How scandalous for any sane person to label victims of these gross crimes against humanity as terrorists!
Last week Friday, it was reported that some handful of rented crowd under the aegis of Advocates of Social Justice for All (ASJA) besieged the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami to demand the immediate proscription of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and subsequent designation as a terrorist organization.
Certainly, the daft comes in various shades. Barely a week earlier, another shady group that called itself Coalition Of Civil Society Organizations For Transparency and Good Governance (COCSOTGG), called on the Presidency and the Attorney General of the Federation to act fast in designating the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, (IMN) a Terrorists group before it’s too late.
Of course, none of these deceitful sham groups or the hungry loafers rented for the purpose had any genuine basis upon which they made their calls, other than they were simply told to reel out old fairy tales thinking that people are gullible to accept line, hook and sinker any rubbish the vomit as evidence that the IMN is such a group.
Has anyone ever produced any evidence that the IMN is a terrorist group beyond empty wild allegations devoid of truths or proofs such as they are doing at the moment? How many persons have been proven in any court of law to have been killed or maimed by any member of the IMN ever? How many times has any member of the IMN ever been convicted of violent acts or conduct? Even after killing over a thousand of IMN members in cold blood, none of the members of the IMN lifted a finger in retaliation. Of all the photographs and video clips of IMN victims of state-sponsored terror trending across the world, there has not been a single one where any IMN member was spotted holding a weapon. What manner of terror group then is IMN that does not hold or use any weapon even in the face of extreme provocation? How can a terror group not cause death of any other person even as such group members are killed in thousands? The thoughtlessness on display by both ASJA and COCSOTGG is glaring and their inordinate quest for undeserved money has blunted their intellect. How can victims of state-sponsored terrorism be called the villains? People that suffered unspeakable acts (See below) by agents paid by the state without a single retaliation cannot certainly be so labelled except by the nutty.
Their pay masters have been fretting lately that all their attempts at masking the truth of their atrocious acts against the IMN have come to nought. The most objective organs in adjudication in the country have been turning favourable judgements in favour of IMN members lately. About a year ago, the Federal High Court in Abuja ruled that the detention of the leader of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife, Malama Zeenat is illegal, unconstitutional and a violation of their rights, and thus ordered their immediate release with monetary compensation for wrongful detention. The government of Muhammadu Buhari is still contemptuously holding the duo a year after that judgement. Again, about two weeks ago, a Kaduna High Court discharged and acquitted members of the IMN standing trials before it of all counts false charges against them after nearly two years of wrongful detention. Certainly, these types of resounding victories in the courts make the authorities to resort to irrationalities such as was displayed by these sham groups.
Another reason the government is quite uncomfortable is the increasing number of high profile and respected persons who come out to openly criticize the government for defying the courts and continuing to hold Sheikh Zakzaky in detention. Lately, Prof. Wole Soyinka added his voice to the call for the release of the Sheikh, describing his continuous detention as “illogical and unwise.” In the same vein, a profound critic of the present administration, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode aka FFK had described the continued detention of the Sheikh as “heartless and unacceptable.” Others who have lately been calling for the release of the Sheikh include Femi Falana (SAN), who wrote a passionate letter to the President on the subject matter. Even one of the President Buhari’s most trusted advisers and supporters, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Itse Sagay, a Professor and Senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) had said that continuing to detain Sheikh Zakzaky is violating the law. He therefore called the president to release him. Seasoned writers and columnists such as Aliyu Tilde and John Shiklam all had variously called for the release of the Sheikh. Since all the babbling by Mr. Lai Muhammed could not match these calls and the attorney General (AGF) could not frame up a charge despite two years of incarceration, the only option left for the government in the face of mounting pressure was to hire thugs to massage their battered ego.
The campaign by these phoney groups for the proscription of the Movement is also a diversionary tactics seeing that the IMN had successfully conducted its Ashura and Arbaeen activities despite the show of shame by various government agencies including killings, arrests, maiming and tear gassing to no avail. They think they can subdue us by threats of banning and mislabelling us as terrorist groups.
