By Abdulmumin Giwa
Media reports have said that the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has described the Igbo elders under the platform of Ohanaeze Ndigbo as irresponsible for opposing federal government’s move to revoke Nnamdi Kanu’s bail.
It was said that the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) on Sunday condemned Ohanaeze Ndigbo for criticizing the Federal Government’s plan to re-arrest the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
The President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, had earlier accused the Federal Government of double standard and disregard of Kanu’s fundamental human rights, especially against the backdrop of its refusal to arrest the Arewa youths who issued the now-withdrawn Igbo quit notice.
However, Paul Unongo, Chairman of NEF said the northern elders were disappointed that Ohanaeze would make light of a criminal matter.
Unongo argued that Kanu’s case was 100 per cent different from the ultimatum issued by the Arewa youths, stating that there was no basis for comparison.
I really wonder how these so-called northern elders act that I even raised the question as to who is more irresponsible between the northern elders and the Igbo elders. Who is actually speaking for and protecting the interest of his people? Is it the northern elders or the Igbo elders?
I read a lot of comments full of various sectional and tribal sentiments on this matter to the extent that I could not help questioning the integrity of the Northern Elders Forum in particular who hardly speak in the interest of the northern people but for what looks more like political and personal whims.
In December 2015 a very ugly incident took place in Zaria where a claimed traffic disagreement between some members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and the entourage of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) took place. This resulted in wanton and incessant killing of the IMN members where over 1000 men, women and children were extra-judicially murdered by the Nigerian Army.
Some were burned alive by the army, some tortured to death all in a period of about 24 hours within which the worship centers of the IMN, the residence of their leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, their cemetery and the residence of the mother of the IMN leader were all destroyed by a coalition of the Army and the Kaduna state government. Most of those killed were youths studying in universities.
The victims were buried in mass graves in violation of all known laws whether religious, national or international in a joint operation between the Army and the Kaduna state government. What is worse is that some of them were buried alive as no one was certified dead because the operation was meant to be a secret of hiding the intensity of the genocide.
It is true that the IMN members are mainly Shiites who are a minority Muslim group that suffer all sorts of attacks and blackmail from the majority Sunni Wahhabis in particular. These attacks and castigations include blackmail and inducement of sectarian sentiments such that most of what is heard of about the Shiites is not from the Shiites but from the Wahhabi/Salafi scholars who always propagate lies and rumors about the Shiites.
More so, the IMN is fast growing and virtually all its members were formerly Sunnis who have converted to Shi’a. This they see as a threat to the existence of their Wahhabism which is enjoying the opposite. The Wahhabi scholars among other things are afraid of losing a source of income by allowing Shi’a to grow. Their scholars are used to working hand-in-hand with politicians from who they take their campaigns to their worship centers where they induce all sorts of sentiments in the people and most importantly in return make millions of Naira usually looted from government coffers.
The IMN on the other hand propagates revolutionary ideas that are stern on corruption and injustice. They propagate and call for the implementation of fairness and justice to all irrespective of tribe, section, region or religion. This is more like killing the business of the Wahhabi scholars and their politician friends.
Despite all these group and ideological differences, it is indisputable that the Shiites that were murdered by the Buhari regime in Zaria are northerners and are responsible youths of the north. They are Shiites because they are not part of the delinquent youths of the north neglected by their leaders and left without education or any hope for a good future. They are Shiites because they are university students or engaged in one entrepreneur or the other.
The Shiites youths murdered by the army don’t belong to those groups of neglected youths in the northern communities that are into drug abuse, thugry, robbery, kidnapping and all sorts of societal nuisance. The only function of the neglected youth is to follow politicians chanting slogans and being paid crumbs without any future hope. They are not like the neglected youths of the north that attack communities with knives, daggers, swords and cutlasses inflicting all sorts of injuries on innocent people. They are guided by a responsible leader.
Where were the so-called northern elders when these promising youths were lynched by the regime? What is even worse is that these so-called elders went to justify and shamelessly tell lies before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) set up by the Kaduna state government to investigate the Zaria killings.
The irresponsibility of the majority of the northern elders is such that they didn’t see anything wrong with the killing of the IMN members simply because they are Shiites. This form of irresponsibility can never be labeled against elders of other regions.
For instance, despite the nuisance of the Odua People’s Congress (OPC), the then president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who is their kinsmen never killed them. Former president Goodluck Jonathan never killed the Niger Delta youths, in fact he even defended them despite the economic tragedies they inflicted on Nigeria through their activities. When President Muhammadu Buhari wanted to launch a clampdown on the IPOB the Igbo elders came out including their politicians to speak against it saying they are their sons and daughters and must not be killed.
Back here in the north some of the northern elders are full of praises for the irresponsibility of the Buhari regime that murdered their youths simply because they were Shiites. They do all possible to justify the mass murder concocting all sorts of foolish excuses that don’t hold water to justify their irresponsibility.
When the army under President Jonathan murdered about 34 IMN members including three sons of the leader in July 2014 some of these so-called northern leaders went to condoled the IMN leader and even condemned the army describing them as the ‘Jonathanian Army’ but when the ‘Buharian Army’ murdered over 1000 they hypocritically kept mute and even joined in the action. Who then is more irresponsible, is it the Ohanaeze Indigbo that defend their youths at all cost or the Northern Elders that hypocritically sacrifice their own?
By Abdulmumin Giwa