By Abdulmumin Giwa
In response to the above mentioned article written by one Johnson Obioha and posted on Naija.com, I dropped a comment and shared the post on facebook. Following another revelation by the team of the News Rescue editors on the plan of the perpetrators of the Zaria pogrom to infiltrate the entire occurrence and give it a new picture by bringing a Boko Haram narration into it, I thought it necessary to actually produce this rejoinder.
News Rescue revealed that the Army was not happy with what the Kaduna state government did revealing the truth about the mass burial. This revelation has left the army to come up with the true figure of those it indiscriminately killed, and also a genuine reason for the killing.
The revelation of the mass burial of 347 members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria has strongly battered the already sick human rights records of the Nigerian Army. The Army is now looking for a way out of this mess after the Kaduna state government has made effort to save itself from further committing another crime of joining to hide a crime against humanity jointly committed by it and the Army.
Some of those to give the entire incident a new narration including the author of the above mentioned piece are to introduce lies to implicate the Kaduna state government for the killing of many of the IMN members. The Army claims it handed over “a few corpses” to the state government while the state government claims it buried 347 with the Army present at the burial.
The option for them here is to bring in the Boko Haram theory and claim that the killings were actually perpetrated by Boko Haram and not the Army though I don’t understand how.
In what looked more like a biased and one-side analysis devoid of facts, the writer went as far as depicting the IMN as a dangerous armed group with stockpile of arms. This was very mischievous as he depicted the “codon and search” theory of the five theories given for the killings by the Army.
I expected Obioha to have asked whether the claimed stockpile of arms for which the army murdered 347 members of the IMN, who are also innocent Nigerians including women, children and the aged and hurriedly buried them in the middle of the night, were found, but he mischievously refused to.
The entire saga went by without any stockpile of arms discovered even as all the buildings in four locations owned by the IMN, including the residence of the leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, were not only demolished but the rubles packed away. No traces of arms found.
My take is that, if there is a problem between the Nigerian Army and the Kaduna state government then it is as a result of the impending case at The Hague as everyone is working to save his neck including the Army Chief the writer is working to protect.
Amnesty International was condemned by the Army for digging into the pogrom and coming out with facts including the mass grave for which the Army is not happy. Obioha made the same effort in his own way to discredit the internationally reputable human right organization. All those on the side of the Army accuse the Amnesty International of partiality for which no one is surprised.
The question here is in whose interest is the calumny against Amnesty International who was on the field investigating what actually happened directly from victims and eye-witnesses? It had sessions with not less than 90 people of different categories and inspected all sites of the pogrom in a period of not less than a month.
While the Amnesty was busy on the field the Army and the Kaduna state government were busy sponsoring propaganda to demonize the IMN. The Kaduna state government on its side was paying poverty-stricken people and groups, including religious groups, to come out on television and radio to accuse the IMN of suppressing them for the past 20 years. The Army on the other side was busy trying to sway public opinion by sponsoring advertorials in newspapers, propaganda clips on television and rallies and conferences to condemn the IMN and insinuate hatred for Islamic Republic of Iran among ignorant Nigerians. Definitely with all the monetary facilities made available by the Army, hungry writers would not refuse the temptation of having a taste of what could best be described as ‘blood-money’. People get murdered and you use your pen to defend the murderers for a token.
Also, all references made on IMN by Obioha are not from direct investigation or contact with the IMN but from defensive statements made by its presumed adversaries trying to justify and cover up for the crimes against humanity they have committed. They are doing all efforts to cover up for the incessant killings.
Obioha in his piece treated the issue of the senseless killing with total neglect as though those killed were ants and not human beings simply because they are members of the IMN to further buttress the point that he was on a mission. These people that were killed and mass buried didn’t fall from the sky or grow out of the ground, they are human beings and they have parents, relations, friends and loved ones like any other person. I am sure hunger or poverty is not enough reason to pick up one’s pen against them.
If Obioha is suggesting that the IMN is armed and it had a deadly “clash” with the Army in which the Army was able to kill 347 of them according to official figures (I make this emphasis because the Amnesty International is suggesting the possibility of other hidden mass graves because out of the total missing persons it discovered over 350 are yet to be accounted for), then what is the casualty figure on the side of the Army? Or were they so magnificent that none of them was killed by the thousands of “armed” and “military trained” IMN members as they claim?
Definitely there was no such thing as a clash between the Shiites and the Army but a planned attack and intended murder of innocent and unarmed IMN members. The term clash was mischievously introduced to justify the military genocidal attack on the IMN and to deceive the public.
I will suggest to Obioha checks for who is interested in bringing the Army Chief to disrepute from the class of those who might have falsified intelligence reports to instigate him into incessant killings to satisfy their own whims and caprices.
I will also state for the records that, there was never a time anybody reported or witnessed members of the IMN pelting Governor El-Rufai with sachet water but Obioha lied about it. El-Rufai visited the revered leader of the IMN, Sheikh Zakzaky at his residence to condole him for the earlier murder of his three sons by the Nigerian Army under President Goodluck Jonathan and for that he got a reciprocal sympathy from members of the IMN at individual levels.
More so, IMN members at individual levels had hope that the embattled Chief of Army Staff was going to investigate and bring to book the perpetrators of the earlier killings of its members by the Army under President Jonathan. The IMN might have hardly finished compiling its complaint and reports on the July 2014 attack, where 34 of its members were either killed or tortured to death including three sons of the leader, when the the movement was attacked unawares again.
I think Mr Obioha needs to wear a human face when next he writes about the Zaria pogrom.