The government’s desperation even became direr as they tried unsuccessfully to use their Kangaroo panel to cover evidence of the extent of atrocities carried out in Zaria in December 2015 and subsequently in many other places, from Sokoto to Jos, Kano to Abuja as well as Katsina to Kaduna. They had hoped that IMN and Sheikh Zakzaky will testify in camera so as to cover as much as the evidence as possible of their atrocious attack on the IMN, which constitutes the actual terror acts.
A non-exhaustive acts witnessed during those attacks include:
- Mass extra judicial killings:
Overall, well over a thousand souls were killed by the Military between Saturday and Monday, 12 – 14 December, 2015. Hundreds have been killed also since then.
- Secret burials in mass graves:
Most victims get the mass burial treatment, which is done secretly to further conceal the actual numbers killed.
Witnesses reported that young girls were raped and shot, especially in Hussainiyyah and Darul Rahama. There were reports of other types of sexual assault. Many young girls had their veils forcibly removed. The Sisters forum of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria had addressed a press conference over this much earlier. Witnesses who are survivors abound.
- Genital mutilation with a view to prevent further reproduction of the group:
One of the worst crimes committed against the Islamic Movement was a pattern of deliberate attacks and mutilation of the reproductive areas of especially the women and girls. For instance, women shot were shot in the pelvic regions of the body. Others had their breasts cut off. The worst of all, the soldiers verbally abused them saying that even if they survived, they will not live to born more Shiites! Pregnant women had their bellies reaped open and the foetus killed. It was obvious that they wanted outright prevention of further reproduction within the group.
The military quite early in the attacks engaged in criminal, intentional and deliberate setting of buildings on fire. That was what was done to most buildings particularly the house of Sheikh Zakzaky and surrounding houses.
- Burning people alive:
This was what befell most people who were so injured to move away from fire as the military torched the buildings. Sheikh Zakzaky’s elder sister was picked and thrown into the fire while she was still alive. The same fate befell so many others. Beside the weak and injured, the rampaging soldiers also burnt corpses as well.
- Burying people alive:
Witnesses reported that some survivors were buried alive. This was particularly true of those shot in Darul Rahama. There was no certification of deaths before the hasty mass burial.
- Wanton destruction of properties:
This pogrom executed by the Nigerian military involved massive wanton destruction of properties belonging to the Islamic Movement. The destruction of property did not stop at only the places the killings and arson took place, it extended to other places where there was no incident at all, such as Sheikh Zakzaky’s Mother’s house and grave. In Darul Rahama, many graves were desecrated as well.
- Forced evictions:
So many members of the Islamic Movement especially those hitherto resident in Gyellesu were forcibly evicted from their houses.
- Wrongful detention:
Hundreds of other members of the Movement, including the injured, women and very young children were arrested and arbitrarily detained wrongly. Some few died in custody and many suffer from life-threatening illnesses but remain wrongfully detained without access to appropriate medical attention. Others are standing trial forcefully falsely accused of culpable homicide among other framed up charges. The trials are stalling as prosecutors proceed with the cases at a snail pace. Some others remain detained without charges for almost two years now.
Sheikh Zakzaky and the wife belong to the later category. When the Sheikh challenged his detention in Court and obtained a favourable judgement stating that his continued detention by the Department of State Security is illegal, unconstitutional and violates his fundamental rights, the government continues to detain him and the wife almost incommunicado in contempt of that court ruling.
- Enforced disappearances:
The Nigerian army abducted many members of the Islamic Movement, especially girls and young men and took them to unknown destinations. These are probably being held in several underground detention facilities across the country. The Islamic Movement had brought out a list of over 800 of its members still missing who might probably be alive somewhere.
By and large, these are by no means an exhaustive list of very serious unspeakable crimes against humanity committed by the Nigerian army in Zaria in December of 2015. Although Amnesty International talked about a scandalous mass attempt at cover-up, it is expected that the Panel will rise above parochial approach to meet expectations and dispense justice.