By Abdulmumin Giwa
In this rejoinder to an editorial with the above mentioned heading written by the Daily Trust newspaper, it is very important to begin by explaining that there is no such thing as ‘clash’ between members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and the police or any security agency for that matter. What the Daily Trust editorial should be talking about is forceful and violent crackdown on peaceful and unarmed protesters by the police and other security agencies.
Such crackdowns have always been in violation of the rules of engagement governing the security agencies. It is the constitutional right of every citizen to express his grievances peacefully where need arises without seeking any form of authorization from the police. The job of the police is simply to ensure that such protests do not escalate into violence, simple.
More so, the Islamic Movement has always conducted its activities peacefully except when the police decide to make it violent and they clampdown on the protests using heavy arms that include live bullets. As a result of this clampdown on protests, mostly motivated by interest groups within and outside government, over 100 members of the Movement have killed and hundreds others injured by the police during such attacks on peaceful protests. This is not only an infringement on the rights of the protesters but also an infringement on the tenets of democracy in the country. Hence there is no such thing as ‘clash’ with IMN but police or security agencies violence on protestors.
Secondly, the editorial mixed up two separate incidences with the intention of finding a soft landing for the security agencies that messed themselves up, especially the police that molest and torture the members of the Movement and injure a lot of them on arrest irrespective of their sex.
The first incident is the one that took place on the Friday before the week of the violent crackdown by police on the Movement when they took over the Unity Fountain, the venue of the sit out organized by the Concerned Nigerians group calling on the Nigerian government to obey court order and release the leader of the Movement, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky unconditionally.
The police simply informed the organizers of the sit out that it was an order from above that henceforth no more sitting is allowed at the Unity fountain. This also affects other protests like the Bring Back Our Girls, BBOG. The organizers of the sit out asked for reasons why the sitting should not hold at the Unity Fountain and why the police was there in a battle ready mode with horses, dogs, shields, guns teargas and water cannon. No reason was given for that siege. The members of the movement present there at that particular time were less than twenty in all including the Concerned Nigerians group members.
The police dispersed the participants that came for the sit out using teargas. They shot teargas at them with the intention of injuring them with the canisters and about three members of the movement were injured with the canisters of teargas. The police even shot teargas at the vehicles of the participants with the intention of setting them on fire. They also arrested the Concerned Nigerians convener, Deji Adeyanju after they have dispersed everybody and everybody left the place including Deji. It was when Deji went back with an IMN member to collect his car from the place later that he was then arrested by the commissioner of police who shouted at him asking him what business he has with the Shias. That was briefly what happened on that day to which I am an eye witness.
The second incident was the one that members of the Movement went on Monday to start a protest march towards the headquarters of the National Human Rights Commission. The police blocked all roads leading to the place refusing the protesters any exit and they were so pressed by the police using teargas, water cannon and live bullets on them that they had to press the police back, hence what followed. There too the police killed one, injured several others and arrested many.
Also, the police never mentioned to the organizers of the sit out that there were military chiefs from all over Africa and USA at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel for which they wanted the sit out to relocate elsewhere as claimed by the FCT Police Commissioner Sadiq Bello. If they had done that everything would have been different. There was a time the sit out was informed that there was going to be a presidential event at the same hotel and that the whole area is going to be cordoned off. The sit out was relocated to Berger Junction on that day.
More so, as he was trying to insinuate, there was no participant anywhere in or around the premises of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel as everyone, including the battle ready police, were inside the Unity Fountain.
He also claimed that some vehicles parked by some residents were damaged by the protesters, which is also false. They were actually damaged by the police who shot teargas canisters at them and there are even glasses of some buildings that were shot at with live bullets by the rampaging police in the area.
Concerning the editorial statement that the government should not breed another Boko Haram says a lot. It is clearly depicting the government as the actual creator and founder of terrorist organizations in the country. It was government that actually founded Boko Haram and is using it for its own political as well as diplomatic gains.
The editorial should have observed that there is no single terrorist organization in the world today that is Shia. Boko Haram, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabab, ISIS and all others are all Sunni and not Shia. All terrorist organizations are Sunni/Wahhabi/Salafists and not Shia. This is because the Shia do not succumb to intimidation by enemies to the extent of reacting violently or becoming emotional and sentimental. To the Shia life is sacred and they can never be pushed into terrorism even by virtue of the Shia concepts of leadership-followership principles.
Shia is unlike the Sunni where everyone can be on his own. In Shia you have to be a follower or a leader and this is called ‘Muqallid’ and ‘Mujtahid’ respectively. It is difficult to found a terror organization under Shia concept of Islam in the manner in which they are founded under Sunni.
