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NYSC introduces Sharia Law in FCT camp, Corps members, marketers set for showdown




The authorities of the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC) have introduced Sharia code at its Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Orientation Camp in Kubwa. Under the new dispensation, the sale of alcoholic drinks in the camp is prohibited, while female and male corps members are also forbidden from socialising.
The measures were introduced by the newly-appointed FCT Coordinator, Mallam Bello Balama, which an official said were aimed at sanitising the camp. The official however, did not state what had gone wrong.
It was learnt that Balama introduced Shari practice in the camp because he said that it is sinful for him as Muslim to head a camp where alcohol is sold. The AUTHORITY gathered that Balama warned the camp officials and corps members that anyone who is seen with any form of alcohol would be decamped or sacked.
Sources said that the Camp Coordinator boasts that he had succeeded in imposing the Sharia system at the Zamfara and Kaduna NYSC camps, where he presided over before his new assignment, adding that he was on a divine mission to the FCT.
Balama allegedly warned the corps members and staff members against any form of socialisation between male and female. Under the no socialisationagenda, Ballama allegedly implements it with the slogan: “No man, No Woman”.
Critics of his approach claimed that he is breaching the operational guidelines of the NYSC as well as abandoning the vision of the founding fathers to foster unity, tolerance and integration among Nigerian youths, and instead pursuing ethnic and religious motives.
They said that this was the first time in the history of the NYSC that a coordinator was thwarting the policy guidelines of the scheme in the FCT on the ground of religion despite all the Muslims that had in the past presided as coordinators.
When The AUTHORITY visited the camp, it was discovered that some of the corps’ members who had no access alcoholic drink resorted to taking hard drugs, which they smuggled into the place.
The founding fathers of the NYSC adopted the camp markets (otherwise called Mammy Markets) where the corps members and officials who include the soldiers, Man O’ War, Civil Defence, police and others relax after the strenuous activities of the day, including the purchase of food and other provisions.
Investigations revealed that there is no law restricting the sale of any alcoholic beverage by the NYSC as the bye-laws stipulate the punishment of 20 to 30 minutes drill for any corps member who gets drunk.
According to the NYSC bye-laws, Section 3 (1)(f) “any member found to be drunk shall be tried by the Camp Court and, if found guilty, be liable to extra drill and/or confinement to the camp rehabilitation room for 30 minutes”.
So, the founding fathers of the scheme strategically planned the operations like the military. Every corps member and camp officials are adults who have the right and freedom of choice.
* Corps members, marketers set for showdown with Balama
Already, the corps members, who described the camp as dull and the camp marketers, who are counting their losses, have vowed to vent their anger on the authorities.
The marketers lamented that after paying between N5,000 to N50,000 depending on the product of sale or service, they were being banned from selling their products.
Private organisations such as NBL and Guinness which usually sponsor social activities in NYSC camps have been told to stay away.
However, it was observed that there is no separation on the basis of sex at the platoons or refectory, but male and female corps members are no longer permitted to hang out together, hold their hands or hug each other.
The AUTHORITY gathered that Balama is having his way because he hails from the same state with the present Director-General (DG) of the NYSC. They are both from Jigawa State and were school mates.
Some aggrieved officials said that the DG has obviously supported all of Balama’s actions, adding that the directors are afraid to caution him to avoid being in the DG’s bad books.
He was posted to the FCT in October 2017, after a short tenure at Zamfara and Kaduna States.
Some corps members and security operatives at the Kubwa camp confirmed that there is a “draconian decree” banning the consumption of alcohol, smoking of cigarette and male and female socialisation in the premises.
Apart from summoning all the NYSC officials in the camp to order them to strictly enforce the new law and deal with anybody who flouts the “decree”, Balama was said to have held a meeting with food and drinks vendors in the camp’s makeshift business hub, and warned them that none of them must engage in the sale of any alcoholic beverage and cigarette.
When The AUTHORITY visited the Kubwa Camp on Monday, coinciding with the swearing-in of the corps members, the atmosphere was tense. Male corps members formed separate clusters, while the females also formed their own clusters.
A visit to the Mami Market showed that the State Coordinator’s decree was already having its negative effects on the camp. All the food and drinks’ vendors said the State Coordinator passed the anti-alcohol law. Some of the corps members at the booths were only seen with soft drinks.
Others who were livid with anger at the “law” insist that it would be in the best interest of the State Coordinator to reverse the policy, stressing that they may be forced to take the law into their hands.
According to them, the State Coordinator has overstepped his bound and was treading on dangerous grounds.
One of the corps members urged the Federal Government to call Balama to order. “How can you explain that most of us came from states in the North Central, South East, South-South and South West and this coordinator wants to impose Sharia law on us.
“He has practically killed a major part of the fun and excitement that is associated with the NYSC orientation camp. I can assure you that we cannot accept this law”.
A female corps member was also piqued at the FCT coordinator for insisting that socialisation between male and female corps members was outlawed. She pointed out that the state coordinator was merely being hypocritical to think that he could stop socialisation between adults in the camp simply because he is imposing his religious ideology.
“I am a Muslim, but I am totally against the policy of this coordinator. How can he say people of other faith should not drink alcohol just because he does not drink?
“And to think that he also wants to regulate socialisation by corps members is, to say the least, childish and hypocritical. We are all adults here and are responsible enough. Nobody should impose his religious ideology on other people. This man should just reverse himself and apologise,” she insisted.
Security operatives in the camp also did not find the FCT Coordinator’s “decree” funny. The operatives who lamented that this was the first time they were experiencing such an imposition in the orientation camp, called on Balama to review the policy.
According to them, the policy has the capacity to inflame the youth corps members and incite them to protest and violence.
The food and drinks vendors at the Mami Market said they were the worst hit by the coordinator’s “decree”. They told the AUTHORITY that they were counting their losses since the “decree” came into effect.
One of the vendors said they had already stockpiled their shops waiting for the corps members to arrive in the camp before the coordinator imposed the Sharia code.
Mallam Balama who reacted to the allegations on telephone confirmed that he actually passed the policy. He notes that he did not see anything wrong with the policy which he said, will bring sanity and decency in the camp.
When The AUTHORITY visited Balama’s office at the Camp Secretariat, some of his aides said that he had just finished with the swearing-in ceremony and had retired to his room to sleep.
Several calls were made to his mobile phone but he did not pick the calls.
Balama had invited The AUTHORITY upon enquiry to come to the camp to see the situation on ground.
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