Civic Media Lab | As We Watch The Shiites Get More Vicious…
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As We Watch The Shiites Get More Vicious…

As We Watch The Shiites Get More Vicious…

Yet again, Nigeria has experienced another violent protest from the now notorious Shiite group in Abuja. These protests have become a mainstay, especially in the nations’ capital ever since Mohammed El –Zakzaky, the Kaduna based leader of the Shiite movement in Nigeria was arrested in 2019. But how did we get here?

Rewind to December 12, 2015, soldiers attacked Hussainniya Baqiyyatullah mosque and religious center. The Human Rights Watch, says soldiers calmly took up positions around the defenseless building without provocation and began to empty the barrels of their guns on every appearance of the human form within the target site. An angry crowd formed and the hapless civilians’ set-up a martyrdom like road-block near the mosque to deter further shooting. The convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai arrived at that appropriate time and cleared the blockade with a slug storm. Not satisfied, the soldiers proceeded to the house of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and engaged another crowd of stones, sticks and knife-wielding beings trying to protect their leader and symbol from an unprovoked arrest. They held up for three days— till December 14.

After carrying off Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenatu, the Nigerian army paid a visit to the site of the Shia shrines and cemetery, ostensibly to check on the dead with more probing shots or to pay homage to Imam Husayn, the symbol of the Shia Islam belief, with some of the blood of his worshipers.

In December 2016, a year after his arrest, a High Court in Abuja ordered that Zakzaky and his wife be released from detention by the Department of State Service (DSS) and charged by the police within 45 days. That order was not obeyed until May 2018, when he was charged with Zeenatu and 2 others in a Kaduna State high court for culpable homicide and unlawful assembly. The couple has also been denied access to medical care according to their lawyers.

Zakzaky has tried in the past with a series of unauthorized protests to convince the country that it needs an Iran styled Islamic caliphate in Nigeria. He has so far refrained from terrorist attacks. But things have taken a bad turn in the last 43 months, in this period he has been arrested and despite a court ordering his release, he is still incarcerated.

Seeking closure from the trauma of two massacres in two years— 2014 and 2015, as well as the release of their leader, the Shia community,  have gone on demonstrations which have snowballed from peaceful protests to violent. The most recent, the invasion of the National Assembly and other parts of Abuja last week. In the last 4 years, scores of these people have been killed, this number includes 6 of El Zakzaky’s sons.

Nigeria seems to be breeding another set of insurgents, a la Boko Haram. With their backs against the wall, all this group needs is just access to weapons and they can fully launch their tirade against the Nigerian Government and its people. With ISWAP slowly making incursions into Nigeria and the proliferation of arms across the Sahara Desert finding its way into the country, it is looking like another keg of gunpowder that might signal the beginning of another terror on the Nigerian state.

The government still has not made it expressly clear, the reason it is holding the Islamic leader but with his continuous incarceration and the anger brewing among its followers, all that might be needed is support from a foreign terrorist body and we have another war on our hands. It is now imperative for the Nigerian government to clean up this huge mess before it consumes us all.

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