provide any novel moral virtues nor does it seek to minimize the importance of the well-known moral norms, nor does it give exaggerated importance to some and neglect others without cause. It takes up all the commonly known moral virtues and with a sense of balance and proportion it assigns a suitable place and function to each one of them in the total scheme of life.

Senator Bent: Honoured Home And Abroad

Senator Grace Bent represents Adamawa South Senatorial Dictrict in the National Assembly. AL-AMIN CIROMA takes a look at this colourful lawmaker whose exploits have not gone unnoticed

Published in LEADERSHIP (May 25, 2010)

The climate all over the world has suddenly changed to something else. Every morning one wakes up, the first thing that comes to the mind is how international air travellers are coping with the current weather hazards. In Nigeria, particularly in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the condition changes every minute: it can be viciously cold, hot and very dry in turns. It was under this situation that I pondered on the fate of our environmental problems in Nigeria. That gave me an insight into onerous task facing the distinguished lawmaker, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, Senator Grace Folashade Bent, who has undoubtedly done well in defining the environment and ecological problems in this country for the past years.
She is known for her zeal to eradicate poverty, economic empowerment of women and youth with a rare kind of sharp intelligence. Senator Bent is well known for her political dexterity. The Adamawa State political amazon is known for her zeal and enthusiasm in pursuing agenda that affect humanity and Nigeria as a nation. She is a rare activist, and openly savours the tough thrust and party of political campaigning. No doubt the board of directors of African Leadership forum magazine conferred on her the coveted African Legislator of the year 2010.
The historic event, which took place at Hyatt Regency Hotel, Charles De-Gaulle airport in Paris, France, drew participants from all walks of life. Notable among the dignitaries that grace the occasion were, the Senate President of Liberia, Governor of Abia State, His Excellency, Dr. Theodore Orji, Her Excellency, Mrs. Yemisi Suswam, wife of the Governor of Benue State and Nigeria's Ambassador to France and Sweden, among other dignitaries.
The chairman of the Advisory Board of the African Leadership group and also Chairman of the African Business Roundtable, elder statesman, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, noted that Senator Bent had distinguished herself as a detribalised Senator to the people of Nigeria, and had over the years, commanded respect and adulation from many who have known her through her good works.
Also making a point at the grand stage of the event, the renowned British-born Sudanese Telecom magnate and wealthiest African, Dr. Mo' Ibrahim, saw Senator Bent as a symbol of the new breed of the emerging African leaders with a human heart. The philanthropist, Dr. Ibrahim heads the Mo' Ibrahim foundation that awards $500,000 and subsequently $200,000 annually for the remaining days of the duly elected African leader that has served his people creditably well without any recourse to a term extension.
Senator Bent was described as strong, very outspoken leader on issues that border on women activism, environmental sustainability and exemplary leadership. The ever smiling legislator is always down to earth, unassuming, a good leader of people. She belives that the best leadership is all about putting the people first, citing people like Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Aminu Kano, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, etc. According to her, they were very rich but they put the people first.
Senator Bent also serves the upper legislative chamber in various committees as an active member. Few among the committees she serves on are those on foreign affairs, aviation, ethics, privileges and public petitions, etc. This clearly indicates her passion and obsession in serving her great country. She is of the opinion that the depth of one’s life will always be the depth of one’s leadership. The gorgeous looking lawmaker, who also bagged the 'Sardauna Senator of the Year 2009', has in her list numerous honours including, PWORA Role Model award (2008) by the Association of Professional Women on Rural Development (PWORA). She was also honoured as the most distinguished Senator in Northern Nigeria (2008) by the management of the Africa Independent Television (AIT), among other honorary awards.
The distinguished senator, above all is always connected to her beliefs. Whenever a question like this arises, Senator Grace, who is adorably nicknamed 'Goggo,' a Fulani term depicting a very cherished mother and auntie in line with her positive political exploits in the state, would simply smile and say your environment determines your growth. According to her, fish grow according to their environment. Fish that could grow very big in the ocean can remain very small when caged in a small environment. She is of the opinion that one must work hard and persevere in order to remain relevant and serve one’s community within his capabilities.
This sociable and friendly lawmaker is also God-fearing. In all her endeavours, she laboured well in fulfilling her destiny. The Erelu Fimigboye Egba of Egba land has it that God has not preordained anything for one except that He has given one all needs to make one’s life happy. She advices her people not to relent in mercies of God. It is for people to take this advantage and plan their destiny.
Senator Grace is also a house wife. She is married to her hearthrob, Major Bent (retired). She has written quite a number of books and novels. To mention a few, she wrote 'Interethnic Marriages in Nigeria,' 'The Novelist as a Conscience of His Nation' and 'Major Threats to Nigerian Security.'
For Senator Grace Bent, the sky is just the starting point.