Zaria Massacre and the Apologetic Eulogists
By Abdulmumin Giwa
I have observed from some newspaper editorials and features how the Kaduna state Governor Nasir El-Rufai has been praised for setting up the Judicial Commission of Inquiry JCI while also called upon to implement the whitepaper thereafter.
What I am more concerned about is whether the governor El-Rufai is worthy of the praises judging by the role he played in the massacre.
To divert a little, I think those who produce features, editorials and analysis in our Nigerian newspapers need to be doing more. We need to see some touches of research, investigation and logical analysis in what they write.
Instead of adapting to these ethical principles of journalistic professionalism, they seem to just get carried away by some sentiment an emotionalism and probably compromise their pen by writing for certain financial and or material benefits.
This results to poor outputs with unsubstantiated and weak submissions on sensitive and important issues that require in-depth analysis to arrive at conclusions.
This is necessary because such write-ups have their subsequent adverse effects on the generality of the public. Such writings are more like those of an ignorant person posing as a teacher and inducing the public with trash.
Secondly, the basic function of the profession of being the watchdog of the society is also abused and misplaced. The result of which promotes sensationalism and the bad works of wicked public and political office holders.
Now back on track, I feel disappointed with the way the Kaduna Governor was eulogized by a series of writers who simply don’t know or deliberately over-look the role he played in the December 2015 Zaria massacre.
Firstly the unfortunate mass killings took place in his state and could not have possibly been without his consent or knowledge.
As confirmed by the Amnesty International, other reputable by human rights organizations and other available video clips, the Army after killing as many as they could cordoned the affected areas and clear the places of all the bullet and bomb shells they used as well as bloodstains in the affected places.
From all indications and to be fair to the Islamic Movement in Nigeria IMN, the clampdown on the movement was not accidental but a pre-planned operation meant to scare away and scatter the IMN members by killing as many as possible including the leadership and in particular the leader of the Movement Sheikh Ibraheem Zakazaky.
For reasons best known to them and the most vivid reason of belonging to an Islamic religious understanding that differs from theirs, in other words, for their sectarian sentiments, the Governor and his likes fell in a romance with the terror-laden Wahhabists to form a united force against the Shi’ite Movement.
In the process of executing their plans, the roles to be played by the Governor, those to be played by the Wahhabi sectarians and those to be played by the army were outlined.
The Governor on his side indicted the Movement in his maiden speech labeling unsubstantiated false claims against it in order to give it a bad name to help hang it. This was the first step he took as part of his roles.
As the state Governor, he used his office to indict the movement and falsely accuse it of forcefully acquiring public property and mosques without giving any instance or example.
He used state owned machinery to demolish the Husainiyya Baqiyyatullah Islamic center of the movement, the house of the leader of the movement, the cemetery and film village of the movement and the tomb of Sheikh Zakzaky’s mother.
In order to help the Army hide the figures of those they have butchered and as a cover-up activity, after the demolition they packed away the rubbles thereby tampering with physical evidences that prove the use of very heavy explosives on innocent, unarmed civilians. The Governor later deceived the public that he did that for environmental reasons.
After the Army had killed over 1000 people, he assisted them with state owned machinery to bury the suppose corpses in mass graves across the state.
Those buried were not confirmed dead through genuine medical processes because they were in a hurry to hide and deflate the figures of those killed in order to deceive the public.
The burial took place with the Governor’s consent in the middle of the night where the corpses and most possibly IMN members that are alive but carrying bullet wounds, were buried in mass graves.
This is confirmed even by the JCI to be in contravention of the Geneva Convention, Kaduna state laws and the religious laws as well.
In those mass graves, they buried men, women and children together with many possibly alive but battling with injuries from bullet wounds. Imagine how heartless this is.
The movement as a peaceful entity instead of becoming violent as the perpetrators expected in their plot went to seek redress through peaceful means by heading to courts of law that were avoided by the Governor, the President and the Army.
One of the courts is the International Criminal Court ICC, where Governor El-Rufai is one of those listed to be investigated for crimes against humanity.
