The recent collapse of a 21-storey building on Gerrard Road, Ikoyi Lagos, has ignited controversy over alleged anti-Muslim sentiment in Yorubaland following the revelation by an engineer that the owner of the collapsed building, Mr. Femi Osibona, denied him an offer because of his faith.
The engineer, Mr. Sikiru Adebowale, had in a YouTube video that went viral after the building crumbled on Monday made the claim which is generating disquiet not only in the South West but the entire country.
An Islamic organisation, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), amplified the issue in a statement, saying his confession is strong evidence of the alienation of Muslims in Yorubaland.
Director and founder of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, said while the video has gone viral, few people would comprehend the implications of the revelation of the man.
He said, “That video clip is an undeniable evidence of the alienation, marginalisation, impoverisation and persecution of Yoruba Muslims by no other than their fellow Yoruba who happen to be Christians.”
MURIC also challenged the Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere and other Yoruba groups, to speak up on the revelation.
He stated that the much-touted religious tolerance is a hoax, adding that “they tolerate each other at the informal level but they are sworn enemies at the formal level.”
“MURIC hereby demands the reaction of Afenifere and other Yoruba socio-cultural groups to this viral audio clip. A Yoruba man has deprived another Yoruba man of a chance of employment. The reason advanced is that the applicant is a Muslim.
“What has Afenifere got to say about this? The site of that monumental interview is a microcosm in a macro. It perfectly depicts what is happening in the whole Yorubaland. Will Yoruba Muslims get jobs in an ‘Oduduwa nation’? Will Yoruba Muslims enjoy equal rights and justice in an ‘Oduduwa Republic’? It should be noted that similar posers raised by MURIC more than six months ago remain unanswered by Afenifere.
“However, we know full well that our interventions serve as enlightenment for the public even if Afenifere refuses to respond. We will not give up until the entire Yoruba race and the Nigerian nation as a whole are liberated from the shackles of disinformation, misinformation and malinformation. Aluta continua, Victoria acerta.” #Muslimjobsmatter.”
Akintola urged “those who do not believe us to review the video clip and listen to Mr. Sikiru Adebowale as he was being interviewed by a television station.”
The statement added: “According to him, the man who interviewed him at the site was the developer who was a fellow Yoruba man and a Christian.
“The man who went to apply for a job at the site is also a Yoruba man but he is a Muslim. But even after the professional aspect of the interview had been held, the developer still complained that the applicant could not be employed because he is a Muslim.
“He asked the applicant the name of the church he attended and the warmth melted like ice cream in the burning sun when the latter told him that he is a Muslim. As a result of this rejection, the applicant left the site in frustration. But the 21-storey building which was under construction collapsed one hour after he had left the site.
“While we congratulate Mr. Adebowale for escaping almost certain death or severe injuries, MURIC sympathises with the bereaved families, the injured victims and the Lagos State Government over this avoidable tragedy.
“But the truth which must be told is that the sad incident has exposed the sufferings of Yoruba Muslims under their overbearing and selfish Christian overlords who want all political offices, all civil service vacancies, all teaching jobs, all construction works, etc for Christians and Christians alone.
“The wind has blown and we have seen the ruff of the hen. MURIC has been complaining for years that jobs were being hoarded by our Christian neighbours. We said Muslims are being ostracised. Muslims who attend interviews are asked if they are ready to convert. They are told to bring referee’s letters from pastors and those who fail to do so remain jobless. Muslims are turned into dregs of society. Christianity became the avowed priority, not ‘Oduduwa nation’.
“We said it time without number that all the noise about ‘Oduduwa nation’ is a façade, a mere deception designed to trick Yoruba Muslims into an irredentist trap that will further push Yoruba Muslims into the abyss of political marginalisation, social segregation and economic impoverisation.
“The story of Mr. Sikiru Adebowale as narrated in the video clip should have attracted the condemnation of the developer’s attitude from the Nigerian civil society but the latter has elected to keep mum because a Muslim is the victim. This is a case of religious apartheid publicly exposed.
“It is interesting to note that the victim is a Yoruba man, ditto for the oppressor. Those Muslim girls persecuted over hijab in Yorubaland are also Yoruba. Ironically, their oppressors are also Yoruba. It dismisses the myth of a tolerant, loving and sharing Yoruba race. It belies the propaganda that there is no religious intolerance in Yorubaland. You can all see with your own eyes what happened between this Yoruba developer and his Yoruba Muslim applicant.
“We are constrained to reiterate our explanation of what is happening in Yorubaland. It is not religious tolerance. Rather it is religious enslavement and socio-economic alienation. The fact that Christians and Muslims live together in the same house is being misunderstood as religious tolerance. But the truth is that all that is at an informal level.”
When contacted yesterday for comment on the challenge raised by MURIC, Afenifere spokesman, Comrade Jare Ajayi said the group was not ready to join issues with the MURIC’s founder.
The man at the centre of the discord, the owner of the collapsed building who was the Managing Director of Fourscore Homes Limited, is no longer alive to respond to the claim in the video.
Since the building caved in, there has been no information about the real estate firm, its shareholders or any key official of the company. There was also no official website for the company.
Dr. Bolaji O. Akinyemi, Convener Apostolic Round Table, a project of Voice Of His Word Ministries said the development is disturbing.
He stressed the need for Nigerians to learn to detach religion or tribe from issues of competence.
He however attacked the MURIC founder, saying, “Akintola berated his learning when he used such isolated case to draw his conclusions!
“I would have expected him to reach out to his Muslim brother, Hakeem Muri-Okunola to provide him with the statistics of Lagos State Civil Service, so the world can appreciate the dominance of the service by Muslims and the needless hew and cry of Akintola!
“I must appreciate Sikiru Adebowale, the engineer who went on an interview at the collapsed building and left barely an hour before the building went down, for his maturity. I was forced to look for the video of him that Akintola based his vituperations upon. There was nothing lacking decorum in his manners. He stated his disappointment and even offered how best he felt the deceased Mr Femi Osibona should have approached the issue! Unfortunately, the view of Mr Femi on this can no longer be available. May God rest his soul!
“However, he was a private employer who is entitled to setting parameters for employment services suitable to him in his organisation. He is not the government of Lagos State, not an official of the Christian Association of Nigeria or a representative of Afenifere or Oduduwa Nation. Ishaq Akintola’s conclusion is mischievous, a figment of his very wild imaginations.
“According to Sikiru Adebowale, Femi Osibona asked him which church he was attending. How are we sure even though he is a Christian, if he would have been offered the job if his denomination is not the same with Mr Femi Osibona’s?”
Similarly, a columnist, Prof. Farook Kperogi, also raised the issue in his weekly column titled, “Ikoyi Tragedy and Casual Bigotry Against Yoruba Muslims”. He said, “The truth is that the famed religious ecumenicalism and tolerance of the Yoruba people is often achieved at the expense of Yoruba Muslims. It is they, and not their Christian brothers and sisters, who must always perform religious tolerance. (In his interview with the YouTube news channel, even Sikiru felt compelled to say that 95 per cent of his friends are Christians and that he hadn’t closed off the possibility that he could convert to Christianity at some point in his life.)