TUER UN IDEOLOGISTE, C’EST ELIMINER UNE PERSONNE, PAS L’IDEOLOGIE
Des accrochages mortels entre l’Armée nigériane et les Chiites du Mouvement Islamique du Nigeria (IMN), qui ont eu lieu le Samedi 12 décembre 2005 dans la ville de Zaria, se sont conclues par plusieurs victimes : l’Armée cite une dizaine de morts alors que l’IMN dénombre 500.
Selon l’Armée nigériane, l’un de ses convois a été attaqué par les fidèles d’Ibrahim Zakzaky, le chef du l’IMN aux environs de 2h30. Des centaines de fidèles brandissant des armes dangereuses avaient barricadé les artères avec du feu provenant de pneus brulés et de grosses pierres. Malgré le dialogue initié par l’Armée, les fidèles Chiites ont refusé de se disperser, mais au contraire, se sont mis à lancer des pierres et ont ouvert le feu. Alors, les troupes, responsables de la sûreté et la sécurité du Chef d’Etat-major (Tukur Buratai), une fois alertées des explosions et des fusillades, n’avaient aucun choix que de défendre leur Chef et son convoi. Pour le porte-parole de l’Armée, il s’agit là d’un attentat à la vie de leur Chef et des membres de son entourage. Leur fusillade a fait 7 morts et 20 blessés.
Le porte-parole du mouvement IMN conteste que leurs membres n’étaient pas armés. Les soldats ont plutôt ouvert le feu sur les Chiites après le passage du convoi du Chef d’Etat-Major de l’Armée nigériane et après qu’ils ont sollicité des renforts.
Mais, l’Iran déplore qu’après les affrontements, les soldats nigérians sont descendus sur la maison de Zakzaky dans un raid qui a fait plusieurs morts. Le gouvernement iranien a officiellement déclaré, ce 15 décembre, que cette violence exercée par les militaires sur les fidèles Chiites était « inacceptable ».
Le Chiisme, l’une des trois principales branches de l’Islam avec le sunnisme et le kharidjisme, regroupe environ 10 à 15 % des musulmans, dont 90 % de la population iranienne. Les Chiites refusent les trois premiers califes (Abu Bakr, Omar et Othman) et considèrent le 4e successeur, Ali, l’infaillible comme digne successeur immédiat de Mahomet. La population musulmane du Nigéria est en grande partie sunnite alors que le nombre des Chiites augmente graduellement autour du leadership de Zakzaky.
Malgré les accusations et contre-accusations, le Président Buhari n’a pas encore prononcé un discours officiel sur les incidents. Peut-être qu’il attend qu’un rapport détaillé soit conclu.
Evidemment, les réactions des internautes n’ont pas fait tarder. Elles accusent les Chiites de leur mépris des autorités nationales et de leur provocation d’une part, et d’autre part, de l’excès de violence et l’impunité exercés par les forces de l’ordre.
Sur Facebook, Enyi Harbor demande aux organisations religieuses et socio-politiques de respecter les règles et les lois établis. Cependant, l’armée doit comprendre qu’il s’agit d’un conflit interne qui est de la juridiction de la Police. L’armée doit éviter les excès afin de prévenir la naissance d’un autre Boko Haram.
Mustapha Nuhu commande l’Armée de n’avoir pas compromis la sécurité nationale et de prévenir l’importation des enjeux géopolitiques impériaux du Moyen-Orient dans notre psychose religieuse.
Rafiu Sanni craint les ramifications internationales éventuelles engageant des états mieux organisés que l’Etat Islamique ou Al-Qaeda. Le Président Buhari doit demander à ces collègues militaires de réduire leur zèle.
Baba Gombe Ibrahim et Muhammad Nafiu affirment que l’Armée a déjà accordé assez de respect aux fidèles Chiites lorsque leur Chef est descendu en personne pour plaider avec ceux qui ont formé le blocage de la voie. Pour qui ces Chiites se prennent-ils dans un pays où les soldats meurent dans la lutte pour l’éradication des insurgés de Boko Haram ?
Awwal Gulak atteste qu’une organisation dite religieuse doit reconnaître et se soumettre à l’autorité politique en place.
Abubakar Adam soutient que tout civil qui brandit des armes contre l’armée devient un terroriste.
Abdulrahman Musa Yola dit que l’action des Chiites contre les Forces de l’ordre est une déclaration de guerre.
