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Shiites’ Lives also Matter

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By Jude Ndukwe

So much has been said about the growing fractious relationship between the military and the civil society. Before now, our military especially the army, had been the bastion of discipline, restraint and civility. Growing up, a lot of us fantasized about how we would join the military, and shine before our civilian mates with our neat and well ironed uniforms, shiny boots and smart looks. We fantasized and boasted about how we would defend our nation and people against any external aggression from any quarters no matter how powerful. We boasted of how we would dare fires no matter how wild, jump into them to save trapped citizens. We even boasted of how “bloody civilians” would confront us and instead of retaliating, we just laugh them off because “they do not know what they are doing”. Our dream as future military officers was to serve the people and the nation and make ourselves the envy of many through our behaviours.

We never ever thought that a time would come in our lifetime when the military would turn its guns on civilians, fellow citizens, no matter the provocation. We also never thought of a time that the mutual hatred and mistrust between the military and the civilian populace would be so toxic that a civilian band would attack and kill a retired military General the way it happened to General Idris Alkali in Jos, Plateau State. But, alas, such a time, unfortunately, is now with us!

Last week, we witnessed the avoidable clashes between the army and members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN). I can confirm from my personal experience and interaction with the Shiites that IMN is never a violent group as some would want us to believe. And they are hardly discriminatory in their operations. I delivered a paper at the group’s 3rd International Quds Conference which held in Abuja on July 29, 2017. Apart from the fact that I am not only a Christian, I wish to emphasise that I am also a knighted Catholic.

There were also other Christians at the event. I am also aware that there are several other Christians who have become part and parcel of this annual conference. So, the narrative being created by some government officials about the Shiites as violent people full of hate for others is not only wrong but also misleading and mischievous. The truth is that unlike other Islamic denominations, the Shiites have no record of any act of willful violence against the nation nor can anyone tag them as terrorists, yet, they are an Islamic group some government officials love to hate, malign and calumniate.

In a government report following a public inquiry into the massacre of the Shiites in December 2015, it was said that 347 Shia Muslims were killed by men of the Nigerian Army and their corpses dumped in a mass grave in the northern city of Kaduna. The report also demanded that all those involved in the killings be arrested and prosecuted. But up till now, nothing has been heard about it. Those indicted are rather praised and become emboldened to continue the wanton killing of fellow citizens, they are trained to protect, even at little or no provocation.

This vicious cycle has continued unabated. Citizens have become endangered species in the hands of the military. The military has turned itself to a uniformed emperor that must not be questioned, that must not be criticized and not even complimented. Is this our dream military?

The other day, video of a lady military officer who led a group of other military officers to viciously assault a civilian simply for complimenting her for her beauty, went viral. That was the height of military bestiality and excess show of hate for the civilian populace, and this has increased over time as culprits are either covered up or allowed to go scot free by those who are supposed to punish such erring officers. To make matters worse, the army keeps needlessly engaging Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in exchanges over matters in which they are clearly in breach of common sense, law and civility.

The other day, a soldier attached to Operation Safe Haven, shot dead an unarmed security personnel and injured two others attached to Diamond Bank in Jos over an innocuous argument about a parking space. That was a citizen, probably someone’s father and husband, with other loved ones, who had life snuffed out of him just like that as if he did not matter or his life was of no importance.

These and many other gruesome examples show that the issue is not just about the Shiites and the label of recalcitrance imposed upon them by those who take joy in mowing them down hiding behind such labels, it is about the loss of discipline and professionalism in the Nigerian army.

Let us even assume without conceding that the Shiites were wrong the first time when they were said to have “blocked” a consignment of ammunition in transit, resulting in they being fatally shot, what about the one that happened in Abuja shortly afterwards? Was there another consignment being blocked?

I read what some military officer said that they would not allow the Shiites to breach the rights of other citizens, the question is this, when has it become the primary duty and responsibility of the military to guarantee the rights of citizens in peace time? What then is the function of the police and their different specialized arms trained to deal with such issues as it should be?

With the way it is now, the Shiites have become endangered species who must not exercise their rights as citizens, they must not assemble, they must not associate and they must not express themselves freely despite the fact that their leader, Sheikh El Zakzaky and his wife, have been in illegal detention and unlawful custody of government going to three years now. This surely is a recipe for continued breach of the peace. And it is not only the Shiites that have become endangered species in the hands of the military, we all have.

While military sources have given six as number of casualties at both incidents in Zuba and Abuja, the Shiites have since released names of the victims numbering 34. Viral videos of the two incidents in both Zuba and Abuja show fleeing Shiites being shot at; even after they had been dispersed, they were still pursued by gun wielding officers. Their offence was that they had stones and catapults as “weapons”, and the army would have none of it, yet, in this same country, former president Goodluck Jonathan had his convoy stoned by some mischievous and misguided youths in Bauchi and he gave a stern instruction to his security personnel not to open fire. He was rather ferried away amidst the hail of stones. That was the Commander-in-Chief.

So, in such situations, particularly the unwarranted killing of the Shiites in Abuja, the army has other options to neutralize the protesting Shiites, that is, if they must be involved. Or else, deploying anti-riot policemen to such a scene would have made more sense than directly engaging youths exercising their rights of assembly, movement and association over government flagrant disobedience to valid court orders granting their leader bail.

