RE: Right to Reply: The Shi’a Victim Syndrome, Paid Mourners and Dangerous Propaganda

The alarming figure of sympathizers to the Islamic Movement in Nigeria is skyrocketing day by day as truth about the clampdown on the movement by the present administration continues to unfold. The perpetrators seem to be comfortless with that. In their bid to justify their atrocities, bogus activist and writers are paid to carry out the task, which is herculean.

On 20th October, 2016 an  Op-ed article on Premium Times which was credited to Chris Ngwodo elaborate Buhari’s stance on  the continued repression of the movement. He vividly showcased the role of Nigerian authorities in the move. Furthermore, he questioned the silence the presidency after the Judicial Commission of Inquiry that was initiated by Kaduna State government was made public. Before then, whenever President Buhari was quizzed about the issue, he used the JCI panel as a pretext.

A day after, Premium Times came up with an editorial that gone viral within the social media community and beyond. It cautioned the Nigerian government on the way and manner it handling the issue. While Kaduna State Governor Nasiru El-Rufai’s statement of banning IMN in the state was seen as what gave hoodlums the impetus to attack the peaceful mourners on Wednesday 12 October while embarking on Ashura procession that takes place annually to mourn the killing of Imam Hussain the Grandson of Prophet Muhammad in 62AH by an Ummayad Caliph, Yazid bn Muawiyya.

The action of the hoodlums was condemned unanimously, likewise the soldiers that gave them shield. In fact, even the radical Sunni scholars like Alhaji  Bala Lau that enticed the youth through sermons and write-ups. The predetermined attack took place in notably, Kaduna, Funtua, Kano, Sokoto and Jos. Sums of about 12 people were recorded dead while several sustained various degrees of injuries. 

The trend seemed to nauseate some unscrupulous writers. One Gabriel Onoja is among the  clique it upsets as he stated in an op-ed article on Premium Times dated 24th October, titled ‘The Shi’a Victim Syndrome, Paid Mourners and Dangerous Propaganda’ in which he accused the Islamic movement of terrorism, agents of chaos and anarchy which is far from the truth.

Onoja who is a Trojan horse to the masterminds of the Zaria massacre has been recognized for his campaign of calumny against IMN. In August, the said Onoja through a faceless group, Coalition against Terrorism and Extremism (CATE) released a statement alarming the President on the threat IMN poses to the Nigerian securities which he failed woefully.

Read him “…the first protection that minorities-be they ethnic, religious or sectarian –need to be shielded from the danger posed by IMN. Beyond making life unbearable for everyone, the sect has been promoting the idea that insurrections can be carried out without consequences. No minority group should buy into this fallacy.’’

What is obvious in the aforementioned statement by the said writer which I quoted verbatim is his prolonged ill will and malice to IMN. It sounds naïve and illogical to accuse the Islamic Movement of terror. For over 4 decades of it existence nobody ‘be they ethnic, religious or sectarian’ can accuse the movement of amoral behavior.

During the 2011 post election violence that ushered bloodshed in the Northern part of the country, Gyallesu in Zaria was the residence of IMN leader, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky stood odd during the crisis. Christains and other minority tribes seek shield in his residence. Igbos from nuke and crannies of Zaria trooped to the ‘safe haven’. The injured ones among were treated by Sheikh Zakzaky’s personal Doctor, Dr Mustapha Sa’eed and a guild of medical practitioners of the movement.

In 2014, 3 undergraduate sons of Sheikh Zakzaky were killed alongside 31 people while protesting the illegal occupation of Palestine. Sheikh Zakzaky sued for peace, calling his disciples to order. For more than 40 consecutive days, people from all walk of life trooped into the residence of Sheikh Zakzaky to sympathize and shower encomiums.

Gabriel Onoja may be a poor student of history or paid stooge to tarnish the reputation of the movement and its leadership. Onoja and his cohorts should educate themselves about IMN, which is an ideology not a group or an organization that can be banned.

Mahdi Garba writes  from Jos