The other side of the Sultan Bello Mosque crises

By Abdulmumin Giwa
Just of recent, worshippers at the Sultan Bello mosque Kaduna have had two crisis-laden Fridays in series following a said imposition of an unpopular Imam being supported by some powers that be.
Dr Khalid Aliyu, who is also the Secretary General of Jama’atu Nasril Islam, a body that is supposed to be protecting the collective interest of Nigerian Muslims irrespective of their sectarian inclination, ideas and schools of thought, was opposed to by worshipers after he was appointed Imam of the Mosque by the Kaduna State Government under the office of the Emir of Zazzau.
Being the choice of the state government, both religious and democratic processes of electing an Imam where not adhered to, he was simply announced as the appointed Imam of the mosque, an action which did not go down well with worshippers in the mosque who are mostly supporters of the controversial Islamic cleric Dr. Ahmad Gumi.
On the first Friday as Dr. Khalid went to lead Friday prayers to begin his tenure as Imam of the mosque he was welcomed by a fierce resistance shouting “ba mu so” (we don’t want) which led to a very noisy and rowdy session with people almost engaging in physical assault.
The state government in its usual tyrannical manner got Dr. Khalid escorted to the mosque by hundreds of armed policemen the next Friday in its effort to impose him, even as the worshippers resist. They were already in a prayer session when the police attacked the mosque throwing teargas at the congregation. Worshippers including children suffered suffocation and had to quite the session for safety as police clear the mosque for Dr. Khalid to lead prayer where he led some members of the Mosque committee and members of his entourage. The police practically took over the mosque after violating its sanctity and dispersing innocent worshipers carrying out the orders of the Kaduna State Government.
Later in the day, Dr. Khalid called a press conference to shower blames on Dr. Gumi who he accused of rebelling against the state and causing chaos. He also declared that he is beyond the ‘Imamship’ because even the mosque is under his authority as the head of Jama’at Nasril Islam (JNI).
On his side, Dr. Gumi insisted that the people should be allowed to choose their Imam because prayer is rendered invalid with an imposed Imam. There was also an audio doing the rounds in the social media where Dr. Gumi said that he met with the Kaduna state governor Nasir El-Rufai and the governor had promised him that such violation of the mosque sanctity by police would not repeat itself come next Friday. He also called for calm that everything would be resolved.
What actually led to the crisis between the two was said to be both personal and sentimental. Dr. Khalid was once the JNI leader in Jos while he was a Tarikah follower but later converted to Ahl Sunna. Dr. Gumi wanted the JNI because it was his father’s initiative but Dr. Khalid was fast at pushing him aside.

Likewise the Sultan Bello Mosque was brought to live by Dr. Gumi’s father late Sheikh Abubakar Mahmoud Gumi as was where he ran his annual Ramadan Tafsir and now Dr. Khalid is back again to take it away. These are basically the problems between the two.
Going by what Dr. Khalid said that in his position as the Secretary General of the JNI he is above being an Imam, why would he then be interested in becoming the Imam of Sultan Bello Mosque? Why is he being imposed by force by the Kaduna state government as the Imam of the mosque even as the worshippers of the mosque reject him? What interest is the Kaduna state government protecting or imposing in the mosque? What is the business of Kaduna state government on who becomes Imam in any mosque at all? The answers are not farfetched.
Everyone is aware of what happened in Zaria in December 2015 where the Nigerian Army attacked the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and killed over 1000 of them and buried them in mass graves. In efforts to douse the tension founded by the mass-murder and extra-judicial killings that tantamount to severer crimes against humanity, for which the Nigerian President, the Chief of Army Staff, the Kaduna state governor and some other individuals were indicted before the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Kaduna state governor formed the Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI).
Part of the work of the JCI included receiving memos from individuals and groups and also cross-examining them. The governor had earlier indicted the IMN in his speeches before even forming the JCI. He also has been holding IMN members in detention in Kaduna Prison and has taken them to court on fabricated charges even before forming the JCI. The body language and actions of the governor showed where he belonged in the crisis.
Part of the intention of the perpetrators of the Massacre was to ban the IMN and the JCI was to work it out for them. Being aware of the plot, the IMN stayed away from the JCI such that the entire submission of the JCI was one-sided and based on information gathered by it from IMN adversaries. Groups, individuals and agencies were all sponsored to make monotonous submissions before the JCI.
The JCI on its part also avoided the IMN by refusing to demand the presence of the IMN leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky who is in detention with the government. It was such that all the JCI gathered where calculated lies, fabrications and hate speeches against the IMN to produce a report. These were produced by Wahhabis, Army, DSS, Police and other self-appointed opponents of the IMN.
In his position as the head of the JNI, Dr Khalid was not left behind in fabricating lies against the IMN and its leader before the JCI. He played a very vital role in treading the path of the government in its evil agenda against the IMN. He was a stakeholder in a meeting that that brought like-minds together to ensure that the IMN was indicted and banned. In fact he shopped for more lies against IMN saying the more the lies the more their chances of achieving their aim against IMN. To them they were fighting a Jihad against Shiites and Shiism with government on their side.
It is this role he played that has made him handy for the success of the plots against IMN. Government on its part has sponsored clerics to spread hate speeches against IMN to their congregations. The Sultan Bello Mosque as a very vital mosque to Muslims in Kaduna metropolis would require a dedicated stakeholder of the Shiah-phobia. This is where Dr. Khalid comes in.
The state government needs him to become the Imam and is ready to use force to impose him even as Dr. Gumi feels he is more deserving. To them they see Dr. Gumi as an opponent that is not in very good terms with President Buhari and had once called for the release of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky from illegal detention. The government could not trust him as he might speak against them if made the Imam of the Mosque and this could jeopardize government interest.
The Kaduna state Government was ready to use force to impose their puppet Imam in the mosque even if they have to violate the sanctity of the mosque. Dr. Khalid and the state government are fighting for a particular agenda while Dr. Gumi on the other side is fighting for his own agenda. But he might have been enlightened by the state governor when they later met with him.
Part of the government agenda now is an all-out war against Shiites in the country and the role of the Imams and other clerics cannot be over-emphasized. They are now saddled with the duty of spreading hate messages against the IMN and people like Dr. Khalid are very handy in the plot that is why he is fighting to become an Imam by all means even as he is above the office in his position as the head of the JNI as he rightly said.
Definitely the interest of the government and Dr. Khalid is clear and cannot be denied. This is an act of corruption being perpetrated by a government claiming to be fighting corruption. It’s more like bribing Dr. Khalid with position of Imam for a job well done against Shiites in Nigeria.

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