The non-governmental Islamic group, Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has kicked against the almajiri initiative by Rev. Mathew Kukah.
With the initiative, Rev. Kukah plans to train 10 million almajiri children in Northern Nigeria.
In a press statement issued on Wednesday by its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, MURIC claimed that Kukah’s idea raised more questions than answers.
The group described Kukah’s proposal as “a ploy for proselytisation, modern colonialism and a potential time bomb.”
MURIC said while it agreed that something must be done about the almajiri children, ideas to improve their situation had to be implemented by muslims in the affected region.
It said it would be wrong to entrust Muslim children to the hands of Christian gospellers.
“As far as we are concerned, Kukah’s almajiri dream is a Trojan horse,” the group said.
It added: “These children have teachers even if the system is unconventional. The parents entrusted them to the teachers and learning still takes place somehow. The devil we know is still better than the one we do not know and we expect Rev. Kukah to know better. Can any Christian community allow an Islamic organisation to take their children away just like that? What is the fate of the children taken from Chibok to an Edo IDP centre in 2014?
“Whatever the situation may be, we wish to caution Northern Muslims, particularly the elders, never to allow it to happen. Instead of allowing Christian missionaries to seize this kind of initiative, Northern Muslims should empower available Muslim NGOs to cater for almajiri children.
“We know from experience that whatever happens will be a point of reference in the near future. Who will bear the shame at that time? We therefore advise state governments in the region to rearrange their priorities and concentrate on the education and welfare of almajiri children.”
The group explained that almajiri is essentially a system practised by northern Muslims.
“It is not part of Christendom from North to South. Is Rev. Kukah telling us that he prefers to alleviate poverty among Muslims to doing same among Christians? Is he telling us that he loves to assist Muslims more than he loves to help Christians? Can Rev. Kukah give any guarantee that those children will remain the same at the end of his intervention? It is modern colonialism.
“When did the reverend father suddenly develop so much love for Muslims that he has now decided to give them preference above his Christian folks? Are there no poverty stricken children in the Christian majority Middle Belt particularly in Benue and Plateau? Why can’t he take his project there? This type of project demands trust. No NGO can successfully train children or adults in an atmosphere of mutual distrust,” MURIC said.