If there was ever a Conference that the EFCC, ICPC, CCB, CCT and DSS at the Federal Level, anti-corruption agencies at State Levels and anti-corruption CSOs should have attended and participated in was the one last week on “Islam, Muslims and the Fight Against Corruption in Nigeria” jointly organised by the Islamic Welfare Foundation (IWF), Ilorin, and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) at Bayero University, Kano (BUK).

This was a conference where top level academicians researched into and proffered solutions to the ‘menace’, ‘cancer’ and ‘cankerworm’ of corruption from an Islamic perspective. It was a real ‘academic brainstorm’. It is hoped that the anti-corruption agencies will hasten to get the papers or, better still, cause the proceedings to be promptly published. Conference Rapporteur Umar Jibril Gwandu, one-time journalist on this newspaper and now lecturer at BUK’s Mass Communication Department, summarises the Conference:

Nigeria’s position on the global index on corruption has been perennially and persistently gloomy. The level of corruption in the country in various sectors of human endeavour has transcended the imagination of mortals. It is on record that the key area the present administration focuses most attention to is the fight against corruption in all its ramifications. Inspired, therefore, by the dogged determination of Government in that direction, the IIIT Nigeria Office and the Ilorin-based IWF deemed it fit to collaborate and organise this Conference as a timely event to serve as a platform to clarify, qualify and demonstrate the position of Islam and Nigerian Muslims with regard to this important national issue.

All contributors at the opening, including Conference Chairman former Education Minister and former Kano Governor Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, Sardaunan Kano; BUK Vice Chancellor Professor Muhammad Yahuza Bello; Chairman IIIT Nigeria Board of Directors, Dr. Bashir Galadanchi; and keynote speaker world-renowned Law Professor Auwal Yadudu, described the Conference as a timely event which provided platform to clarify and demonstrate the position of Islam and the Nigerian Muslims with the regard to this important national issue, corruption, and agreed that the outcome of the Conference would tremendously contribute in the fight against corruption in Nigeria and beyond.

Further, Professor Yadudu noted that corruption among Nigerian Muslims could not be unrelated to the failure of Muslims to institute functional Islamic measures of fighting poverty, such as Waqf (Endowment). He described corruption as the major obstacle to the development of any society, adding that corruption in all its ramifications must to be fought to the finish.

Other important interventions included those by VC Northwest University, Kano, Professor Mustapha Ahmad Isa, Acting VC Fountain University, Osogbo Professor Abdullateef, Kano State Commissioner of Police Rabiu Yusuf, and the Chief Imam of BUK Shaikh Abubakar Jibril.

Some of the papers presented, the titles of which should catch the attention of the anti-corruption organisations and institutions in the country, include Professor Salisu Shehu’s “Engendering Good Governance: The Perspectives of the Sokoto Jihad Leaders in the Fight against Corruption”; Professor Muhammad Tabi’u’s “Islam’s Multi-Prolonged Approach in Combating Bribery and Corruption”; Abdullahi Saliu Ishola’s and Isa Olawale Solahudeen’s “Curbing the Corruption in Acceptance of Gifts by Judges in Nigeria: Islamic Law and Statutory Safeguards”; and Dele John Olu’s “The Role of Religious Leaders in the Eradication of Corrupt Practices in Nigeria”. Other sector-specific papers included those on corruption in the health care system, in the financial system, in agriculture.

The Conference Communique, signed by Dr. Aliu Badmus for the IWF and Professor Salisu Shehu for the IIIT, observed that corruption spreads in society due to the lack of the transcendent Islamic commandment of amr bil ma’ruf wan nahy anil munkar, or commanding good and forbidding evil as commanded Allah; that corruption as a multi-faceted and multi-dimensional menace, permeates every aspect of our contemporary life; that unfortunately many Muslims are involved in corruption like other Nigerians despite the clear injunctions of Islam against corruption; and that there is still inadequate and gross unawareness about ramifications of corruption in the country.
Conference further observed that the issue of corruption is seen largely as a manifestation of bad leadership, hence the severity of political corruption in Nigeria; that the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is doing well in its fight against corruption and should be supported; that attitudinal problems are inhibiting the required adjustment for us to live as a corruption-free society; and that the country is still ranked high in the index of corruption and low in positive aspects of human development, a factor that has continued to give Nigeria a bad image in the comity of nations.

In its resolutions, Conference participants therefore recommended that, as it is a great shame for Muslims, both leaders and the led, to be found indulging in corrupt practices despite clear Qur’anic and Hadith injunctions against it, Muslims must abide by the teachings of Islam in their daily lives to serve as role models to others; that Muslims should ensure that the fight against corruption should start from our homes.

Further, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), in collaboration with other Muslim organisations, should embark on massive awareness campaign against corruption in the country; that Muslim professional organisations should take all necessary measures within their power to protect the image of Islam and Muslims; Muslim religious leaders should find more effective ways of inculcating Islamic values in the society;

Participants similarly recommended that the present administration should intensify its fight against corruption, without fear or favour, in both public and private sectors; that law enforcement agencies in the country in conjunction with the courts should apply appropriate legal measures to exterminate corrupt practices so as to serve as deterrent to others; and that Nigeria should collaborate with other countries and organizations to strengthen its efforts to restore her image in the comity of nations.

Finally, the question on the tip of the tongues of conference participants was: what next after all this research and academic exercise?

STOP PRESS: Let those who have his ear please tell President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately declare a State of Security Emergency in the matter of Kidnapping and Herder-Farmer clashes. As the President makes headway in the fight against insurgency in the North East, his urgent attention should also be called to this two deadly matters. Just this week more than thirty people were said to have been massacred in Southern Kaduna AFTER a peace treaty was signed by various communities – a crisis said to be linked to the Herder-Farmer problem. Similarly, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) just announced the kidnapping of its Plateau State official Shaikh Abdul’Aziz Yusuf, a man almost 80years old. His kidnappers are already asking for a ransom of sixty million Naira. The traditional rulers, whom we relatively trust more than the political leaders, should immediately visit the president and tell him we are alarmed, wallahi we all are!

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