We are aware that the Nigerian government under President Muhammadu Buhari as the editorial has rightly mentioned is deliberately planning to breed another terrorist organization that is Shia-based as part of the agreements of flushing out the faith by implicating a phobia against Shia and against Iran. The government is contracted by a clan of imperialists made up of America, Israel and Saudi Arabia to do the bid for them in return of political power and diplomatic protection.
The Saudis play a major role of sponsoring Shia phobia in Nigeria using the Wahhabi half-baked scholars. They concoct a lot of lies and feed the ignorant Muslim populace with the intention of firmly instituting hatred against Shia and subsequently Iran to satisfy the political interest of the imperialists. This is part of their fight against what they call the influence of Iran in Africa.
Just of recent the Crowned Prince of Saudi Arabia, Muhammad bin Sultan mentioned the same thing to the Time Magazine. He claimed that they have finished with Iranian influence by 95% in Africa and one of such is Sheikh Zakzaky who is running a Hizbullah form of Movement and trying to overthrow the Nigerian government. This implies that they are the sponsors of the crackdown on the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.
The Nigerian government’s fight against the Shia is a project and is pre-planned and the Nigerian leaders are involved. The government is illegally keeping the leader of the Movement, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky in detention even as a competent court of jurisdiction in Nigeria has ordered his unconditional release and compensation. They are doing this to instigate his followers into violence from which they will take over and continue to manage a terror group the way they founded Boko Haram and are managing it.
The government has been intimidating the movement beyond limits but the movement has remained focused, resolute and unchallenged. They even have their mercenaries in the movement that they want to use in making the Movement act violent.
Hence members of the movement are simply victims of a global effort of suppressing Iran from being accepted by the almost two billion Muslims in the world as a guide and leader as this will affect the global hegemony and influence of the imperialist powers.
To achieve this, they go about killing Shia groups in Saudi Arabia where a Shia leader Sheikh Nimr an Nimr was murdered by the authorities, they destroyed Iraq, they killed people in Bahrain, Yemen and even Syria and just of recent Qatar all in the name of fighting against the influence of Iran. They spread propaganda and blackmail Shia and Iran whereas the relationship between the Shias and Iran is nothing more than that of the Catholics in Nigeria and Rome or the Wahhabi and the Saudi regime. It is simply about solidarity and brotherhood in faith.
The imperialists negotiated with the Nigerian leaders and are using them as stooges in achieving their aims at the extent of the lives of Nigerians, like the over 1000 unarmed men, women and children extra-judicially killed by the Nigerian Army under the stupid pretext that they blocked the way of the Chief of Army Staff in December 2015. It is all about proxy and the government in its incompetency acting as a stooge.
In brief, the government can never breed the Islamic Movement in Nigeria into becoming a terrorist organization no matter the amount of oil money it’s agents source from Saudi Arabia. We know the greedy governors, executives and others both in government and religious circles that are part of the deals.
The act of contempt of court by the Nigerian government is not the only thing that portrays the government in bad light as suggested by the editorial. The brute manner in which the government descended on the Movement during the December 2015 massacre in Zaria depicts the act of government as state terrorism. The soldiers during the killing spree of unarmed civilians used unimaginable force on them. They burned people alive, they buried people alive and they physically molested them. They even went round shooting at close range and killing already helpless injured persons that would have simply been arrested and handed over to the police.
Imagine this kind of brutality. There are hundreds of lucky survivors that are ready to give account of these terror-laden acts by the army. These are part of the things investigated directly by the Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Islamic Human Rights Commission of London and all their reports indicted the army for its violation of its rules of engagement.
The said blocking of the convoy of COAS is only dramatic and can never justify the mass murder of hundreds that were not in the scene of the incident. Majority of those the Army killed during the attack were not killed at the scene of the incident at Hussainiyya Baqiyyatullah along Sokoto road in Zaria where the said blocking of the convoy took place. They were killed in Gyallesu several kilometers away from the scene while others that took refuge at Darur Rahma along Jos road were killed there. What is worse is that they took over 48 hours in that killing spree of unarmed citizens, from 12th to 14th of December 2015. The issue is not that of blocking the COAS but that of deliberate and pre-planned genocide against the members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.
Is not just enough for the Daily Trust editorial to call for the release of Sheikh Zakzaky, there is more to it. The perpetrators of the killings must be fished out and punished accordingly. This is where the International Criminal Court, ICC comes in for which based on facts before it has since escalated the charges from preliminary examination to preliminary investigation. The facts are solid and the Nigerian government jitters. The revered Sheikh Zakzaky must be freed by the Nigerian government and the government on its part the government must learn to respect the judiciary and stop acting on sentiments and impunity as all Nigerians have the right to practice any faith of their choice. The Nigerian president must learn to belong to nobody and also belong to everybody and to stop his plan of breeding another terrorist organizatioon that is Shia based.