By Mahdi Garba
Last Monday, the Kaduna State government officially declared the Islamic movement in Nigeria (IMN) as an insurgent group. The avowal came in a white paper of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the December 2015 massacre that led to the lost of over 700 people.
The pronouncement by Governor Nasiru El-Rufa’i of Kaduna State didn’t came as a surprise to spectators of the incident. The nature of the JCI insinuated by the state government looks more of a faultfinding commission. For, it was peopled by staunch anti-Shia figures as commissioners of the JCI. Also, all parties enjoyed representation except the IMN.
The absence of international and international humanitarian bodies that have been monitoring the incident –the likes of amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Access to Justice, International Committee of Red Cross a nd Red Crescent and many more too numerous to mention was a factor that impels the IMN boycott the commission.
Concurrently, Tuesday 15 December 2015 El-Rufai in a live broadcast in both public and private owned radio stations in Kaduna, Governor El-Rufai compromised his stand where he ordered the demolition of Sheikh Zakzaky’s House, his mother’s graveyard and other properties of the IMN. Declaring the IMN in his first gig after the Zaria massacre as an unlawfully society exposed his plans, which was to be an arbiter in his own case. During the broadcast he didn’t only play the role of an arbiter but also the witness, lawyer and the prosecutor.
When the Kaduna State government inaugurated the Judicial Commission of inquiry in the ‘clash’, most of the commissioners were staunch anti-IMN antagonists. Prof. Umar Labdo, a commissioner has authored two books –Fallacies of Shia and another in Hausa Batancin Shia da Akidojinta calling for a sectarian all out war with the members of Islamic movement. He even called on the government to sack Public servants who adhere to the school of thought , including lecturers and confiscating their schools and other belongings.
The notion of other commissioners like Prof. Auwal Yadudu, Salisu Shehu and Salihu Abubakar is verisimilitude to Prof Labdo’s. Either is Tafseer classes or preaching sessions. To the extent that Salihu Abubakar scorn an invitation to IMN annual Unity week that feature different scholars with diverse view to deliver lectures on Unity.
In an advertorial in The Guardian of January 26, 2016, IMN said that the commission lacks the moral and legal ground to inquire into the ‘clash’.
Consequently, the latest white paper released by the Kaduna State government has posed many questions than answers, though it befuddles no one because initially that was why the JCI was set up looking at it background critically.
Before coming into power Governor Nasiru El-Rufa’i while canvassing for votes left Kaduna for Zaria to condole Sheikh Zakzaky over the death of his 3 undergraduate sons that were killed in july 2014. He unanimously supported the IMN on social media, precisely Facebook and Twitter. Some radical Sunnis in Kaduna State even tagged him ‘Shiite’ that if he won the poll, Kaduna would become a ‘Shiite State’. When asked about his relationship with the Shiites on DITV he said they are his brothers in humanity.
The bone of contention is whether Governor Nasiru El-Rufai was unaware of their ‘insurgent activities’ when he was floundering their corridors during political campaign or not. El-rufai should display their rifles, IEDs, logistics and the tirade of attacks and the list of people lost to the attacks.
If IMN is insurgent group as El-rufai purported then, why are they engaging Nigerian courts and lawyers in their quest for justice? When their rights are been trampled on, sue in a competent court of jurisdiction. The recent vindication of Sheikh El-Zakzaky by Justice Gabriel Kolawole at the Federal High Court, Abuja No. 6 is an indication that the members of the Islamic movement are law abiding citizens. If they are insurgents as El-rufai alleged there leader cannot be held incommunicado without them making any deviant attempt to liberate him.
Summing up, El-Rufa’i should not be taken too serious, for his recent statement negates the aspiration of the IMN. For its four decades of existence, the IMN never towed the path of violence amidst litany of provocation by security operatives and radical Sunni (Wahabi) scholars in consortium with hooligans.
Mahdi writes from Jos and can be reached at Mahdigarba [at] gmail [dot] com