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SHI’ITES VS ARMY CLASHES: WHEN LAWLESSNESS MEETS LAWLESSNESS

On Saturday last week and yesterday (Monday), there were violent clashes between Shiite Islamic followers in Nigeria, otherwise known as the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and men of the Nigerian Army in the Zuba and Nyanya areas of the FCT, Nigeria’s capital city. According to Maj.Gen James Myam, Commandant Army Headquarters Garrison, members of IMN mounted an illegal roadblock in Zuba and attacked an Army convoy carrying ammunitions. As you’d expect, the Islamic body has denied this allegation. In that Saturday clash, newspapers reported that three Shi’ite members were killed and two soldiers were wounded. Yesterday’s Nyanya area clash with the Army occurred during the group’s annual trek exercise/procession.

One of the main grievance of the group is the continuing detention of its leader in Nigeria; Shiek Ibraheem El-Zakzaky. Recall that El-Zakzaky was arrested after the December 2015 clash in Zaria (Kaduna State) when, according to the Army, the group made attempts to assassinate Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff. Again, as is expected, the Islamic body had denied that allegation by the Nigerian Army. Recall also that the courts had, on several occasions, delivered judgments in favour of the release of El-Zakzaky on bail but the Federal Government, particularly the Presidency, has vehemently refused to obey the courts. The FG’s reason? That El-Zakzaky’s release would threaten national security.

For me, lawlessness on the part of the Shi’ite group and the Buhari Presidency (and not the Army) is responsible for this unfortunate development – particularly as it has once again led to the needless killing of human beings. However, this is Nigeria where reports of people been killed no longer surprises anyone because since July 2009 when Boko Haram launched its deadly attacks, the lives of ordinary citizens is increasingly meaningless everyday. By mounting road blockades, the Shi’ite members were lawless in their approach and in the Nigerian Army, they met a superior force. See, it is necessary for the Nigerian State to always, within the ambit of the law, demonstrate that lawlessness and violence by individuals and/or groups is an aberration anywhere in the country.

Conversely, the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency is also lawless in that it had failed, on several occasions, to abide by court rulings granting bail to Ibraheem El-Zakzaky. Thus, these violent clashes (and more would still happen) between the Shi’ite members and the Nigerian Army are manifestations of gross lawlessness by the IMN and the Presidency. The truth is, and over the years, the IMN has demonstrated that it is an anti-government group while the Buhari Presidency is demonstrating that it does not respect nor obey court judgments. This is rather unfortunate because the Rule of Law is one of the main pillar of every true democratic society and obeying the law (in this instance, obeying society’s code of behavior and obeying judgments of competent courts), even when they clash with one’s interests, is not negotiable – tell Shi’ite (IMN) members and the Buhari Presidency.

© Chad Otsapa

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