By: Gabriel Onoja
Famous Jihadists leader in Nigeria, Othman Dan Fodio once admonished mankind with this timeless wisdom; “Conscience is an open wound, only truth can heal it.”
A few days ago, some Nigerians under the umbrella of Borno Elders Forum (BEF) wrote President Muhammedu Buhari (PMB) a brief letter. It expressed half-hearted concerns about the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) or Shiites induced crises with security agents, constituted authority and segments of the Nigerian public.
The BEF letter purportedly signed by its chairman, Ambassador Usman Gaji Galtimari pretended on the face value to counsel the Presidency on the imperative to wade into the simmering Shiites crises for amicable resolution to avoid a repeat of another religious crisis in Nigeria.
But deep down the hearts of the author(s), the contents appropriately reproached government for its “poor’ handling of the Shiites issue and tacitly demanded for a reversal of the decisions government has taken on the abhorrent sect members.
The epistle from these self-styed elders also elaborately instigated this queer Islamists and disguised terrorists to sustain their unlawful affront on the state and a silent voice assured the terror Shiites of the backing of elders of Borno (BEF). But is terrorism religious crisis? No, it can never be one, at least, in the case of Nigeria!
The document markets itself as emanating from elders advertising a Polluted conscience by canvassing for the impossible. And then, it unveiled the elders as possible financiers or sympathizers of terrorism in Nigeria, who are unhappy with the defeat of BHTs by the Nigerian Army. So, they are suspected of clandestine plotting of the nourishment of another sect of Boko Haram successors in the guise of Nigerian Shiites.
The assaults on the sensibilities of Nigerians are becoming too manifold. Just recently, a Federal High Court in Abuja, presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, passed a pervasive judgment on the detained leader of IMN, Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat.
The judge unashamedly ordered the FGN to release El-Zakzaky unconditionally, provide him with a befitting house within 45 days and compensate both with the sum of N25 million each, amounting to N50 million. The judgment speaks more of compelling the FGN to fund the leader of a suspected terror sect with state money.
The excitement the judgment elicited in the camp of the Shiites in Nigeria belittled efforts of the FGN in securing its responsible citizens. IMN spokesman, Ibrahim Musa in a statement loudly proclaimed how the court verdict vindicated the sect’s obviously devious mindset.
Musa lauded, “The judge showed a full grasp of all the issues at stake as he succinctly captured it when he said he viewed the matter to be that of religious intolerance, where a majority Sunnah is oppressing a minority Shi’ah.”
But millions of Nigerians were unhappy with the judgment. A civil society group under the banner of Coalition on Good Governance and Change Initiative (CGGCI), led by its national chairman, Okpokwu Ogenyi, stormed the court premises in thousands protesting the verdict, thus voicing out the collective pains of Nigerians.
It lamented the “dangerous precedence it would have on law enforcement, security, anti-terror fight, terrorism, extremism and secessionist movements in Nigeria.”
While the condemnations and protests of the court verdict lingers, BEF contrived its version of assault and boldly unleashed it on the FGN.
BEF backed the terrorists by this declaration; “From what we read and heard in the print and electronic media, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria has been branded as an insurgency group and therefore outlawed. We see what is happening in Kaduna State as similar to what happened in Borno State back in 2009 leading to a sorry state of affairs in the State.”
The BEF refused to see the terror and atrocities of the Shiite sect on the Nigerian state, but only got worried when the state branded them terrorists and outlawed the group.
May be, to reawaken the Polluted conscience of these perfidious elders, a recount of the terror instincts of the Nigerian Shiites is germane. That the IMN has existed in Nigeria for nearly 40 years, but has not been a lawfully registered organization is bad enough.
Nigerian Shiites have been unrepentantly a torn in the flesh of Zaria people, where its headquarters is domiciled; Kaduna, Kano states and elsewhere in the North where it parades membership. These are facts re-echoed repeatedly.
Each time the IMN sect members embark on their lengthy religious processions, they do not only possess crude and dangerous weapons, including dane guns, but flagrantly abuse laws of the land, harass, intimidate and bully law-abiding citizens. Public complaints against their demonic acts were not addressed and so, they developed a thick, mindboggling and abhorring impunity to attack security agents.
