The recent face-off between the Nigerian Army and the Shiites group has left a sour taste in the mouth of Nigerians who questions the existence of due process and respect for human life.
When government goes on excursion from its inherent duty of protecting lives of citizens and descends to taking them without very good reason, water has indeed surpassed garri in a bowl, as the Nigerian Pidgin adage goes.
Macabre media reports about some Shiites, members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), gunned down by army operatives in Abuja sent goosebumps across the body of well-meaning Nigerians. Enquiry in order to understand “Why” tends to leave one befuddled by choice of that deadly alternative by our security personnel. The thought that such carnage could have been avoided is irrepressible. In spite of the arguments subtly put forward by the federal government alongside the Nigerian Army to abate the seriousness of that event, the killings to a great extent are unjustifiable.
Ibrahim El-zakzaky, the embattled leader of the shiites, has been the axis around which this matter has revolved. Since his arrest, majority of followers of his movement to propagate Islam and obviate any contamination whatsoever have been restless. They have thronged streets in Kaduna and Abuja severally demanding the unconditional release of their captain from DSS custody.
Protests by shiites have been on for months with a catalogue ofreports of clashes with security officers. But the most recent one which sawover 40 persons of protesters taken to their early graves with bullets from thearmy is utterly preposterous. And widespread information on how considerablyunarmed these fellows were magnifies the dastardly trait of such act.
The Nigerian Army in her reaction claims that Shiites on that fateful day were armed and attacked them, a narrative which has been falsified by pictures of items unlike weapons found on the deceased Shiites and formal statement made by the IMN. More so, proceeding to adduce a Donald Trump’s comment as a basis of justification is not tenable, largely because of the peculiarity of that Abuja context. Fire was opened on middle-aged men who stepped out of their homes,bidding farewell to their loved ones with an assurance to see them soon, to avow their displeasure.
Even if the Shiites have an Islamization agenda as an objective, as alleged by Kaduna State Governor El-Rufai in a recent interview on Channels TV, resorting to eliminating them with reckless abandon has the potential of aggravating the issue. We are yet to recuperate from the Boko-Haram cancer which became fatal due to the killing of an associated Islamic cleric by the government, an incident which infuriated his followers like Ibrahim Shekau to the extent of declaring a war on Nigeria.
Sadly, the manner in which Shiites are being handled by the government and Nigerian Army reveal they have not learned from history! El-zakzaky’s period of trial in court should be void of any shenanigan that could lead to his murder. Sufficiently trying the option of diplomacy in dealing with the IMN, possibly, can lead to a win-win resolution without loss of lives.
Coercion is no doubt attractive, but Nigerians are tired of paying the price of attendant insecurity.