On Saturday, October 27, 2018, the Nigerian Army and the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), popularly known as the Shi’ites sect clashed in Zuba, an outskirt town of the nation’s Federal Capital Territory. This deadly encounter between the Army and the seeming unarmed protesters captured on camera it was too gory to take a second look at it. Using live bullets, the Army reportedly killed three members of the sect, injuring others.
Less than 48 hours after that incidence the Army again was said to have engaged the Shi’ites who were reportedly embarking on a peaceful protest in Karu, a suburb of the FCT, killing sixteen of them. Like the Saturday attack, the video for this latest attack has found its way to the media and is more distressing than the previous one. The Army also has sustained its propaganda machine by accusing the Shi’ites of attacking its officers.
As an individual, I will once again use this medium to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to step into this issue and save Nigeria from collapse. The Shi’ites have existed before this administration and before democracy and there has never been a time they became a source of national concern as we are currently experiencing under this administration. The continuous detention of Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, leader of the sect is highly unnecessary as he has been granted bail by several courts in the country but the Federal Government has refused to set him free. An action which is a relic of the dark days of the military. Zakzaky’s continued detention may lead his followers into radicalism and Nigeria will be the loser here.
Before terrorist group, Boko Haram became a national and global menace, they were a set of ragtag misdirected youth. But the extrajudicial killing of Muhammed Yusuf, the sect’s leader in 2009 by the Nigeria Police Force changed everything. Nigeria is still paying for that needless and costly error till date. The federal government must realise quickly that bullets will not overcome the Shi’ites ideology. These individuals are not afraid of death, they believe they die as martyrs and not as victims of mass murder, which is very dangerous to our national security.
Less than few months to the 2019 elections and we are witnessing these mindless killings of unarmed civilians by the Nigerian Army? We know the president has an election to win, but not at the expense of these many lives.