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Understanding the Zaria massacre

Written by Dr. Kabir Mato (Published in the Weekly Trust Newspaper, Saturday 02 August 2014)

Last week Friday was phenomenal. It was a day that several young people were summarily executed by Nigerian soldiers while conducting an annual ritual, which I have seen and lived with in my part of Nigeria for more than 30 years.

By the way, I went to school in Zaria in 1979 after I had completed my secondary education in Kaduna. About that time, the Iranian revolution, which ousted the government of Shah Reza, was dethroned and hoisted Ayatollah Ruhullah Khomeini as the spiritual leader of the new Islamic Republic was just completed.

The hostilities of the United States of America and Western Europe over the new development was monumental and what we had all over the Muslim world was the deliberate campaign of calumny and destruction against the new order by the established western and Jewish traditions which saw the new reality in Tehran as fundamentally destructive to not just western civilization but the Jewish mantra of Nazism and by implication the state of Israel.

Wahabism became the darling of the west and many scholars and leaders of the sect were deliberately hired to propagate falsehood and disaffection against the Iranians, their sect and leadership which consequently poisoned the minds of millions of Muslims across the globe on what reality was Iran and the essence of the revolution in relation to the much needed independence and relevance of Muslim world in global and religious affairs.

The march just like the one of last Friday has been traditional since the early 1980s and I remember very well that many a times, the previous military regimes did interfere with such processions, which led to the arrest and even imprisonment of several members of the sect but never was any life rudely taken. What remains very clear is that anytime the sect was involved in any insurrection, the truth was that they were never the originators of any of the uprisings and or upheavals.

Many a times they were attacked without any provocation by government forces. If anything, they have been a very peaceful religious movement in Nigeria whose growth over the years was astronomical and I challenge any of my readers to come forth with any contrary to this brief statement on the Muslim Brotherhood Movement.

The group has been given several names among which is Shiites. I do not know what they are but what I do know is that they are very organized and peaceful. Why would the soldiers simply gun down several of these people while conducting peacefully a tradition that has outlived the Jonathan administration?

The killings in Zaria on friary last week was premeditated and a gross insult and abuse on the rights of Nigerians to freely associate and worship without molestation. It was a provocation, which if care is not taken could lead to more serious unfortunate developments in the country possibly worst than the one we are facing at the moment.

For God’s sake has President Jonathan got any right to shoot and kill any Nigerian just like that? Why would an Army Officer no matter his ranking supervise over such a massive manslaughter of innocent citizens among which are very young promising Nigerians?

So sectarianism in Islam is forbidden by current Nigerian government or what am I hearing from the powers that be? Islam like other religions has sects and sects are a reality in every religion and by the way, what is responsible for this outrage and massacre? I think every Nigerian whether Christian or Muslim must stand firm and not just condemn this act but ensure that those responsible must be brought to book no matter their standing in the society.

For sure those who committed this act are barbaric and must be made to answer for this otherwise, we all are not safe. It is not about any one sect it is about everybody and everybody is therefore not safe if an army officer or some other rank could simply open fire on any gathering. No where else in this world

No where else in this world could this happen and those responsible go  unchallenged and unattended to and any claim by so called human right groups if this remains unattended to will further embolden those whom we pay from our taxes to carry arms to continue to massacre us without any reason or provocation.

The government in Abuja must act with dispatch and necessary precision in order to avoid possible backlash and protect the lives of innocent citizens from such barbarism now and in the future. Action must be in public domain because the usual ‘we are on top of the situation’ stance of government on such and other similar issues may at the end of the day go unchallenged and the crime unattended to while the criminals may go scot-free. This is dangerous to Nigeria as a nation.

I use this forum to condole with Sheikh Ibrahim Elzakzaky, a peaceful Islamic personality who has been a victim of Nigerian state many a times. A leader of a sect that has often been provoked by the sate and has remained clam and focused. My condolences also to the families of those brutally killed by the senseless soldiers who believe they can commit such a crime against humanity and walk away.

Nigeria cannot survive under such an atmosphere of impunity by those who should live by the statutes. We all are in trouble and must rise to ensure that we protect ourselves from this type of arbitrariness of the state and its coercive apparatuses.