Abdul Mumin Giwa
I was shocked when my attention was drawn to a false claim by a faceless NGO ‘Coalition of Arewa CSO for Progress and Change’. The group claimed that the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) paid N250 million to a person named Dr. Idris Ahmad, who is yet to be identified. The story was reported and given special coverage in the media in utter disregard of the journalistic ethics.
While this was going on, a few days later, another faceless group demanded that the IMN be declared a terror group by Muhammad Buhari regime. I was quick to notice that it was all being done as part of a sinister conspiracy against the IMN and Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky by same shadowy forces.
I was about to respond to the first bogus claim when the other salvo was fired. So I decided to respond to both claims through this article, to set the records straight.
Following the clampdown on the IMN, the extra-judicial killings and mass murder of its members from 12th to 14th of December 2015 by the Nigerian Army led by its chief, over thousand members of the IMN, who were unarmed worshippers made up of mostly women and children, were butchered by the Army in the most brutal manner. Their crime was attending the ceremony to celebrate the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Initially, the story of mass killing was coming only from the IMN as the Army had taken over all the propaganda machinery. They claimed that the group blocked the way of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and he made his way through by killing six people. They also shamelessly claimed that the IMN was after the life of the COAS but he managed to escape. In fact the COAS even went to report to the Nigerian Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that his life was threatened by the IMN.
Somehow, some questions arose that raised doubt on the army in the eyes of the public.
The Army chief claimed he was blocked at a particular location and he killed six to make his way, but why did the killings persist for two days in three other different locations that were several kilometers away from the scene?
Why was the residence of the IMN leader Sheikh Zakzaky attacked? Is the punishment for blocking the COAS and his convoy by unarmed civilians mass murder and extra-judicial killing?
Being an accomplice in the crime against humanity, the Kaduna state governor Nasiru el-Rufai set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) to investigate the issue comprising some ‘insiders’ whose duty is basically to demonize the IMN using their sectarian vendetta.
The JCI issued a report indicting the Nigerian Army and revealing to the world that the Army chief killed 347, not six as he earlier claimed. It didn’t stop there, in total violation of international and local laws, especially the Geneva Convention, the 347 IMN members were extra-judicially killed by the COAS and his men and were buried in a mass grave at Mando village close to Kaduna, something the Army had denied until the JCI revelation.
The leader of the IMN Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, whose residence was attacked by the heavily armed soldiers, was shot at close range, with an intention to murder him in cold blood. He lost an eye in that incident and the mechanical function of a limb. His wife was also shot in the belly and both of them have been refused treatment by the Nigerian government, which is keeping them in illegal detention, in contempt of the federal high court order.
The Nigerian army had killed three of his sons before and in this incident they killed three more. The marauding soldiers blew off the head of the youngest and splashed his brains on the body of Sheikh. Not to mention the manner in which many of his followers were burned alive or thrown to the ground from story buildings or how helpless and injured persons were shot dead at close range by the soldiers and their bodies mutilated. Can it get any more brutal and savage?
One other brutal incident was when they locked the elder sister of Sheikh Zakzaky in a room along with her son and set the room ablaze. The old woman was shouting “are you going to burn us alive” until she died. If these acts cannot be classified as ‘state terrorism’, then what else could be?
A lot of people escaped with critical injuries while others were lucky to escape unhurt, including my wife and children. There are thousands of witnesses out there living with the trauma and harrowing memories.
Despite all these brutalities, the IMN with its membership of about 20 million did not take the law into its hands, but sought redress through peaceful and legal means. It took the case to the federal high court where the fundamental rights of the IMN leader were enforced and an order for his release, compensation, provision of a new residence and personal police protection was issued by the court.
The Buhari government refused to obey the court order, resulting which the IMN leader is still in illegal detention. It’s been more than a year and the IMN members continue to protest peacefully.
Coming to the bogus claims of paying N250 million to some shadowy figure to indict the army, if the IMN really has that much money to pay for discrediting the army, it would have used it in catering for the thousands of widows and orphans created by the COAS and his men. It would have used it in treating those who emerged from the killings with complicacies. It would have used it in giving a better life to those children whose parents were murdered by the army and have to live on donations from other IMN members.
And for the wishful suggestion of declaring IMN a terror organization, I have sited acts of state terrorism perpetrated by the Buhari regime, a situation that has led the International Criminal Court in The Hague to step up its investigation on the matter, I would like the SERG or Buhari regime or the Nigerian army to site acts of terrorism perpetrated by the IMN, if any, in its over 40 years of existence.
I was shocked but certainly not surprised when these faceless groups emerged.
The Army frowned at the Human Rights Watch (HRW) for calling on it to come clean on the Zaria massacre.
The army has discredited the Amnesty International (AI) for speaking against its excesses.
A faceless group called Gyallesu Youths was also used to justify the government’s state terrorism in Zaria. A faceless group was also used to protest in Kaduna against the IMN where the hoodlums ended up fighting at the Kaduna NUJ while sharing the proceeds after the protest. These are just a few of several state sponsored NGOs castigating the IMN.
The Buhari regime has committed horrendous crimes against humanity. It has committed genocide against a minority group simply because the president and some of his people don’t share the same faith and ideology.
What has the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) done to be termed a terror group? Is it seeking redress in courts or the peaceful street protests that are rampantly attacked by armed policemen who have killed several IMN members on the streets or is it the belief of the IMN that we are either brothers in faith or brothers in humanity, therefore we are all brothers that they call terrorism? Who then is the terrorist?