The Taraba State Muslims Council has accused Governor Darius Ishaku of marginalisation of Muslims in the state.
The council, which represents the interest of Muslims in the state, raised concerns over the Ishaku-led government’s marginalisation of Muslims in terms of political appointment and employment.
Before the accusation, unlike the Christian organisation, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which had always been vocal on issues in the state, the Muslim Council hardly voiced out its concerns.
The recent appointment of 12 permanent secretaries by Gov Ishaku, who are all Christians, attracted a general outcry from Muslims in the state.
On Friday, the council addressed newsmen at its secretariat in Jalingo and accused Gov Ishaku of marginalising Muslims in the state.
The acting Chairman of the council, Alhaji Chindo M.D. Bose, who spoke on behalf of the council, alleged that employment and appointment into key government positions, including scholarship, were exclusively reserved for Christians despite the large population of Muslims in the state.
The council also disclosed figures of some of the appointments, which it alleged were lopsided and done deliberately to favour Christians.
Alhaji Chindo explained that recently the governor appointed 12 permanent secretaries, but that to the dismay of the Muslim community no single Muslim was among them.
He said out of 25 commissioners appointed by the governor only seven were Muslims, while only 54 out of 221 special advisers appointed by the governor were Muslims.
The Muslim Council also alleged that the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), the Head of Service (HoS), the Chief Judge (CJ), the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the Chief of Staff (CoS) were all Christians.
Alhaji Chindo further said, “All heads of state-owned tertiary institutions and the heads of state-owned media houses are all Christians.”
The state government-owned tertiary institutions, according to the council, which are all headed by Christians despite qualified Muslims in the service to head some of them, include Taraba State University, Taraba State College of Education, Taraba State College of Agriculture, Taraba State Polytechnic and the School of Nursing.
He said, “To our dismay, despite the presence of very senior directors among Muslims in the state civil service who are qualified to be appointed permanent secretaries no single Muslim was appointed as permanent secretary.”
The council also expressed dismay over the refusal of Gov Ishaku to appoint additional khadis for the Sharia Court of Appeal, adding that the court could not sit to entrain appeals because of lack of quorum.
Alhaji Chindo said, “It would be recalled that since the death of the state’s grand khadi last year the court was left with only two khadis, which means less than a quorum for a sitting.”
He explained that there were several attempts by the council to redress the ugly situation, but that the governor continued on the path of excluding all Muslims from the scheme of things.
He further said, “The marginalisation of Muslims in the state caught the attention of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) last year, but the governor never listened to anybody.”
The council, therefore, called on Gov Ishaku to stop running the affairs of the state with favouritism and make his government an inclusive one.
Alhaji Chindo said, “The governor should recognise the diversity of the people in the state and promote a sense of belonging to all irrespective of tribal and religious backgrounds of the people.”
The council advised the governor to comply with Section 192(2) and 14 (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and adhere to his oath of office by which he swore to always do right to all manner of people without fear or favour.
However, the government, in a swift reaction over the alleged marginalisation of Muslims, also addressed the press on Saturday.
The Commissioner for Information, Barr Danjuma Adamu, and the CoS to the Governor, Istifanus Haruna Gbana, described the allegation as a total falsehood aimed at causing religious and political tension in the state.
Barr Adamu who read the text of the briefing, claimed that the appointments of the permanent secretaries were made on merit and seniority without any sentiment attached.
He said Gov Ishaku had always been fair to all people of the state irrespective of their religious and ethnic backgrounds.
Adamu further stated that Gov Ishaku had always promoted peaceful co-existence among the people, and that as a result Taraba was now enjoying relative peace.
He said, “It is wrong for the Muslim Council to accuse the governor of marginalising Muslims after the same council had in December, during Christmas homage in Takum, commended the governor for his fairness and equity in handling the state’s affairs.”
On his part, the CoS, Mr Gbana, said the Muslim Council seemed to be ignorant of the constitutional provision and laid procedures in making appointments.
He said Gov Ishaku had always been fair to all, including Muslims, which even the council had acknowledged.
He said, “Gov Ishaku sponsored the highest number Muslims to Hajj pilgrimage, and you can check; there is no any governor that sponsored many Muslim faithful to the Holy Land than Gov Ishaku.”
He said there were better options for the council to channel their complaints than addressing the media, which he noted was very ridiculous.
However, the majority of Muslims in the state commended the council for the courage and for drawing the attention of the world on the difficult situation they were passing through in the state.
“Our children are not offered employment because employment is offered secretly, and it is no longer news that whenever employment into the civil service is made or there is an empowerment programme, hardly do you find 20 Muslims employed,” a resident of Jalingo, Tanko Sani, said.