Shiites: Another Boko in the making?

Posted by Ademola Orunbon | 28 July 2019 | 994 times

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•Nigerian Shiites during a procession

The incessant deadly clashes between government troops, police force and Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), known as Shi’ite Muslim, have raised fears that another conflict is about to get out of hand in the country.

However, recently the table has turned, the table turned because events have shown that there is a conspiracy to emasculate the police to the advantage of law breakers. After all, before now, for a group of people to embark on any procession that is likely to affect the freedom and business of members of the public, they must apply to the police to enable the police plan, monitor and prevent hoodlums from hijacking such protests.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s government stands accused of abusing human rights and oppressing a minority group after clashes every now and then, especially between the Shi’ite group and the government, in which scores of people were killed including a Channel TV journalist, Precious Owolabi, and deputy commissioner of Police, Usman Umar. Shi’ites’ problem is the continuing detention of their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and shooting and killing many of their members by the police force in the process of calling on government to free their leader, who has been in detention since December 2015.

Nigerians all over the country are increasingly worried that the IMN could turn into a second Boko Haram. Though the movement itself denies any plans to take up arms. IMN spokesman, Ibrahim Musa, has said it before now, rejecting analogies between his movement and Boko Haram. He further stated that the Islamic Movement is guided by and led by the principle of Islam, and Islam is a religion of peace. And perhaps, only calls on people to understand it, that it doesn’t force people to follow its doctrines and ideologies.

We should be recalled that Boko Haram also started as a non-violent group that now turned deadly after its leader, Muhammad Yusuf, was killed by the police in 2009. And since then, the central authorities have learned nothing from what happened in the north east. Instead of listening to these people and trying to address their problems, they come up and start shooting people, and radicalising the group will only lead to more violence and aggravate their militancy, maiming and killing of people including the military forces.

However, it has now come to a stage where dialogue alone will not be enough to solve a problem which has international dimension and undertones. I have no doubts that Saudi Arabia and Iran are engaged in a proxy war in Northern Nigeria, as they are in Yemen.

For me, responsibility lies primarily with the Nigerian government. The government must follow the rule of law and comply with court ruling that ordered El-Zakzay and his wife be released. The cleric, who is in his mid-sixties, has lost the sight in one eye during the 2015 clashes, and has only been seen in public twice or thrice since he was detained by the Department of Security Services (DSS). What are they doing in the custody of DSS for four years, after he has been granted bail by two or three separate courts of the country? He and his wife are said to be in poor health.

This piece by Ademola Orunbon, who wrote from Abeokuta, Ogun State, originally appeared in today’s edition of The Nation.


Source: News Express

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