A Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, strategist, Deji Adeyanju, on Sunday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the latest “aggression” against members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria in different parts of the country.
Shi’a Islam faithful, under the umbrella of IMN, have come under renewed assault following a proscription of the sect by Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai.
Mr. El-Rufai’s order, which he maintained is in accordance with the laws of the state, was immediately followed by similar pronouncements by authorities in Katsina and Kebbi states.
No fewer than a dozen people have been killed in the latest attacks which observers warned could metastasize into a sectarian crisis if not immediately curbed.
Mr. El-Rufai has condemned the killing and urged law enforcement departments to prosecute those engaged in attacks against IMN members.
In his statement to PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Adeyanju said the development further “corroborate the assertion that Nigeria is at its most fractured state – politically, socio-economically, ethnically & religiously – since the Civil War.”
Mr. Adeyanju said Mr. Buhari allegedly avoided addressing the crisis during his outings since the latest violence broke, suggesting that such tactics had further emboldened soldiers and police to continue the crackdown on Shiites with impunity.
“The fact that the men of the Nigerian military as well as Nigeria Police Force gave security cover to the murderous mobs as these attacks were carried out is very worrisome.
“It is even more worrisome that while giving an address yesterday regarding the attacks by Boko Haram in Maiduguri, the Borno State Capital, President Muhammadu Buhari was completely silent about the attacks on Shiites in Kano, Kaduna and Katsina States during which a high number of casualties were recorded and property worth hundreds of millions of Naira were recorded,” Mr. Adeyanju said.
The politician said unlike in the past when Mr. Buhari allegedly justified the massacre of over three hundred Shiites for allegedly insulting military generals, the president had no reason not to condemn the latest attacks.
“What is worse is that while the murders of Shiites in December 2015 was justified by an asinine reference to Shiites “…touching the chests of generals,” there is no justification for these recent acts of aggression and terror. Nothing but mindless violence,” Mr. Adeyanju said.
He said successive Nigerian leaders failed to recognise previous aggressions that led to armed insurrection by different groups throughout the country’s modern history.
“It is sad that our country and its leaders have failed to learn from the cycles of violence and repression that led to the creation of the Maitatsine Sect in the late 70s and early 80s; and the more recent creation of the terrorist group – Boko Haram.”
Mr. Adeyanju said the Shiites may not be entirely innocent, but didn’t see how a crackdown on them will not further aggravate the situation.
“As much as one is mindful of the “infractions” of the Shi’a sect in Zaria, the solution cannot be a resort to state-sponsored violence and the extra-judicial murder of hundreds of people,” Mr. Adeyanju said.
The proscription of Shiites activities in Kaduna and other northern states came 11 months afterthe massacre in Zaria, which left nearly 350 people dead.
During the incident, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeinat, were arrested and held incommunicado. They were only allowed access to their lawyer for the first time on 1 April 2016, three and a half months after their arrest.
The Kaduna State Government set up a panel of inquiry earlier this year and the body submitted its report in July.
The panel indicted Adeniyi Oyebade, the Grand Officer Commanding of the Nigerian Army 1st Division and others for the massacre.
No known action has been taken against Mr. Oyebade, a major-general whom the judicial panel said authorised the operation.