Just few days ago, on TV, the army spokesman, John agim, was quoted to have said that “Several times, those people were arrested and they were released without any sanction. We have a country where nobody is sanctioned for doing something wrong. Evans, the kingpin kidnapper, he came out confessing. Over one year now, what has happened?”

When you have a military with this mindset of meting out immediate punishment and inflicting death as punishment to offenders because it does not believe in the judiciary, then the nation is in deep trouble. When an army spokesperson thinks that self-confession is enough to conclude a criminal matter in a jiffy and declare an offender guilty by force and not by law, it becomes a monumental security challenge that requires an aggressive reorientation of our military high command to bring them at par with best civil practices all over the world in military/civilian relationship. It is such beliefs as that of Agim that have reduced our military once envied for its discipline and professionalism to that feared rather than respected by citizens.

However, there is hope.

The military just handed 13 people suspected to be responsible for the murder of General Idris Alkali to the police after a painstaking investigation, for further investigation and prosecution. Based on the worrying trend which is the crux of this piece, those suspects handed over to the police for prosecution would probably have been treated more differently, the military way! That they were handed over for the law to take its course rather than take the law into their own hands themselves is a way forward.

The Shiites are not just citizens, they are a religious group that is aggrieved, and genuinely so. Rather than treat them as a leprous part of the society that must be exorcised and excised by all means possible, they can actually be meaningfully engaged and all areas of differences resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, with respect for the rule of law as a guiding principle.

This way, the needless confrontations between citizens and security agencies are reduced to the barest minimum and the needless loss of lives arising from there is avoided. We cannot continue to cut short the lives of citizens in numbers the way we are currently doing.

Nigeria is not a jungle, and no person or group of persons should reduce it to such.

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COLUMNISTS

Saraki and the Tragedy of Victory

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By Jude Ndukwe

Since the National Assembly elections ended in Kwara on March 9, and the current Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, lost at the polls, those who have lived in mortal fear of one of Nigeria’s finest Senate Presidents ever in history, have not relented in their infantile attacks against a man, who against all odds, wrestled official tyranny to the ground and eventually became one through whom God has preserved what is now our fragile democracy from being turned into a full blown dictatorship.

They have unleashed all manner of media attacks against the one popularly called “Oloye” by his fans, using pliable men who are obviously satisfied with being slaves, even though they are and should be living as freeborn, as long as crumbs fall for them from their slave master’s table.

To prove that Saraki was nothing but only a victim of his own rightful ambition, those who are bitterly persecuting him today under one concocted anti-corruption guise or the other, are merely doing so because they could not stand the audacity of his ambition to be Senate President against the overbearing wishes of the “Bullion Van Hawker of Bourdillon” and his coconspirators in the seat of power.

O, they wailed, they wept, they convulsed in extreme anger and could not believe that Saraki, (who used to be) a member of their party, who also had the legitimate right to be SP, beat them to the game as a master and battle-hardened politician that he is.

From then on, they marked him for destruction but he conquered them all to their dismay. Every trap set against him was neutralised with his soft speaking nature and deft political moves. He navigated their mines expertly, handling the affairs of the National Assembly with so much class that no weapon fashioned against him in the last four years thereabout prospered.

Despite being distracted with spurious court cases, phantom corruption allegations, none of which could be proven in court till tomorrow, official harassment, intimidation and desecration extending to the national assembly as an institution just to weaken and humiliate him, Saraki still kept the senate together, and will be stepping down in great glory as the “Senate President no one could remove”.

No matter what anybody says, the fact remains that Saraki will be leaving the senate as Senate President on his own terms.

The ignominy which his traducers tried their best to rub him in did not work. He was one Senate President who walked through the valleys of the shadow of death and feared no evil, for, indeed, God was and is obviously still with him.

He was professional in his approach to duty that not even for once did he allow his persecution by the executive negatively affect his sense of patriotism in the discharge of his duties.

When passage of budgets has been delayed, it was because the executive either padded the budget with mind boggling figures or that the ministries and MDAs were nowhere to be found to defend their estimates. Because they have a leader who is either bereft of ideas of how the legislature works or he still sees himself as a military dictator who must not be subjected to another institution as president, they expect the national assembly to just pass the budget “as is”. Saraki frustrated their plans to turn the national assembly to just another appendage of the executive arm, or, into a mere rubber stamp.

The Senate under him have enacted laws and passed Bills that have far reaching positive effects on our polity.

Saraki might not have won his last election, he is a victor anyway. No man passes through what Saraki was subjected to by members of the executive, survives and still see himself as a loser!

Sadly, the real losers are those who won elections in Kwara at Saraki’s expense but lost their soul and beholden to tyranny in the process.

With the incessant killings, rise in terrorism, hardship, continued displacement of communities by criminal bands, extra judicial killings by security forces, perpetually rising inflation, job losses in millions, Nigeria becoming the poverty capital of the world etc, to the extent that even the wife of the president had to, in order to exonerate her husband from the mess our nation has become under Buhari, confess that it was no longer her husband that was in charge but about three others, these hack writers see nothing in any of the nation’s misfortunes to address but their headache is a Saraki they love to hate because he beat them to their own game and that of their masters to become the Senate President.

