Nigerians have an unenviable reputation for impunity. Whether as neighbours, in homes or offices, on the road, at social gatherings and even in places of worship, most Nigerians freely display their instincts of disregard for anything noble and decent.
And when this negative disposition is spiced with the liberties democracy guarantees, as manifest in the freedom of expression, worship and all such niceties, people tend to easily abuse the state and the citizenry. It is not just commonplace in this part of the world, but sometimes, oddly celebrated.
Nigeria is facing another obvious threat to public peace and security by the planned protest on Monday, October 10, 2016 by members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) also known as the Shiites led by Sheik Ibraheem EL Zakzakky. The aim is to hide under the canopy of the democratic freedom of expression and assembly to perhaps, violently mindlessly breach public peace and security.
The Shiites design is to crudely stir the sympathy of the international community to secure the release of their grand master, EL Zakzakky from the custody of security agents. If this news is true, it means, the Shiites have astonishing guts and impunity.
EL Zakzakky earned for himself trouble when a procession of the IMN sect members he leads violently assailed the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Tukur Buratai in Zaria, Kaduna state, in December 2015. The permanently incensed sect members refused all pleas and entreaties to open the thoroughfare for the COAS, who was on official trip to the 73 Regular Recruits Intake of Nigeria Army Depot, Zaria to proceed to his destination.
Unfortunately still, the intervening phone call to EL Zakzakky by Kaduna state Governor Nasir el Rufai to prevail on his sect members, who were not provoked in any way, to allow the COAS and his entourage passage were also rebuffed. The ensuing clash left scores dead. (May the souls of these Nigerians rest in perfect peace).
But since the incident, there have been series of actions. Governor el-Rufai immediately set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) to probe the incident. It has submitted its report and the process of issuing a white paper is in progress. Also, The National Human Rights Commission in Nigeria (NHRC) has also made inquest into the matter.
Strikingly though, verdicts from these two independent bodies on the incident are similar, with the Shiites and its Leader in Nigeria were repeatedly blamed and held responsible for its unrestrained acts of violence. The report submitted articulately that El Zakzakky “should therefore be held responsible, fully investigated and prosecuted.” The NHRC concurred with the JCI findings.
The JCI was elaborately explicit that El-Zakzakky has been found culpable for the lawless acts of his sect members because they owe total allegiance to him. Parts of the report also alluded to years of violent impunity by the Shiites in their predominant area of domicile, which the state failed to checkmate overtime. It is of serious concern that a religious sect could be allowed to exercise its liberty in such a destructive manner. It has been a source of worry to many other law-abiding citizens in the country.
It is perplexing that the Shiites rejected the outcomes of both reports, especially the call for El Zakzakky’s trial and rather argued for his outright release.
An elaborate press statement from the Media Forum of IMN, by its President, Mr. Ibrahim Musa, anchored arguments for the release of their leader mainly on his long detention.
A recent inciting statement by the redeployed Iranian envoy to Nigeria, Ambassador Saeed Koozechi, to the effect that “Nigeria is pouring fuel on fire,” with the continued detention of El Zakzakky, the sect members have become deeply ennobled. They have been staging protests in some parts of the North to compel the release of their leader.
But as the IMN members contemplate a mega protest, there are several traps on their path. The greatest hurdle which shall continue to be their nightmare is the declaration of the IMN as an unregistered organization and therefore, an unlawful society, which has no locus standi to operate in Nigeria. The Kaduna State Government gave the order a few days ago.
Spokesman of the Kaduna State Governor, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, averred in a statement that the order was issued based on the decision of the State Executive Council.
The State Government also lamented IMN’s accustomed impunity and proclivity to violence, revealing that the IMN sect has a paramilitary wing; while the sect members have outright disregard for the laws of Nigeria.
Indicting the Shiites further, the statement said despite the IMN/Army clash in Zaria, leading to the loss of 347 lives, the sect members have continued with their unlawful acts of open processions, obstruction of public highways and occupation of public facilities in a blatant abuse of laws of the land and the rights of other citizens and the public’s right to peace and security.
– Doki, an independent publisher wrote from Makurdi, Benue State.