By Dr. Musa Adamu
Since the unfortunate December 12 through 14, 2015 deadly clashes between the members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and Nigerian military in Zaria which led to the deaths of at least 347 IMN members and the subsequent inauguration of a judicial commission of inquiry by the Kaduna state government, we have seen a calculated radical upsurge in anti-Shia hate campaigns orchestrated by Wahabi adherents under the leadership of Bala Lau, a self-acclaimed Islamic cleric. It is a fact that the IMN claims to be a Shia movement although a lot of its activities contravene the Shia doctrines it professes. Such hate speech has culminated into physical attacks and killings of IMN members by Salafi-Wahabi thugs who pursue them to their homes, hack them to death, loot and destroy their abodes.
No doubt, IMN flaunts the laws of the land. The laws of Nigeria which are drawn from its constitution provide appropriate sanctions for contravention of the law. I support the proscription of any religious or non-religious groups that seek to denigrate or subvert the sovereignty and sanctity of the Nigerian state under whichever guise. No government the world over will condone the activities of any group that aim to supplant it with another one, which is what IMN has been advocating for decades. The ban on IMN is appropriate because Nigeria is not a jungle where everyone does as he wishes. It is a country with established laws and a constitution which every citizen and resident most abide by. Shia doesn’t justify or condone disregard and disobedience to laws of the land and constituted authourity. IMN must therefore change and live by the dictates of the Shi’a ideology it professes which prescribes respect for the law and obedience to constituted authourity. One would have expected the IMN to seek legal redress by challenging the ban before a court of competent jurisdiction if it felt its constitutional rights had been infringed by the ban. IMN has no right to flagrantly contravene the ban order by whatever means. Flaunting the ban order under whatever pretext is breaking the law and open challenge to the constitutionally guaranteed powers conferred on the state. Let IMN challenge the ban through legitimate means — the courts if it believes it has a case.
However, the recent scenario that played out in some parts of the north, especially Kaduna, Sokoto and Jos, where armed Wahabi thugs moved on the streets, breaking into homes of IMN members, hacking them to death, looting and destroying their homes amidst chants of “Allahu Akbar” in the name cleansing the “Sunni” community of Shia adherents is nauseatingly barbaric and a call to sectarian anarchy which Saudi Arabia has been yearning for and plotting for years. IMN’s lawless mentality provides the needed ammunition for the Wahabis to actualise their violent sectarian agenda.
Bala Lau’s outbursts in a recent interview on the Hausa service of the BBC following the ban on IMN by Kaduna state government that Nigerian constitution only recognises Islam and not Shia as religion, calling for the proscription of Shia in its entirety and not only IMN, not only exposes his stack ignorance about the Nigerian constitution but also betrays his active involvement in calculated attempt to cause Sunni-Shia sectarian strife in Nigeria similar to what we see happening in some parts of the world at the instigation of Wahabi Saudi Arabia.
— Presidency Nigeria (@NGRPresident) April 23, 2015
It is surprising how Bala Lau has been mischievous over the IMN ban. No doubt IMN claims to be a Shia movement although most of its activities are not rooted in Shia ideology but rather are from its Ikhawanul Muslimeen origin. We all know IMN was the Salafi Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood offshoot prior to 1996 when it declared its switch to Shia. None of its activities has changed apart from inclusion of Shia ceremonies and ritual observances. The Kaduna state ban order explicitly banned IMN as a group and not Shia which is an ideology. When the Nigerian government banned Jama’atu Ahlissunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad known as Boko Haram Bala Lau and his Wahabi bigots didn’t interpret the proscription as a ban on Sunni ideology which Boko Haram professes as its name explicitly states. We never saw Wahabis like Bala Lau and adherents of other Sunni strains being pursued to their homes and killed, with the property looted and their homes destroyed because the government banned Boko Haram Sunni group as we now see the Wahabis trying to orchestrate with their initial unjustified attacks on IMN members. This shows the hypocrisy and sinister motive of Lau and his Wahabi gang.
This new trend is by no means accidental. It is a carefully choreographed plot by Saudi using its Wahabi vassals in Nigeria with the active connivance of rabid Wahabi elements in government establishments as attested by Jabir Sani Maihula, a radical Wahabi element known for his hate speech against Shia. In a post in Hausa on his Facebook page on the attacks on Shia adherents addressed to his Wahabi followers Maihula boasted:
“The proximity of Ahlussunnah (Wahabi) clerics to political leadership for a year has proven more beneficial than preaching for five years. Give your clerics the benefit of doubt, don’t think bad of them. THIS WORK YOU ARE HAPPY ABOUT TODAY IS THEIR HANDIWORK THEY SURREPTITIOUSLY CARRIED OUT AS A RESULT OF THEIR RAPPROCHEMENT WITH THE POLITICAL LEADERSHIP.”
