By Abdulmumin Giwa
I was shocked and surprised by the piece attributed to a guest contributor on Naij.Com by the name Gabriel Onoja. Judging by the issue he was writing on, I never expected such a naïve and quick approach to the issue at stake by a right thinking analyst. It was terribly cheap as though it was the Nigerian Army that wrote the piece in defense of its dirty work.
The piece was un-researched and myopic and full of straight conclusions without genuine references or convincing analysis. By simply reading it one would deduce that it was written by a pen in a defensive mode seeking a way out of a calamity, simple. The tone of the piece was antagonistic towards the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and trying to seek public sympathy through false allegations and empty statements.
I said I was shocked and surprised because I never expected any right thinking person to treat an issue of such magnitude with such simplicity. Because it could simply be asked that, if one claims that the Nigerian Army abducted 50 girls in Zaria and another person feels it is not possible, is enough to simple push the issue aside and call on Nigerians not to listen to the call? This is too cheap and stupid.
What would be expected is for a call for investigation into the matter so as to substantiate the facts because those concerned are equally Nigerians enjoying the same citizenship as you that doesn’t want to hear about the issue at all.
More so, if the writer was not mischievous and his pen was not compromised for some monetary benefits from the accused Nigerian Army, he would not have called for investigation of those asking for the whereabouts of the abducted Zaria girls, he would have rather called for an investigation into the allegation. Alas it is clear who is paying for the piece to be written. The ‘allegation’ is too serious to be wiped under the carpet as being attempted by Onoja.
The writer made an empty reference to the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) established by the Kaduna state government to inquire into the Zaria massacre perpetrated by the Nigerian Army in order to deceive his readers.
Let me talk about the report a little. What is now clear about the report, which I am sure the writer had not read, is that nothing whatsoever was heard from the side of the IMN as no memo was submitted by it and it was not cross-examined. This is not because the IMN didn’t want to, but because the government, being fully involved in the massacre, didn’t want the commission to hear from the IMN.
They refused to bring the sole victim of the massacre Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzkay to testify before the JCI even as he is being held by the government in what they call protective custody. There are also 191 IMN members arrested on the scene of the massacre that are in Kaduna Prison that were not brought to testify before the commission. Where then has justice been to when the JCI was sitting that the government and its JCI, all accomplices in the crime against humanity, were expecting a third-party account from the side of the IMN?
Hence a one-sided report and recommendations were made and submitted as planned by the government. The report is at total variance with the recommendations made proving that the recommendations were imported into the JCI to achieve a particular aim.
More so, as the writer hungrily defends the Nigerian Army the JCI he is deceptively referring to had indicted the Nigerian Army for acting outside its rules of engagement and engaging in the mass murder of men, women and children and even burning human beings alive, actions differentiating it only in name with Boko Haram.
This submission of the JCI had raised a lot of eyebrows even in America where a law maker in the US, Tom Marino is calling on the US to stop Arms sales to Nigeria because the Army is using such arms to kill innocent and unarmed civilians giving the Zaria massacre as an example. He said this in an open letter to the US Secretary of State John Kerry and even promised raising the matter before the assembly.
I think you would have better described this law maker as Boko Haram for calling on the US not to sell or assist Nigeria with arms because the government is using the arms to kill innocent unarmed civilians and not the Shi’ites on who the arms are being used. I say this because of your allegation against the IMN that they are Boko Haram instead of the Army whose actions are in no way different from Boko Haram.
For your information, the IMN which you described as Shi’ite has never engaged in any form of violence but is a victim of violence perpetrated by the government as well as Boko Haram. This shows the unity of purpose between the government and the Boko Haram. The Boko Haram bombed the IMN killing scores during its symbolic trek from Kano to Zaria in 2015 and only a few months later the government’s Army joined the Boko Haram and did even worse than the Boko Haram killing over one thousand.
Hence if Boko Haram have abducted 200 Chibok girls, what is there to be surprised about because its official partner in the killing of IMN members have abducted only 50? You now know better who the real Boko haram is.
Here is a writer in Nigeria paid to defend the Army that is terrorizing civilians by mischievously describing the victims of Army crimes against humanity as extremists. Definitely common sense has it that it is either the Nigerian Army he is defending that deserves being described as extremists or he that writes in their defense that is the extremist but not the IMN that is the victim of their atrocities.
The JCI reports that 347 IMN members were buried in a mass grave at night to hide the acts of terrorism committed by the Army, the Amnesty International has confirmed this and even added that the Army cordoned off the areas they committed the crime to clear them of all traces of their terrorism, washing blood stains and picking bullet shells after packing away over hundreds of corpses and finally the Kaduna state government came in with trucks to destroy the physical evidences of the use of heavy bombs on unarmed civilians with the intention of sweeping everything under the carpet. This clearly proves who the terrorist is and who the extremist is.
The IMN had published a list of at least 850 persons and their profiles while it was still collecting the figures that were missing since the pogrom in several news dailies and on the internet. The government and its Army are all aware of this but have never at any time denied that those people were actually missing. If out of 850 the JCI was able to trace that in violation of state laws, religious laws and The Geneva Convention 347 were buried in a mass grave by the Army, where then are the remaining missing persons?
The missing persons were abducted by the Nigerian Army amongst who are the 50 girls and the missing students the writer is accusing the IMN of fabricating.
Shamelessly the writer called on well-meaning Nigerians to call out on the IMN on what he described as its irresponsibility of using the #BringBackOurGZariaGirls tag. What is irresponsible about this? Is it the abduction of the girls or calling for their freedom? This is just an element of the Free Zakzaky Campaign which is even making the other campaigns to be heard of. Peaceful protests have been staged in New York, Paris, and at the Nigerian High Commission in London. It has been staged in places like Canada, India, Russia, China and in most countries of the Middle-East. That of London was staged in the very presence of the Nigerian President Muhammadu during one of his visits to London where he was condemned for tyranny and inhumanity by the protesters in London.
What popularity is there to show to this campaign that it has not gotten? None! The issue is not the campaign but where the campaign is falling. It is falling in the deaf ears of the Nigerian leaders who are too arrogant, tyrannical and deep into impunity to listen to the calls from people of conscience even as the calls have never stopped.
In the IMN each and every one of the members is Sheikh Zakzaky and whatever is happening to him is happening to those millions of his peaceful followers. That is the logic behind concentrating solely on the Free Sheikh Zakzaky campaign because it covers every other thing and is the gravest atrocity of all the other atrocities that his fundamental rights are violated. The atrocities committed by the Army during the Zaria massacre are too numerous to launch campaigns on each independently but are all covered under the Free Sheikh Zakzaky campaign.
How many campaigns would one launch to seek redress with the numbers of atrocities committed by the Army? Is the campaign going to be on the incessant killing of unarmed civilians, on the killing of women, on the killing of children and infants, on burning human beings alive, on burying people alive, on molesting and raping women or on violation of fundamental rights of the victims? Will the campaign be on the Army for killing civilians, or using heavy weapons on unarmed civilians, or mass burying its victims illegally, or violating its rules of engagement or even engaging in extra-judicial killings or contradicting the constitutional provisions and wrongly doing police work? Which campaign is going to be launched on the Zaria massacre?
The answer to this is that campaign that carries in it all the hundreds and thousands of crimes and atrocities committed by the Nigerian Army in the Zaria Massacre and that is the Free Sheikh Zakzaky Campaign!
Why would anyone be afraid of the campaign for #BringBackOurZariaGirls under the Free Sheikh Zakzaky campaign if he is not guilty of something? Who is afraid of the campaign?
By Abdulmumin Giwa