Barely had I spent two days in Kano metropolis when I encountered a terrible hold-up along the infamous Sabon-Gari road. I initially thought it could have been caused by an accident or a type of inexplicable and needless hold-ups prevalent in Lagos because of its mega-city status- being a commercial hub and also, sharing the cosmopolitan nature of Kano.
Surprisingly, I beheld a long queue of protesters- young and old, male and female, marching along the motorists lane, hoisting placards, and more conspicuously the picture of the incarcerated Shi’ite Leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky.
This scenario would not have sprung any surprise if it had been enacted in Kaduna or even more precisely, Zaria, the stronghold of the sect, but this is Kano.
At the rear of the protesting train, was a stream of young boys, clad in black and white, waiving black flags, with some others holding unidentifiable items.
This encounter gave the initial shock to me. However, upon traversing the city, I found out the sect had actually been on rampage, violating and defacing public properties. Prominent among the defaced are the ‘beautiful’ Kwankwasiyya bridges with several phrases of threats and outbursts.
Some of the phrases include; ‘Free Zakzaky’, ‘Why not Free Zakzaky?’, ‘We are all Zakzaky’ ..Who is Afraid of Zakzaky’, ‘Why not protect Zakzaky’ amongst many others.
I found it difficult to reconcile between the feeling of denial being expressed by the protesters because of extraordinary detention of a popular figure, and government’s decision to ignore the plea of the belligerent group.
It is however time Ibrahim Zakzaky and his sect realised why they should have a rethink and retrace their steps.
A confused Creed
By creed, Shi’ism is a mixture of Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, ancient paganism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but wrapped with Islamic terminologies with many infiltrated dogmas that transformed into a new religion. Even within Shii’sm it is pretty difficult for anyone to categorically state what it stands for or propagates.
Hence, it is outrightly unfortunate and absolutely misplaced that Shii’sm is often always linked with Islam.
A number of scholarly works have been published exposing and uncovering their ruse to further reinstate the confused nature of their religion.
Disregard for Government
Nigerians will not forget in a hurry the unfortunate 2-day crisis which started on 12th December, 2015 when Shia worshippers attending a religious ceremony obstructed the convoy of Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, prompting the Nigerian Army to unleash military force which was said to have cost the lives of about 349 Shi’a worshippers.
This ultimately set the stage for a crack down on the sect. In the same incident, Ibrahim Zakzaky was reported to have lost an eye and became partially paralyzed.
One would naturally feel a level of sympathy towards the Shi’ites for the unfortunate incident but with in depth reportage, it was clear to Nigerians that Zakzaki group actually displayed a sheer act of insubordination towards the Nigerian Military. The military maintains its soldiers acted according to the rules of engagement after the crowd attempted to assassinate their leader.
Series of reports indicates that the Shia sect recognized no other government except the Iranian and some other Shi’a government. It would also be recalled that in an aftermath of the December 12th event, Iran issued a threat against the Nigeria state demanding for the release of Zakzaky and other incarcerated followers.
Decisiveness of Nigerian Government
An impressive thing the Nigerian Government has been able to do is hold its ground on the decision not to release embattled Zakzaky, the same way it’s held its ground on others who constitute threats to national peace and unity, just as it has done on Nnamdi Kanu and many Boko Haram terrorists among others.
Many who thought the Nigerian Government would eventually bulge under pressure or as a result of incessant protests now know better. So, it’s only logical that they (Shi’ites) stop pursuing a lost cause.
No Room for Boko Haram-Like uprising
With the present government obviously winning the war against Boko Haram, it is only expected that all measures to forestall a re-occurence of the scenario that led to the insurgence of Boko Haram’s ‘madness’ must be forestalled.
Similarly, it is obvious that the mysterious circumstance which led to the death of the founder of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf while in police custody is not unconnected with what Boko Haram has become today. Many of his followers claimed he was murdered while In detention contrary to the police claim that he attempted to escape from the custody.
It is equally known from the unmistaken reports of foreign media that many unarmed followers of Yusuf – including children and women- were gruesomely murdered by the police in broad day light. This must also be probed to facilitate justice which is a concomitant of peace.
Taking a cue from this, it is pertinent to ensure such scenario doesn’t replay itself in Zakzaky’s case. Despite stories of the deteriorating health of Zakzaky, it is heartening to note that he is still very much alive under constant monitoring. With this, it is virtually impossible to have another Mohammed Yusuf’s case
Iran vs Nigeria
The Shi’ite sect must realize that as much as they regard the Iranian government as their proprietary government, they still reside in Nigeria and are bound by its laws They must realize that it is foolhardy to think they can exist in a vacuum; by living in Nigeria with no regard to the authorities and without respect for other people’s rights and privileges.
The Shiite sect in Nigeria must realise that, irrespective of its relationship with Iran, Nigeria’s sovereignty frees her from foreign interference into her affairs. So, no matter how much of nuclear weapon Iran possesses, its efforts to assist Zakzaky and his followers in Nigeria, outside the prevailing laws, is quite limited.
Oyetunji Mukhtar Oyelakin is a member of TRNG Writers Club