Muslim Rights Concern Urges Christian Clerics to Caution Against Fireworks
Nigerian Christians will join their counterparts all over the world to celebrate Christmas tomorrow, Sunday 25th December, 2016.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) wishes Nigerian Christians a peaceful and happy celebration.
As we send our goodwill message, we find it necessary to tell ourselves some hard truths. While every Nigerian wishes to enjoy the Christmas holidays in a peaceful and crime-free environment, we must deliberately work towards creating a conducive atmosphere for peaceful celebration.
In this regard, we call attention to the terrifying fireworks phenomenon which always characterizes yuletide and its implications for crime and peaceful celebration of Christmas. Our observations are devoid of any religious prejudice. They are borne out of sincere concern for the safety of Nigerians, particularly for a successful and peaceful Christmas celebration.
Firecrackers often cause real fire outbreaks leading to loss of lives and properties. They also cause injuries to the users and their neighbours. Fireworks also aid crime. This is why the Nigerian Police always warns citizens to avoid using it. Although this warning is always repeated particularly around yuletide, it has remained unheeded up till now.
We are surprised that churches have remained silent over this potent threat for a long time. We remind Christian leaders that church-goers are also possible victims of violent crime. It is therefore high time Christian clerics showed interest and speak out against the use of fireworks during yuletide. There is likely to be a change of attitude if churches speak out against it. This is how religious leaders can help in combating crime in society.
We all want to enjoy peace in our homes. This can only be possible if the rate of crime is reduced. But the police cannot fight crime alone. They need information from citizens. Unfortunately the use of knockouts blocks information.
For instance, robberies can be nipped in the bud if neighbours hear the sound of gunshots and call the police. But this becomes almost impossible in communities where knockouts are used indiscriminately. This is so because knockouts sound exactly like gunshots and people mistake real gunshots for knockouts. Therefore nobody will call the police and criminals get away with their loot. Even policemen on patrol also find it difficult to distinguish between real gunshots and knockouts. This is how knockouts militate against quick response by the security agencies.
Armed robbery and kidnapping are the most common and most devastating crimes in the Nigerian society today. Therefore something should be done if we can identify the use of knockouts as a social cankerworm which aids and abets these two deadly crimes in a particular season.
We note with serious concern that both adults and children indulge in this pastime. Parents even give their children money to purchase firecrackers. This is not only infantile but runs contrary to all known principles of loco parentis. We appeal to Nigerian parents to behave responsibly and to guide their children towards productive habits.
Petty traders are advised to divert their capital to productive merchandise and desist from trading in goods capable of facilitating armed robbery, killing, maiming and kidnapping. The next victim may be members of the trader’s family.
The security agencies should also be more proactive by fishing out distributors and sellers of fireworks and prosecuting them. This will act as deterrent for others.
While this may be seen as tackling the symptoms and not the disease, we need to go to the root of the matter. Where do the fireworks products come from? Who manufactures them? How do they enter this country? This is where our customs men at the nation’s sea ports and land boarders must come in. Bundles of fireworks which are later sold on the streets do not descend from the sky. They remain illegal goods and should not be allowed to come in through our boarders.
The Federal Government has a role to play here because the buck stops at its table. Somebody must pay and must really be seen to have paid for any laxity on this matter. It is about the life of Nigerians and it should be taken seriously. Heads must roll at the customs if banned products still find their way into the country.
On a final note, we call for more cordial relationship between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria. Religion without love is sheer cultism. We must learn to peacefully coexist, to love, to tolerate and to forgive one another.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)