Their plan continued and the JCI was commissioned by the Governor to help indict the Movement and justify the killings in Zaria.
There also El-Rufai carefully selected his Wahhabi brothers who have earlier called for the killing of IMN members even in books they have written and placed them as members of the commission.
In fact the secretary of the commission met with the Wahhabi sect members in a particular hotel in Kaduna where they plotted how they could use the opportunity to ban the IMN meaning that the governor was represented by him.
The commission together with the government worked hand-in-hand to ensure that those guilty of crimes against humanity including the Governor were absolved.
This they did by deliberately refusing to bring the primary victims of the killings or their relations before the commission.
This is even as the state Governor is holding 191 of the members of the IMN in Kaduna Prison on cropped-up charges and the leader of the movement Sheikh Zakzaky is with the State Security Service.
All of them were not brought before the JCI for cross-examination and the counsel representing Sheikh Zakzaky was also refused access to him while the JCI pressurized the Sheikh’s team of lawyers to simply submit a memo.
More so, the counsel to the commission visited Sheikh Zakzaky in detention and lied to him that they were independent counsels wanting to represent him in order to deceive him.
As the commission was sitting many people and groups all of whom are the Governor’s Wahhabi brothers were practically sponsored to present falsehood before the commission to indict the IMN in the name of memo.
All of them went there to repeat the unsubstantiated accusations labeled by the Governor against the IMN when he set the commission.
In its report the JCI mentioned that there was contravention of both state and international laws in the mass burial of IMN members but refused to make recommendations on that because the governor is guilty of the crimes.
The JCI refused to confirm who was dead and who was alive among those buried, it refused to talk about the fate of the affected families and relations concerning their buried ones, it refused to talk about exhuming them and handing them over to their relations for proper burials. It also refused to talk about compensating them and paying damages as well.
The JCI also refused to blame the Governor for this crime against humanity and propose the type of prosecution he is to face. It only passed by it as if those killed were ants or they have nobody.
What then is praiseworthy about the Governor when he is only manipulating the public after playing a major role in the killing of innocent unarmed civilians for simply belonging to a different religious understanding with him?
Initially their plan was never to reveal the figures of those they killed. Their plan was to hide it from the public but were pre-empted by the reports of the Amnesty international which released the satellite footages of disturbed earth before the killings and after which proved that there was a mass grave.
Hence the Governor could not hide it any longer and so the Sectary to the State Government confessed the mass burial of 347 members of the IMN before the JCI.
It was at this juncture that the romance of the Governor with the Army was shaken because the army wanted to maintain that hey killed only seven after killing over 1000 but unfortunately the Governor was forced to reveal half the truth.
I say it is half the truth because the IMN had published in various media outfits and national dailies names and profiles of 950 of its members missing since the pogrom which the commission had deliberately refused to consider. It only considered the 347 confessed by the state government against the interest of the Army, what about the remaining 603?
This suggests further that there are yet other mass graves which the Amnesty International had not mentioned and so the government looked away from it as well.
Without venturing into these facts and many more discrepancies there is no way one could simply pick up his pen and begin to praise and eulogize the Governor when it is clear that he managed himself out of blame using the JCI as his tool.
What dignity or integrity has the JCI to deserve the eulogy? To cap it all up, the Governor and the Army were duly represented in the JCI while the IMN and independent human rights organizations were not as is the practice. What manner of a Judicial Commission.
In violation of the principles of natural justice the commission sat and made recommendations without hearing from the IMN at all. This is an abuse of the ethics of justice and fairness and yet the writers are calling for the implementation of the concocted whitepaper. One wonders what they are thinking with. Is it their brains or their pockets?
More so, there are a lot of contradictions between the Inquiry by the JCI and its recommendations which suggests that the recommendations were since written even before the inquiry was concluded. It appears those writing and praising the Governor are yet to go through the pages of the submissions to determine these facts. Please respect the pen and the profession. If you have nothing to say just keep mute and avoid the apologetic eulogy.