Shiites detestable conduct came to the fore when they had the guts to attack the army in Zaria. Indeed, El-Zakzaky himself ignored calls put across to him by Governor el-Rufai to prevail on his unjustifiably incensed sect members to open the aisle for the army boss.
It is important to note that shiism is not under attack in Nigeria because there are at least two other shiite sects operating peacefully in Kaduna, but IMN has turned itself into a terror group
It is their ready inclination to disregard laws of Nigeria, stick to violence and the display of terror instincts that also led them to brutally confront the police in Kano who attempted to foil their procession from the ancient city of Kano to Zaria for the annual Arbaeen Trek to Zaria, in memory of martyred Imam Husain (AS). This was after Kaduna state officially banned the IMN sect and the police in Kano also slammed a ban on their unlawful processions.
The Kaduna State Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) has disclosed the recalcitrance of Nigerian Shiites in floating details in the report it has submitted to government. Acting on the white paper, the state government adopted the recommendation branding the Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, an insurgent group. “For all intent and purposes, the IMN is an insurgent group and ought to be treated as such,” the white paper noted.
The various violent protests the Nigerian Shiites staged for the release of El-Zakzaky in disregard of constituted authority is a tip of the iceberg. But to decode the terrorists bent of the IMN, the declaration by its alternate leader, Sheik Abdulkadir Koki during the burial of some Shiites members in Kano state unequivocally stated it;
“As followers of Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, we shall never submit ourselves to the dictates of the Nigerian government even if our own lives will be taken away by the forces of its security agents.”
This was after the recently redeployed Iranian envoy to Nigeria, Amb. Saeed Koozechi emboldened the Nigerian Shiites which has sponsorship from Iran’s ISIS, by daring Nigeria’s sovereignty when he said, “Nigeria is pouring fuel on fire,” by the continuous detention of Sheik El-Zakzaky by Nigerian security agents.
In all these acts of malfeasance by Nigerian Shiites, against the Nigerian state, what Borno elders have thought worthwhile to preach is the removal of the tag of terrorists and outlaws which their activities have hung on their necks and government endorsed. The BEF letter failed to make any appeal to the Nigerian Shiites sect members to be law-abiding and respect laws and constituted authority.
This is known trademark of BEF. In the not too distant past, a voice of BEF was only heard tormenting the Nigerian military in the anti-terrorism war with allegations of killing their children (Boko Haram Terrorists). But they have always shied away from even public pretense as in the Shiites case, in pleading for armistice on the part of their Boko Haram terrorists children.
Nigeria is getting increasingly suspicious of BEF, as their voices always resonate on the path of caution in favour of terrorists only when they sense that the military has turned the table against terrorists in the counter-insurgency war. What deranged antics, from destructive elders!
Perhaps, one is prompted to ask whether BEF is scared of reports making the rounds that Nigerian military has inaugurated an inquiry to unveil the real sponsors of BHTs and the pretentious letter is designed to shield their suspected involvement.
Why has BEF not publicly called on remnants of Boko Haram terrotists, their supposed children to surrender their arms and selves to Nigerian Army, but deem it necessary to interfere in the state’s handling of a new terror sect been raised in faraway Kaduna state? Why has charity, in the case of these cursed Borno elders, not beginning at their home state of Borno or is it a ploy to confuse Operation Lafiya Dole from completely flushing out the remnants of terrorists, while BEF secretly provides them with shield in their protective fortresses?
May be, for the first time, BEF is appreciating the selfless efforts of the Nigerian military in decimating Boko Haram. But it does not confer on these so-called elders the liberty to derail, in any guise, the ongoing final onslaught of terrorists in the Northeast and elsewhere in Nigeria.
They must avoid any support to terrorists and bury their diabolical agenda against peace loving Nigerians, whether covert or overt, especially, the Nigerian Shiites logjam in Kaduna and other parts of the North. No terror sect can defeat the state as the Nigerian military has demonstrated. Total obliteration of terrorists in Nigeria now is a project beyond theirs warped senses of gathering political mileage.
Onoja writes from the Coalition Against Terrorism in Jos