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Published On: Wed, Jun 4th, 2014

Conversion of Chibok girls: Matters arising therefrom

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By Mansur Lawal Kaware.

On 12th May, 2014, a video clip shown on TV screens relayed the pictures of the girls abducted with the Boko Haram leader as people were made to believe saying the girls have been converted to Islam and were wearing Hijabs, reciting portion of the Holy Qur’an. There were comments from left right and centre over the forceful conversion of the Christians among the abducted girls to Islam. The pains of the Christian parents can be understand in particular and the Christian faithful in general. But one thing worth believing is the reality of the girls’ abduction, but the conversion of the girls to Islam is questionable. Even in the early days of Islam, when wars were waged and cities and empires. Conquered, the people overrun were not forced to convert to Islam. Some of them surrender to Islam when the power was ceased from those in control.

Naturally when power change hands it goes with some attitudinal changes and sometimes it goes to the extent of change in religion. After conquering a particular city the leaders will automatically change, others willing to live in the city have to accept the faith of the new Government since it was the primary reason of the war. That was the practice even before the coming of Islam, during the ancient wars those conquered have to follow, which was the way of living among the people. During the early days of Islam prisoners of war were not forced to accept Islam, they could remain with their faiths and could even pay for their freedom and go back to their people withoutn converting to Islam.

Those who lived under Islamic government remaining on to their faith were asked to pay a special kind of tax (Jizyah) for the protection they received from the government. The Qur’anic injunction says that “there is no compulsion in Religion” is very truely. Islam held this position because anything that came through force does not last long except if agents of coercion are used, to enforce it. The logic is that one is expected to act on his own because it makes him to conduct himself freely without any supervision. Take an example of Muslims fasting. Individuals abstain from eating and drinking even as they remained in their rooms with bread and butter on the table. The faithful commitment also makes a Muslim who live in a village to go to town on Friday for the Friday prayer as it makes a Christian travel to a Church on Sunday if there is none at his place of abored. Therefore to force the girls in to conversion to Islam is like pushing the mountain from its fixed position, because faith is in the heart and not on the cloth one wears or any other object one hangs on any part of his body.

On 29/4/2014 the abducted girls were alleged to have been married off to their captors at a dowry of N2,000 naira, on 9/5/2014 the Boko Haram leader threatened to sell-off the girls and on 18/5/2014 the group threatened to abduct male students from Benue State and marry the girls-off to them compelling the IGP to order more security at Benue Schools on 19/5/2014. The girls were said to be divided and moved to Cameroun, Chad and some were reported to have been sighted in Central Africa. Cameroonian authorities denied that some of the girls are in that country, and President Jonathan had on 9/5/2014 confirmed that the girls are in Nigeria. Therefore, the issue of these girls has been turned into a sort of riddles and jokes. We only hope that the present manhunt for the girls could yield some positive results, as other countries of the world came-in to assist.

It needs to be understood that the abductors of these girls as well as the killings and destruction of lives and properties of Nigerians did not conform with teaching of Islamic religion or Christianity, not even atheism, as such their claims of acting as Muslims should be discarded. While they continue to kill and destroy lives and properties of Nigerians the effort of rescuing the Chibok School girls should be given serious attention. President Jonathan has ruled out negotiation with Boko Haram, UK has conquered with him, as its foreign and commonwealth office’s Press Officer Pasquale LaManne and the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Mr. William Hague have on 25/5/2015 said negotiation with terrorists can bring more abductions. Nigerians are waiting to see how the unfolding Scenario will work out as the CDS Air Marshal Alex Badeh on the other hand told some protesters who took the Chibok case to defence Headquarters Abuja on 26/5/2014 that the military will not use force in rescuing the girls. But where possible we think discussing with the abductors over the girls may not be out of place to secure their release, steps could then be taken to prevent future occurrence. This will be in the sprit of the fact that it is better to free criminals than to punish an innocent person.

However, in what looks like turn of events, the Minister of Information Mr. Labaran Maku told state House Correspondents on 28/5/2014 that the “bring back Chibok girls” campaign was meant to ridicule Jonathan administration. Mr. Maku dismissed it as APC design alleging that 90% of the protesters are members of the party. To understand the issue properly Mr. Maku needs to place himself in the shoes of the parents of the abducted girls, how will he feel, if his daughter is in the hands of the captors? And some one insisted for her release while another person is joking with same? Mr. Information Minister should first join hands with the President and other stakeholders to bring the girls back, if there is another protest after their release he can then respond in the like manner. In what resembles an action following Maku’s statement, an allegedly pro-Jonathan protesters attacked a group led by Ms. Ezekwesili at Unity Fountain Abuja venue of bring back our girls rely on 28/5/2014 with matchets and other dangerous weapons. She said permission was granted by the Police to hold the rally, and wondered that the Police at the venue did nothing to stop the attackers.

 

Mansir Lawal Kaware wrote in from Katsina.

 

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