Umar Masoro affirme qu’il s’agit d’un crime contre l’humanité orchestré par l’Armée nigériane, quelle que soit la nature de la provocation et sollicite une enquête par des organisations civiles des droits de l’homme.
Abdullahi Hassan Ali, suite à la nouvelle de l’assassinat de l’épouse et du fils de Zakzaky suivie de la destruction de l’Etat-major des Chiites, craint le pire : tuer un idéologiste peut prendre sa vie, mais pas l’idéologie.
Aare Tope Alamposer d’Great soutient l’action de l’armée nigériane dont les troupes sont en état de guerre contre les insurgés de Boko Haram. Ce sont les soldats qui meurent pour assurer l’autonomie territoriale du Nigéria, pas les internautes. Il leur incombe de prendre des mesures contre quiconque présenterait des signes d’insurrection.
SHIITE SECT ATTACKS CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF’S CONVOY
The Shiite Sect on the orders of their leader, Ibrahim Alzak-zaky today afternoon in Zaria attacked the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff while on his way to pay homage on the Emir of Zazzau and attend the Passing Out Parade of 73 Regular Recruits Intake of Depot Nigerian Army, Zaria.
The sect numbering hundreds carrying dangerous weapons, barricaded the roads with bonfires, heavy stones and tyres. They refused all entreaties to disperse and then started firing and pelting the convoy with dangerous objects.
The barricade was obviously a deliberate attempt to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff and members of his entourage while on a legitimate official assignment as Special Guest of Honour at the passing out parade which has earlier been widely publicized.
The troops responsible for the safety and security of the Chief of Army Staff on hearing explosion and firing were left with no choice than to defend him and the convoy at all cost as well as open up the barricaded road for law abiding citizens. This is in line with the Nigerian Army Rules of Engagement and Code of Conduct.
This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated from any individual or groups and should not be allowed to repeat itself.
We wish to implore all Nigerians to continue to be law abiding and remain conscious of other people’s right to life, freedom of movement and passage.
The Chief of Army escaped unhurt and continued with his duties.
Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman
Acting Director Army Public Relations
Ahmed Musa Husaini: Shia-Military Clashes and the Road to Anarchy
For the past 24 hours, I have been keenly following the tragic turn of events in Zaria and the numerous commentaries that follow.
It is difficult to exonerate both sides from blame. But what is happening is both avoidable and inevitable: avoidable if we were proactive in preempting emerging conflict scenarios, and inevitable because it was very obvious that Shia activities along the busy Sokoto road are a recipe for clashes.
I have lived in Zaria and had warned about the potential for conflict between the Shia sect and other rival Muslim sects and non-Muslim groups.
Two things are very clear in the ongoing conflict: initial Shia provocation and contempt for constituted authority and the Nigerian military’s overreaction and high-handedness.
We have to understand the history between the two to arrive at the causes and likely consequences of the ongoing conflict.
But, What Actually Happened?
Shia activities blocked traffic along the ever busy Sokoto road, the COAS convoy was caught in the unfortunate mix and the COAS was personally negotiating his passage when a projectile was hurled at his direction and all hell broke loose. The soldiers guarding the COAS responded with live fire. The Nigerian military called it an assassination attempt on its head because the projectile was metallic and fired from a device. The Shia movement called it an unprovoked atttack on their defenseless members.
But it was not yet over.
Military reinforcement later came in as a show of force and in order ‘to teach the Shia a lesson.’ The rest is now tragedy recorded in a rapidly rising casualty toll.
It is obvious that the ongoing conflict is built on a foundation of decades of distrust between the sect and the Nigerian state and its instruments of power, a distrust that is at the heart of Shia ideology. Events of last year are still fresh in the memories of both the sect and the military, and both sides reacted to the ongoing situation with the cumulative fury of past grievances.
The response of the military at the Husainiyyah area was at best, understandable, and can be somewhat justified on the argument of defending the COAS with all options, but the military’s subsequent mobilization to Gyallesu, the destruction of Zakzaky’s residence and murder of his family members and followers leave much to be desired. It was disproportionate, indefensible and extrajudicial.
There is no doubt that our laws, both Islamic and secular, do not confer or transfer burden of culpability on/to an individual by virtue of kinship to an alleged perpetrator of a crime, much less the power to destroy his house or kill his family or relatives.