Over the years, Lau and his band of Wahhabi agent provocateurs masquerading as Muslim clerics have been setting the ground for sectarian conflict in Nigeria by using every opportunity to legitimise the shedding of the blood of Shia adherents and calling on the government to outlaw Shia as an Islamic ideology in Nigeria.
Such macabre plot became more glaring with the December 2015 clashes between the IMN and the military in Zaria. Just three months following the Zaria incident, in March 2016 to be precise, Bala Lau organised an international conference on ridding Nigeria of “deviant” Islamic ideologies with the active participation of Saudi Arabia. We saw how Saudi Wahabi clerics prominently featured in the conference. The presence of Prince Turkish Al-Faisal, the head of the Saudi-based Rabita Al-Islami also known as World Islamic League (WIL) at the conference said it all. It is no secret that Rabita Al-Islami is the Saudi-funded umbrella body for spread of Takfiri ideology throughout the world, especially in the Islamic world. Recently, Rabita opened an office in Sokoto where the anti-Shia project in Nigeria was initiated in 2007 where IMN and other non-IMN Shia faithful were targeted, clubbed to death, burnt alive, their homes looted and torched by thugs who called themselves “”Baraden Sunnah” or Sunnah Warriors. The killings were disguised as retaliation over the murder of Umar Dan-Maishiyya, a virulent anti-Shia Salafi cleric, whose death was blamed on IMN without the remotest proof.
It is an irony how Bala Lau has been crookedly trying to force a ban on Shia in a secular state as Nigeria which constitutions guarantees the right of religious practice of whatever faith a citizen chooses as long as he respects the law and the civic rights of fellow compatriots at the instigation of his Saudi paymasters. If Saudi Arabia as a monarchy and a quasi-theocracy where Wahabism is the state religion has not banned Shia adherents who constitute 15 percent of the population, according the US-based PEW Research Institute, despite the persecution yet Bala Lau is hell-bent on doing the bidding of his Saudi benefactors by insisting on Shia ban in secular Nigeria with all the attendant adverse consequences. This is the highest display of irresponsibility lack of patriotism. It shows that Lau doesn’t give a hoot if Nigeria implodes or explodes in carrying out the commands and wishes of his Saudi mentors. He knows he can pack his family and jets out to Saudi Arabia where a rosy welcome and refuge await him. How unpatriotic!
The recent killings are by no means the first orchestrated religious violence spearheaded by Wahabis under the command of Lau and his gang of intolerant bigots.
In 2002 the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria (SCSN), a self-acclaimed Sharia pressure group constituting of Wahabi clerics to which Lau belongs caused a religious violence in Kaduna over the botched ill-thought Miss World Beauty Pageant. It is the worst religious riots the city has ever witnessed in which an estimated 3,000 people perished and unquantifiable property destroyed. Since then, Kaduna has been segregated along religious inclinations with Muslims largely living in the north and Christians in the south of the city. It is on record the SCSN organised the anti-Miss World Pageant protest that degenerated into a full-blown religious conflagration that Kaduna is yet to fully recover from.
It is not in doubt that Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram was a member of the SCSN because everyone knows Boko Haram is a Wahabi-Salafi Takfiri group. Hoards of Wahabi hotheads from Kaduna and Kano inspired by Wahabi radical preaching joined Boko Haram ranks in Maiduguri in the 2009 armed insurrection by the group. It is on record that the Department of State Services (DSS) had to shut down a Wahabi-run Islamiyya in the Unguwar Sunusi area of Kaduna over its Boko Haram links. Scores of young Wahabi adherents were rounded up in Wahabi mosques in Tudun Wada area of Kano city over their Boko Haram membership and their active participation in the 2009 Maiduguri insurrection. These are no isolated cases.
In 2012 Boko Haram appointed the President of the SCSN Dr. Datti Ahmad and its secretary-general Nafi’u Baba Ahmed as its negotiators with the Nigeria. government in a bungled peace talks. For Boko Haram to appoint the duo to negotiate on its behalf shows they have things in common. We all know how Boko Haram views anyone that doesn’t share its insane ideology. Every Takfiri group, whether Alqaeda, IS, Al-Nusra Front, Al-Shabab, Lashkar Eteiba, Boko Haram, etc has its roots in Wahabism propagated by the Saudis, the spiritual mentors of Lau and his Wahabi band.
