Two newspapers, National Daily of Sunday, 03 August 2014 and The Polity dated 7th August, 2014 ,carried the same story titled, “My sons blood cry for vengeance— El-Zakzaky. For the National Daily it was written by a non-existent reporter in the name of Shehu Dawud, while for the Polity it was merely “By Our Correspondent”.
We believe the story is not only a sponsored campaign of calumny, but also done with the intent of causing more violence. After the Nigerian Army’s merciless massacre of innocent peaceful protesters against Israeli aggression on people of Palestine on Friday July 25, 2014, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria had issued a number of press statements in addition to the press conference by Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky on the issue. Thirty-three (33) people were killed, three (3) of whom were Sheikh Zakzaky’s sons. Among the dead was a 68- year old Christian gentle man Julius Anyawu. Of the 33 killed, 19 were as a result of gun shots, while the remaining 14 were taken alive and tortured to death. Thirty-one (31) people were admitted in hospitals, while 36 were treated of various forms of injuries and discharged. Evidence of these atrocities and many more issues related to the unfortunate incident were posted on the Movement’s English and Hausa websites, www.islamicmovement.org, www.harkarmusulunci.org; English and Hausa newspapers under the Movement, Pointer Express and Al-Mizan, as well as National and International media.
So far, a number of human rights organisations and civil liberty organisations have taken up the matter and are pursuing it through the right avenues. It is therefore surprising that the National Daily and The Polity newspapers in their separate stories, claimed that “a highly informed sources disclosed to them that El-Zakzaky, the leader of Islamic Movement in Nigeria in collaboration with Islamic fundamentalist organization overseas has commenced plans to unleash a new religious unrest across the country any moment from now”.
The following is synopsis of the dangerous allegations made by the National Daily: “National Daily learned that some Islamic faithful close to El-Zakzaky are allegedly working on plans to take violent actions reminiscence to the present Boko Haram insurgence in the country having seized the initiative from their leader, El-Zakzaky…Sheik will make his enemies pay for the blood of his three sons. The faithful will not die in vain… Sheik said the blood of his three sons is crying to heaven for vengeance… There is growing fear that El-ZakZaky supporters may take up arms to protest the killing of El-Zakzaky children, the same way Boko Haram sect took up arms against the Nigeria state when its leader, Mohammed Yusuf was extra-judicially murdered by the Nigeria police…”
In the face of glaring proofs, we believe that the National Daily and The Polity are only but organs being used by the Nigerian military to cover its shame and atrocities that the world is condemning. It is quite true that we are bitter over the killings as normal human beings would have done, and we are ready to take any legal means at our disposal to claim our right. However, at no point in the 35 years history of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria had it taken up arms against the state or anybody. The Islamic Movement in Nigeria under the able leadership of Sheikh Zakzaky is not a making of the state, and therefore cannot be twisted or hijacked. The Movement is composed of people with conscience, focus, mission for social justice and has distinct and exemplary methods of carrying out their activities. It is guided by the divine religion of Islam with a focused and highly reputed revered leadership. It is not a mob that can be manipulated or dragged into armed struggle. The leadership is never influenced by the selfish volitions, personal whims or caprices of the followership but by the aims, objective and principles of the Movement and what it stands for. For the National Daily and The Polity newspapers to now say Sheikh Zakzaky is “almost inconsolable”, and that, “El-Zakzaky is no longer in the position right now to totally determine what happens in the Islamic movement in Nigeria”, is a wholesale lie.
As for the Sheikh being “almost inconsolable”, this can best be described as a joke. Right from the day of the incidence, thousands of people from all walks of life have been trooping to condole him at his residence. People who condoled Sheikh Zakzaky included politicians, religious scholars, civil servants, government delegations, diplomats, businessmen, academicians and many others. They never saw the revered Leader crying, chanting Allahu Akbar and calling for vengeance all day, as alleged by National Daily and The Polity. What they rather saw was a composed and calm personality with warm reception.
