By Yusif Abdullahi
As a concerned citizen that contributes his best to the progress of the nation in a multi – faceted dimension, I want use my constitutional right to express my view, and to draw the attention of those in authority on the above subject.
Although, I have read and listened to a lot similar views by people of different geographical and tribal backgrounds which the government seemingly turned a deaf ear to, yet I decided to make my view public in the interest of the nation hoping to be listened in acclaimed democratic setting mandated to respond to the needs and yearnings of the citizenry. Most recent of such calls were those of Dr. Gumi, Shaikh Maraya, Pastor Buru and Shaikh Hamza Lawal among others. As citizens, we should have equal opportunity, as any person might occupy the capacity of any political office holder sooner or later.
Unlike in the ideal situation, where fundamental human rights are protected and human life dignified, in countries like Nigeria the situation is different. I don’t intend to be graphical regarding the Zaria massacre or what is popularly referred to Military/Shiite clash in which the former alleged road blockage, assassination attempt and arms possession, which the latter refuted completely referring the attack as predetermined completely. The aim is to ensure rule of law, peaceful coexistence and prevalence of justice in the country. Notwithstanding the fact that the case is before the two Federal High Courts of justice at Kaduna and Abuja, and the International Criminal Court ICC, I see it as a duty to tell the bitter truth with the hope that the authorities will take the right measures for the good of our father land. In contrast to the worst military clamp down on the IMN leader by the Nigerian military, the Shaikh ought to be respected, dignified and protected by the authorities not for his citizenship but his apparent sterling qualities that are instrumental to the unity and peaceful coexistence of the country.
PEACEFUL CO -EXISTENCE
Given the volatile nature of the country, the Shaikh is widely credited for unequalled role in the promotion of peaceful coexistence and ethno – religious tolerance. The measures he adopted made tremendous impact in the Muslim / Christian relations not only in Zaria or Kaduna where his house is considered safe abode to ethno – religious crises victims, but throughout Nigeria. During the 2011 post presidential violence, the medical wing of his movement provided first aid and medical care to innocent victims irrespective of tribal and religious inclinations in a number of northern states. Every Ramadhan, the Shaikh would play host to non Muslim visitors at his residence as he honours their invitations in specific functions such as book launch. His stand is worthy of emulation as no development is possible under a situation of general chaos and bloodshed.
DEEP CONCERN ON ALL NIGERIANS
In the 25th July, 2014 military attack on the IMN where 34 people including 3 undergraduate sons of the Shaikh were brutally murdered in cold blood, a Christian elder, Julius Anyawu was among the victims. The Shaikh sent a high powered delegation to attend his burial and sympathize with his family and community. And on his orders, the IMN took care of the Christian sister that sustained injuries until she recovered completely. The sympathetic remark of the insightful shaikh during the National disaster when tens of Nigerian soldiers lost their lives in a ghastly motor accident while returning from Niger republic is still enlightening!
Nigeria with its diverse nature suffers unending ethno – religious crises triggered by unscrupulous elements to achieve economic and political ends, regardless of huge loss of lives and property. The crises of that dimension owe their origins to socio – economic problems which steadily and violently explode. Interestingly, the IMN was never found wanting in such unfortunate crises of vandalism and bloodshed. Another good approach towards understanding and peaceful co – existence of Nigerians by IMN is the commemoration of the birthday of great Prophet of Allah, Isah, peace be upon him, observed on 25th of Zulqaadah according to the narration of Ahlul – bait. In the event, annually organised by the Youth Forum of the IMN, his virtues are extolled for emulation and Christians are invited to share the Islamic view on the Messiah.
DISCIPLINE OF THE SHAIKH’S DISCIPLES
A prominent professor has described IMN as the most organized Muslim group in Nigeria. The disciples of the Shaikh as Muslims abide by the teachings of Islam on his guidance. As such, they run their activities in more or less the same way not only in Nigeria but wherever you find them. This could be established evidently with those on studies at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in the Asian and African sub regions. The movement has recently congratulated about 30 members on promotion to the ranks of professors, Associate professors and for successful completion of PhD’s, M. A’s and M. Sc’s. This is not unconnected with the Shaikh’s insistence on the uncompromising need for versatile knowledge acquisition. Since Zaria massacre when the IMN claimed that about 1000 of its members were murdered including those tortured and burnt alive, the Movement consistently calls for unconditional release of its leader, his wife and other members from custody, release of the members’ corpses buried in mass graves – as ascertained by the Judicial Commission of Enquiry established by the Kaduna state government – for proper Islamic burial, compensation for its destroyed facilities and bringing to book the perpetrators of the heinous crime. Since, the unfortunate incidence, individuals, civil liberties organisations, human rights activists and diplomatic corps continued to call for the unconditional release of the Shaikh and full compensation, but the authorities have amazingly refused to respond. Sayyid Muhammad, the only surviving son of the shaikh has recently cautioned the authorities on the deteriorating health of the revered shaikh. But for the discipline and foresight of its members, the IMN could have violently reacted to the crimes against humanity looking at the extent of provocation.
The Sallah feast is an annual occasion hosted by the IMN using the opportunity to exchange views with other participants drawn from various fields of human endeavors. In the last event, the Shaikh spoke on societal reform as a collective responsibility. Important dignitaries attended the occasion including Islamic scholars, pastors, educationists – with a sitting minister of this administration. The feast observed the need for people to play their moral role not fold their hands waiting for savior without emphasis on the proportionate deeds in reforming the nation.
Imperatively, the 2nd annual Quds day scheduled to hold on 31st July, 2016 at Abuja will feature Honourable Evenzer Oyetakin, Professor Odinkalu Chidi and Barrister Femi Falana (SAN), among other speakers. The annual Quds conference is designed to commemorate the 2014th event which was the 32nd in 35 years in which 34 people were killed by the military after the procession in Zaria. Irrespective of ethno – religious differences, the world witnessed trooping of Nigerians and other nationals to the Shaikh’s Gyallesu residence to commiserate with him over the sad event.
MARTYRS OF THE ISLAMIC MOVEMENT
Although the 25th July, 2014 attack on the IMN was not the first, but was the first of its kind. The Movement lost its first member – Shahid Muhammad Bello – in 1982 as a result of Police attack during the popular Islamic vocational conference (IVC). The second – Shahid Abubakar Shehu Madomawa – was killed at Katsina on the 19th April, 1991 when a peaceful procession was staged to protest a FUNTIMES blasphemous article in 1991. The statistics given by the MARTYRS FOUNDATION of the IMN after the 12 – 14th December Zaria massacre was about 1000 with over three thousand dependents!
With the obvious challenges of this administration especially in the southern part with confrontational groups and its incapacity to contain, it is paradoxical to clampdown on IMN which is absolutely peaceful. And the need for the administration to respond to the call of many Nigerians is very necessary. In any democratic setting where the majority leads, minority’s rights are equally protected. To be frank and sincere, using all criteria the unconditional release of the shaikh should not be dismissed especially with his deteriorating health. As a Muslim most importantly, I believe that Allah prohibited oppression and injustice and every one will account for his/her deed here and hereafter. No doubt, the IMN whose members run to tens of millions and other well meaning Nigerians deserve to be listened immediately! Free Zakzaky!