By Florence Ebebe
An Islamic human rights association, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has reminded the West African Examination Council, WAEC to take cognizance of the Muslim worship period on Fridays when it finally prepares its WASSCE timetable.
WAEC yesterday debunked the report that it had released the May/June 2020 West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) timetable.
It said the delay in releasing the timetable was due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, MURIC’s position was contained in a press statement signed by its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola .
The organisation said, “We welcome WAEC’s clarification with pleasure. We appreciate what the regional examination body is going through in terms of constant logistic realignment occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We wish to remind WAEC authorities of the need to take cognizance of the Friday Jumu’ah period for its Muslim candidates when preparing its timetable for WASSCE 2020 examination.
“The ugly incidents of the past when Muslim candidates had to write papers instead of observing the Jumu’ah prayer will no longer be accepted. It will be resisted with every legitimate means available.
“But to be forewarned is to be fore-armed. This is why we have decided to remind WAEC of the need to avoid encroaching on Allah-given fundamental human rights of Muslim candidates in future examinations.
“WAEC should consider us as partners in progress. We are not enemies and we can always work together under the principle of mutual respect. Peace is always possible once the principle of equal rights, justice and fairplay are maintained. Unfortunately, however, everybody is talking about peace but nobody is talking about justice.
“WAEC has no right under the sun to schedule any examination during the Muslim Jumu’ah prayer in the same way as it will not contemplate scheduling any examination on a Sunday particularly during the Christian worship. Therefore, what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.
“Terrorism and all other forms of religious violence will disappear from Nigeria once there is equal right and justice. But the constant maltreatment of Muslims which amount to provocation has been behind most religious crisis which Nigeria has experienced.
“We believe that religious violence is mere smoke. Yet there is no smoke without fire. The fire which ignites religious violence is provocation and compelling Muslim candidates to write examinations during the Jumu’ah period while Christians are not subjected to the same treatment on Sunday constitutes extreme provocation. It is religious persecution per se.
“MURIC’s vision of Nigeria is that of a nation where people of all faiths are treated the same way; where Christians, Muslims and traditionalists live together in peace and harmony; a nation in which no one is oppressed; where every citizen enjoys Allah-given fundamental human rights regardless of class, creed, or ethnicity.
“In our concluding remarks, we appeal to WAEC, other examination bodies and agencies to make equal rights and justice a cardinal principle. WAEC has just confirmed that its timetable is not ready yet.
“This implies that there is still ample time to plan its Friday subjects in such a way that it gives enough room for Muslims to go to the mosque and return without being put under undue pressure.
“The Friday question is very sensitive among Muslims and it is our humble opinion that WAEC will be engendering peace in Nigeria if it avoids fixing examinations during the Friday Jumu’ah prayer in all its future examinations.”