Boko Haram is the most disturbing phenomenon to every right-thinking Nigerian and anyone who wishes well for the country and its people. A group that has killed am estimated 20,000 people and displaced 2.6 million others from their homes, going by the United Nations figures, (although Borno state put the death toll at more than 100,000) should naturally be the worst enemy of every Nigerian. However we have seen how the Wahabis led by Bala Lau have been expending every calorie and penny in fighting Shia instead. One expects the Wahabis to mobilise able-bodied men to go to the northeast and help in fighting Boko Haram. If Lau can inspire Wahabi thugs to kill IMN members in their homes because of their Shia belief, what stops him from mobilising these same killer beasts to go fight Nigeria’s enemy number one – Boko Haram? The answer is obvious; they are birds of the same feather. It is striking that Boko Haram factional leader Abubakar Shekau declared in his latest video barely two months ago that Shias in Nigeria “are doomed”. Why such threats coming at this time the Saudis are intensifying their morbid campaign against Shia in Nigeria with Bala Lau in the lead. This is no coincidence. It is part of the plan and it shows the subtle link.
The Sambo Dasuki sharing of the billions of dollars meant for the procurement of arms to fight Boko Haram among friends and cronies is still fresh in our minds. We have seen how Bala Lau and his hate-spreading Manara TV pocketed 500 million naira from the funds for the purchase of weapons to fight their Boko Haram offspring. While Boko Haram continued to wreck unimaginable havoc and carnage, Bala Lau was feeding fat on blood money. How can such a character hope for an end to Boko Haram. Little wonder he is desperately working to open another front for sectarian violence by pitching Sunni against Shia as his Saudi benefactors have been relentlessly working to actualise. To Lau, it is familiar waters, it is business as usual.
In March 2015 an eight-member team from Nigeria visited Kuwait on the invitation of the Kuwaiti religious affairs ministry. SCSN secretary-general Nafi’u Baba Ahmed was in the team. In all the several meetings the team had with government officials and agencies Nafiu’s only request was Kuwait’s assistance in checking the rapid spread of Shia in Nigeria. He said that was the major headache of Wahabism! So, Wahabis can live with Boko Haram and all its deadly bombings of homes, mosques, churches, schools, markets, motor parks and other soft targets. They can condone Boko Haram’s butchery and beheading. They can bear with Boko Haram’s abduction and rape of women and girls as well as the conscription of children as fighters. They can ignore Boko Haram’s razing of entire towns and villages, destruction of crop fields and looting of food supplies and livestock on which the lives of millions of people in the northeast and the Lake Chad region depend. But they can’t live with Shia, an ideology rooted in Islam and its over 1,400-year history.
And Nafi’u was only echoing the sentiments of his Saudi sponsors. During my Hajj pilgrimage last year I went on a visit to Jabaluth Thawr (Mount Thawr) outside the city of Mecca where the Prophet took refuge against the pagan infidels on his flight to Medina during the Hijrah (Migration). I met a Wahabi evangelist at a tent at the foot of the mountain which serves as a gateway to the Mount. With his knee-length trousers, bushy beard and insolent mien, typical of murderous Wahabi, this evangelist whose brief was to dissuade people from making the two-hour long trek up the Mountain Wahabis dismiss as an innovation declared that the spread of Shia was the major problem in Nigeria. This was despite the daily Boko Haram deadly bombings, killings and abductions.
This Wahabi intolerance against Shia is a proof of their paucity of intellect and shows how bereft their macabre ideology is. A person with superior argument doesn’t resort to violence. Only the intellectually disadvantaged runs amuck in the face of superior proof. The holy Qur’an never calls us to violence in discourse. “Bring forth your proof if ye are truthful” (Qur’an 2:111) is what the Qur’an commands. If Bala Lau and his Wahabi zealots believe the Shia are deviants as they claim, they should engage them intellectually and not violently. Violence has never smothered an ideology. The history of Shia right from the demise of the holy Prophet (sawa) has been a narrative of persecutions by the enemies of the progeny (ahulbait) of the Prophet (sawa) but Shia has survived to this day because of superior intellect and proof.
The recourse to violence by Wahabis despite aggressive proselytising campaigns through decades of influx of Wahabi literature from Saudi Arabia into Nigeria, the scholarship grant to Wahabis to Jami’atul Madina, the Daurah crash programs, the construction of hate-spewing and divisive mosques and cash inducements is enough testimony to Wahabism’s emptiness.
It shows Bala Lau and his band are not the erudite clerics they claim to be. They are just agents of death at the service of Saudi Muslim butchers for the spread of a grotesque, inhumane and spiritually bereft dogma that has become an anathema to the world of Islam and humanity.