The argument that no Nigerian religious group has the right to block traffic (whether civilian or military) is non-debatable, so also is the argument that our Armed Forces should deploy proportionate force in quelling internal conventional uprising. I believe, after securing the COAS passage, arresting Zakzaky becomes an internal security affair that is better conducted by the police and can be effected via simple invitation as both groups were expected to work towards de-escalating the situation.
That did not happen.
It is also true that Zakzaky is to blame for the conduct of his members, for indoctrinating them on a steady ideological diet that secular governments are evil and must be disrespected and held in utmost contempt. He leads a parallel quasi-political movement side by side a spiritual one that is akin to a state within a state with the ultimate aim (in theory) of dethroning the existing order and replacing it with an Iran-style theocracy. This type of teaching is a recipe for conflict and no serious state would tolerate that in the long run.
Superficially, there is no problem in pursuing any ideology one feels strongly about, the right of religion is fundamental and non-derogable. But while Zakzaky understands the difference between his ideological rhetoric and strategic pragmatism of the Nigerian state and its agents, most of his followers don’t, and will seek ways to translate their revolutionary rhetoric into actions. That is what was probably in the mind of that lone Shiite that hurled a projectile at the COAS direction. He never realized the true gravity of his action and its symbolic and real implications on the capability and image of the Nigerian army.
There is also a sense of a siege mentality, a persecution complex among Nigerian Shiites that is reinforced by anti-Shia sentiments and discrimination within the largely sunni Nigerian Muslim community. It is true that the Shiites are targeted for some infractions that would be tolerably condoned if perpetrated by mainstream Muslim groups and even genuine Shia grievances are dismissed as the intra-Muslim affair that they are by non-Muslim groups, or as illegitimate ranting of a heretical group by the mainstream sunni majority. But it is also true that Zakzaky deliberately sought to build his group on that narrative of sectarian victimhood that characterized Shia’s evolution through centuries of Islamic history.
It is high time the Shia discard that old fashioned narrative and embrace pragmatism. Religious groups should not operate with impunity. They must respect the existing laws of the country. Religious groups are expected to embrace and legitimize a national master narrative and inculcate the virtues of law and order into their adherents and not promote impunity and contempt for the rule of law and right of others.
Behind this veneer of perennial conflicts between the Shia sect and the Nigerian security agencies is a latent Iran-Saudi and Iran-Israel rivalry at play, and this must be thoroughly investigated if we are looking for lasting solutions. There are many internal and external dimensions or what I call externally instigated internal dimensions to the ongoing conflict which are beyond the scope of public discourse, and which if not handled carefully may snowball into another national security challenge. We must do everything to prevent Nigeria from becoming another battleground for middleeast geopolitics.
But fundamentally, we have to reexamine the role of religious groups, the military and other security agencies in a truly democratic Nigerian setting. Because if we allow religious groups to operate with impunity, and our security agencies confront impunity with more impunity, then we ask for more Boko Haram, and more Boko Haram we shall get, and we will never cease to wonder why our problems continue to defy solutions.
May God heal our wounds!
Aliyu U. Tilde: The Law Is the Answer, Not Massacres
What happened in Zaria where in the end over a hundred lives were lost by noon yesterday is very disturbing, unfortunate and stands condemned by any civilized person.
I have earlier condmened in very strong terms all religious leaders who break the law, inflict untold hardship on the public and generate crises that lead to loss of lives. I hope religious leaders will take heed and allow us some breathing space. Obedience to law, as I said then, is a fundamental requisite of peace even among animals.
The option for anyone who does not recognise the authority of his or her country is either to fight it, as Boko Haram has done, or migrate to where he thinks is better for him. But to remain under the political umbrella of a nation, disobey its laws and think that nothing will happen is a mere fallacy. Our religious leaders and their followers can migrate to Iran – if they are Shi’ites, or to Saudi Arabia – if they are Wahabis or Salafis, or to Senegal or Baghdad – if they are sufis, once they are not satisfied with the laws that will ensure the peace we need to live and practice our religion as much as we can. Let them let us, we Nigerians, alone. We want peace.
More deplorable, however, is how the Nigerian authorities react to citizen conflicts. The gun, to the military and the police, is the answer. Only a barbarian can think and act so. In any civilisation, the sanctity of life is supreme and it must not be violated except through legitimate legal recourse. The law has laid down procedures for handling any form of crime in manners that conform to equitable ethical standards. To violate the law in pursuing its purpose is a greater crime than the offence the agent purports to stop.