The claim by National Daily and The Polity that the revered Islamic leader may “renege on his alleged promise not to take violent action to protest the alleged killing of his three children by security agents…” cannot in any way hold water. The personality of Sheikh Zakzaky is that of a person who has never for once been found wanting in his words or actions. He has never gone back on his words; a rare display of honesty, consistency and focused leadership that had earned him the loyalty and support of millions of followers both home and abroad.
Nations that expressed concern, described by the National Daily as “fundamentalist elements” such of Iran, Lebanon, Turkey and Palestinian and some South American nations such as Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia, indicates the international dimension of the Movement, hence the atrocity is receiving global condemnation. This is only an act of diplomatic responsibility. National Daily and The Polity should ask Nigerian government why it is having diplomatic ties with “fundamentalist elements”. It has become obvious that, Nigerian government is caught in a tangle of shame, having danced to the tune of the illegal state of Israel, enacting in Nigeria the onslaught in Gaza.
We believe that, the National Daily and The Politynewspapers were sponsored by the military under a guided ready-made script to write the story to cover up the atrocities committed in Zaria, and commit further atrocities. The medium amplifies a memo sent to Nigerian Army HQ DIV1 by the Zaria Depot HQ of the Nigerian Army signed by Brigadier General B.A. Fiboiumama with Special SITREP No 04/14 and titled, ‘Religious Disturbance’, a copy of which was sent to the office of Chief of Army Staff (COAS), the plan to commit further atrocities by the Nigerian army became more obvious. The memo described members of the Islamic Movement as violent group that had engaged the military in a gun battle. It also ordered all military barracks to stay on “red alert”, insinuating that the “Shi’ites” are going to engage in retaliatory act. Objective observer of the shootings in Zaria will dismiss the report by the National Daily and The Polity as a calculated mischief.
We will not be surprised should the military stage bombings of its barracks or target its personnel, to justify its claim that the “Shi’ites” launched the attack to avenge the killing of their members.
This is not the first time the National Daily was used to justify state-sponsored terrorism, targeting the Islamic Movement in Nigeria. In 2009, National Daily was equally available to justify the shooting of two members of the Islamic Movement during the Quds Day peaceful protest by the Kaduna State police command under Tambari Yabo Mohammed in Zaria on September 20 of that year. It said on its front page dated 25-27th September, 2009, “Kaduna boils again: Boko Haram, Shiite group plan massacre”. Like the present one, the story was based on falsehood. It tried to link the Islamic Movement with the so-called Boko Haram. “Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria otherwise known as Shiite Movement, appeared ready to continue the Jihad began by the embattled Islamic group popularly known as Boko Haram”, claimed National Daily.
From all indication, National Daily is not the only medium sponsored by the Nigerian military to justify the killings in Zaria. Another mushroom weekly junk newspaper, The Polity, Kaduna-based, dated 7th August, 2014 has re-echoed exactly the same article.
This time it is not Shehu Dawud, but an anonymous correspondent- “By Our Correspondent”. We believe it is from the same official source, with same insidious intent.
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria has no plan in whatever form of carrying out any act of attack or offensive on anybody as a result of the Zaria massacre. Similar killings had been meted out on the Islamic Movement in Nigeria by previous governments; some of the killers are leaving amidst the society. Had it been in our line to take vengeance, such criminals could have been dealt with.
We demand to know what National Daily is and The Polity newspapers are up to. We have our organs, we have newspapers and we have websites. What then are they up to? This must be an attempt by the killers to come up with more killings of innocent souls and claim that the “Shiites” are taking revenge. So any action or form of terror attack or crime committed by anybody is not in the name of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.
We call on the National Daily and The Polity newspaper to immediately withdraw the malicious stories and offer unreserved apology. Failure to make such amend will prove that the newspapers are promoting culture of violence and terrorism, and will be accountable for its action through legal means.
In Allah we trust and on to Him we rely.
Resource Forum, Islamic Movement in Nigeria.