28th February, 2018
DON’T DEMOLISH POST GRADUATE MEDICAL COLLEGE MOSQUE
A fresh religious crisis is brewing in the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN), Ijanikin, Lagos, as the College management is allegedly warming up to pull down the only mosque within the college.
Documents seen by the Investigating Officer of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) confirm that the Muslim community of the College had been using a makeshift mosque for about ten years until 28th October, 2015 when they applied for a permanent space to build a befitting structure. In a letter dated 20th January, 2016, NPMCN management approved a permanent piece of land measuring 20 meters x 20 meters “along the road to the staff quarters”. The Muslim community responded with a letter of appreciation dated 1st December, 2016.
But in a sudden twist, the College management in its letter of 12th June 2016, ordered the Muslim community to stop the construction because “it was discovered that there is no provision for permanent structure for mosque or church in the College master plan.” The Muslim community made a passionate appeal to the authorities in its letter of 18th July, 2017 and the College rescinded its decision in another letter dated 24th August, 2017.
Yet again on 12th December 2017 another letter was issued by NPMCN management asking the Muslims to stop work on the site. The College cited the decision of the Governing Council for this final move.
MURIC is constrained to fault this decision because it seeks to deprive both staff and students, Christians and Muslims of the great institution their right to worship. This is contrary to the provisions of Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guarantees freedom of worship. Any action or inaction of any authority which curtails this freedom either directly or indirectly is null, void and of no consequence whatsoever.
We are greatly perturbed by the chaotic manner with which the College management has handled the matter. It is glaring that management could not make up its mind on time leading to epileptic administrative stances. It approves, then disapproves and approves again only to rescind its decision in the end. We opine that the latest position of the College authorities is unrealistic. It has failed to take into consideration the composition and yearning of the Nigerian society.
Whereas man is body, soul and spirit, the College has elected to turn the campus to a godless community by preparing a master plan without any provision for worship centers. This lacuna is not acceptable. It is quite unusual as Nigerian tertiary institutions are known to reserve at least one space each for a church and a mosque. It must be pointed out that medical doctors who are able to meet their spiritual needs turn out to be better ambassadors of the medical profession in their day-to-day relationship with patients. Nigeria is not in need of programmed robots as doctors and consultants.
It is not too late, however. We appeal to the authorities to take the case back to the governing council. Provision should be made for church space and the Christian community reserves the right to use it as it deems fit. They also have the right to reject it if they don’t need it. But that should not affect the Muslim space. The space allocated to the Muslims must not be taken from them. Neither should anyone contemplate demolishing the mosque at its present level of construction. That alone will send out a dangerous signal.
We suggest that the governing council and management should allow the leaders of the Muslim Community to air their views. This may bring about better understanding regarding the raison d’etre for a mosque or a permanent structure. The College authorities cannot, in good conscience, go ahead to demolish the mosque after they had given approval twice and work had begun.
Muslims by the nature of their worship need mosques in their work places and educational institutions. Authorities who respect human feelings and who have no intention of encroaching on Allah-given fundamental human rights give good consideration to the need for mosques. In particular, those who seek peaceful coexistence will not hesitate to allow either Muslims or Christians to worship. When a hen perches on a rope, neither the hen nor the rope will remain stable.
In the final analysis, we know that Christians in the College may not make any demand due to the nature of their worship but Muslims must pray five times daily and suggesting that they should go outside the campus to do that is like forbidding them from worshipping Allah. Neither should the authorities judge one group with the standard of another. Each must be given its own space and the Muslim mosque which is already on ground should not be demolished. It had better not be.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)