On this, the act of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) on whose behalf yesterday’s atrocities were committed, is a violation of the law, worse than the recalcitrant behaviour of the Shi’ites that I earlier condemned. By God, whoever pulls the trigger on any of our citizens at the slightest provocation is not our soldier. He is an animal. Simple and clear. He does not deserve to be on our payroll. He does not deserve to be entrusted with the noble profession of the military, whoever he may be. A noble soldier derives pleasure in respecting the law and its citizens, not in their death.
While we Nigerians intensify efforts to call our religious leaders to order such that they accord better respect to the fundamental rights of citizens, our noble President must call his COAS to order. The culprits that massacred armless Nigerians yesterday in Zaria must be brought to book. Otherwise, the Lord above does not go to sleep. He is awake and busy, every time. He will revenge for the innocent.
My heart bleeds for this nation. But cry not, Nigeria. One day, this will be history.
Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
It is nearly impossible to determine now what really went down in Zaria. As my son, Mitterand Okorie, points out, too many versions and counter-versions. But this much is certain – and you should know this, irrespective of your religion, ethnicity or party affiliation:
1) Ordinarily, military presence in civilian areas the way we have it in Nigeria is an aberration. Let’s make an allowance: things are not normal in the North. It’s a war zone, technically.
2) Even where we make this generous allowance, if for any reason, if for any reason, if for any reason, soldiers kill a civilian in a civilian area, an explanation to the country from their Commander-in-Chief becomes obligatory.
3) When one hundred civilians are killed in civilian spaces – even if they were breaking the law – by soldiers, and you do not hear from your President, it is called “criminal silence”. In a proper democracy, it could cost him his job at worst or exact a heavy political price from him at best.
On a final note, I am beginning to patently dislike the haughty arrogance of the Buhari Presidency whenever there is loss of lives. And don’t nobody give me that canard about how the routine of killings somehow immunizes the Presidency from reacting to every case.
In America, President Obama has an epidemic of mass shootings by American terrorists. The day he fails to address his nation on the occasion of just one mass shooting – because he somehow thinks that there will be Stockholm Syndromed citizens ready to argue that he does not need to address every occasion – he is playing with fire. When your troops kill civilians, you do not leave things to the Army High Command to issue arrogant statements directing the public to go about their normal duties and to report stuff to the police. When did it become in the place of the military to be issuing public directives?
This why Nnamdi Kanu calls you a zoo. Anvbody will pick up the phone and order cash from the Central Bank; Christians and Muslims will just stand up and block roads; soldiers will stand up and mop up civilians and issue inane directives after that; the presidency will not react, knowing that the citizenry lacks enough civic capital to understand that she is owed explanations by her President in such circumstances. How else do you define a zoo?
Note to the Presidency – some of us are multitaskers. That we are following Dasukigate very closely does not mean we are distracted. We can detect how and where you are failing even while monitoring Dasuki.
Tell us what happened in Zaria.
Tell us why one hundred civilians died in the hands of the military.
Announce an inquiry. There may be need to punish some soldiers.
Warn Muslims and Christians – especially the tithe-billionaires on the Lagos-Ibadan expresway that Zaria marks the beginning of the end of their lawlessness of blocking Nigerian roads with their religious events.
Someone is asking what is the Nigeria army chief of staff doing in Zara? As the chief of army staff to the Nigerian army he has the moral obligation to visit his command and see thing first hand. Remember the saying!! there is no smoke without fire .That is my answer!!!You think with all that is happening in Nigeria of today the military will seat back and allow another religious group to take over from where Book Haram stops? There will be no Nigeria if you allow group like Boko haram and shiite group to exist. In the new today ,the Iranian government invited the Nigerian embassidor to Iran to come explain the killing in shiite territory in Nigeria.For more information on that visit press tv.That action leaves me with alot of questions . Why didnt the iran government invite our ambassidor in the area for assistance when boko haram was killing every body in the North region? Why didn’t the Iran government send their troops to support Nigerian military when book Haram was running over the north? Over the year we have had that these militants were backed by groups outside Nigeraia. In my opinion l think there is more to what we know or what the eye can see. It is sad that lives were lost , specially going by the report of innocent children that were killed. However, we all know the history of these militants and how destructive they would be and the Nigerian army had suffered alot of causality in the recent past. There is more to what we know or see.My condolence to the people who lost their lives. May God continue provide them all the support they need at this critical times.