by Ibraheem Waziri
My chief concern in this regard is lives were lost. 172 corpses seen by some doctors at ABU Teaching Hospital, today’s morning, and more being brought there. This is enough of a tragedy. Muhammadu Turi, a top hierarchy leader in the movement is also killed. My fervent plea to the Nigerian Army is it should not allow us wake up another day to the news of Elzakzaky’s death in its custody. Shi’ism revolves around the immortality of martyrs. The ideology is watered by the blood of those who die in, what adherents see, as an active service for it. More so, when the martyr, is a distinguished leader of a high caliber, like El-Zakzaky who is now addressed as Ayatullahi (PressTV) and a Sayyid (part of the progeny of the Holy Prophet)! This call is necessary because in July 2014 and in similar circumstance, the Nigerian Army caught hold of some of Zakzaky’s children and others only to have them die in its custody.
There is enough widely shared detail about what led to the faceoff between the Nigerian Army and the Shi’ites that fateful Saturday, 12/12/2015, and I am not likely to be able to bring any new insight. The blood of those who died however lay squarely on the shoulders of the Nigerian Army who perpetrated the killings and Ibrahim El-Zakzaky who has always fed his followers with the narrative of non-respect or compliance with the established social hierarchies set by the state.
I have always defended the right of the Shi’ites to hold their processions, even if they inconvenience others, and as long as they are okay(ed) by the government. My argument is those of us who feel the processions must stop should address the government with their concerns for it to act. After all the Darika groups, the Izala, Christians and political groupings often hold gatherings that register a lot of inconveniences on others. There are Muslim groups who locate Friday Mosques close to highways obstructing the flow of traffic, each Friday and for hours.
I think what makes Shi’ites’ or Zakzaky’s events and activities so unique is when they take control of roads and passages no authority or social hierarchy is respected or given preference other than their own. In Zaria they have once subjected the Emir of Zazzau to their event’s traffic management rules. They have done same to the governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero then. July 2014, they have attempted subjecting the Army Commandant of Basawa Barrack to same but he objected and that led to serious crisis that saw the army killing some of the children of Zakzaky and others caught. In that we all, without mincing words condemned the actions of the Nigerian Army.
While it is easy to see the wisdom in all the sited cases above, to have the prominent social figures, subjected to the events’ traffic management rules of the Shi’ites – because violating them often lead to serious confusion due to the numbers of pedestrians and vehicles on the roads – it may not be same with the case of Saturday 12/12/2015 as the details and pictures show how the Nigerian Army contingent with the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) wanted to negotiate their passage easily and safely. There was an unruly Shi’ite who is fed enough with the narrative of the Nigerian authority as an enemy. He decided to use a local weapon, a catapult, on the contingent of the Army in the middle of the negotiation.
Certainly Zakzaky shares alot of the blame. Being law-abiding as he has always claimed includes submitting and teaching his followers to respect the constituted authority. He has never done that. Even after the first set of skirmish with the COAS in the immediate, he has not tried to control his people asking them to remain calm like he did in July, 2014. They kept flowing into Zaria in his solidarity. The army acted in a typical military way even though in a democratic atmosphere. In fact it was the army that got proactive to stop the inflow of Zakzakites into Zaria yesterday, probably having believed they have killed enough.
But why didn’t the Shi’ite leadership – all through the evenings of Saturday to the morning of Sunday – talk to its followers to stop bringing themselves to Zaria, Gyallesu to be killed by the Nigerian Army that have shown over the years, enough capability to kill other Nigerians without remorse? The military had gone to Zakzaky’s private residence and indicated that they wanted to take him with them that evening. Why the Shi’ites around tried to resist? Why did Zakzaky refuse to show up until the military hit his neighborhood and after several warnings, after his many followers killed, after his house burnt, after one of his deputies killed?