This is where victory is tragic, for those who celebrate the ephemeral triumph of gross incompetence, ineptitude and the embarrassment our nation has become since 2015, by chasing shadows and leaving substance behind just because, to them, the country may collapse as long as they keep getting peanuts for attacking Saraki, it is most unfortunate and the misfortunes of a degraded nation is their lot!

As for Saraki, he has fought the good fight of faith. Yes, faith, because faith demands that we must stand up to tyranny even if just to prick the conscience of the tyrant and constantly remind him and his foot soldiers that all faiths abhor the vindictive imprisonment of citizens for their political and or religious beliefs as we currently have today. He can go home with pride knowing full well that when our nation was at its lowest ebb, post civil war era, he stood up to be counted among the few who used their status and political office to engage tyranny and dictatorship in a head on collision and left the senate unscathed. He is, by all standards, a fulfilled man, a winner!

jrndukwe@yahoo.co.uk; @stjudendukwe

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COLUMNISTS

Spectrum: Tragedy of too many lives

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By Anikulapo Macmillan

Sometime, death comes like a puritanical to us when we hear the news of our beloved passage. It is painful to lose family in a bizarre. And it is a bad feeling when the shock of such an untimely death comes to us as misfortune. So, an English poet, Robert Frost, wrote vividly in his poetry: ‘’ and be one traveller/ long I stood/and looked down one as far as I could/ to where it bent in the undergrowth’’
It was an event of grief when the world mourned the ill-fated airplane victims in Ethiopia. I was perplexed about the lives of those victims. And it was later in the evening a friend dropped; what I called a parcel of sadden news on my Whatapp. When I saw what he wrote; I was devastated. It was like a joke not until I saw the news spreading like a fume on twitter. That one of our columnist cum essayist had gone too soon.
Indeed the tragic news was the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed six minute after take-off from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all aboard, who were 157 people and Prof. Pius Adesanmi was visited by death. It is saddened to the world that we don’t pay attention to death than to giving priorities to imperfectness because this particular Boeing 737 Max 8 has once crashed six month ago.
So, unfortunate, that we lost two Nigerians, we lost two Irokos; one as an academia and the other one as a diplomat. I met Prof Adesanmi at the AKE Art Book Festival in 2015. His intelligence was overwhelming. He spoke with too much tenacity. Since then I have been following his writing and wanting to read his collection of essays title: Naija no dey carry last.
Well, death has made March to become significant. It has made the month to become a symphony to T.S Eliot’s poem, the wasteland. That March is now the cruellest month, breeding death out of land like what happened in Christchurch, New Zealand when unknown gunman killed 50 Muslims in their mosques.
When I heard this particular news on Friday and I saw the footage, I thought, it was scripted like grand theft auto game. Hence, I didn’t believe at first; and later I began to see trending news on twitter. This shows that our world is molested by racial people. Those who believe that killing is the best way to live a good life are mistakenly wrong. They have forgotten that it is not humanity.
However, let me say, that any kind of incessant killings like this or the one that happens in Kaduna over the weekend needs to be addressed not only by the government but by the whole world.
It is pertinent; that by now, the perpetrators of the New Zealand massacre have not been arrested. Are we saying no CCTV cameras in those mosques? Are they not human beings or do they come with a mask? Thank God for the Nigerian Iman, Lateef Alabi who made us to believe that the news was indeed truth.
Therefore, it is probably a theory of ignorance, when the police by now can’t identify the culprits. Yet, the world is still not finding ways to stop all kind of carnage; that is also an albatross to security policies. Well, this is not the fight of New Zealand alone because those who were killed have families. And the trauma could cause fratricidal or matricidal.
Maybe what an Italian philosopher, Antonio Gramsci said: ‘’ to tell the truth is revolutionary’’ which means, the United Nation needs to watch out for killings like this. It is awful. That people life does not mean anything anymore.
Well, in this same part of the world, it is still disparagingly wrong, that after our general election, what we should have next is what I called: blood relative in my poetry. Kaduna has become a death trap in our society. It has become a place where we mourn of envy and religion catastrophe.
Death even came like tidal wave with a tremulous wailing from residents and onlookers when a building collapsed in, Ita Faji area of Lagos Island. School pupils are mostly victims of the collapsed building. While some die, and few that survived where at the state hospital. Hence, it is so painstaking that the Lagos government and the ministry of housing are ignorantly not performing their functions. This was horrific event as many dead bodies were recovered.
So, the federal government needs to understand that causalities like this are not expected to happen in a society like Lagos. However, those pupils now have trauma of such a malign that bestow them. And the Lagos state government responsibility is to start a policy on building because the lives of those who reside in those buildings are part of the electorate.
In this vein, such a death replenished the atmosphere in the eastern Zimbabwe, killing at least 24 people. When I saw this news, I began to wonder why these tragedies come in March. Is it that the affected nations do not control their societal values? Meanwhile, the case of cyclone, In Zimbabwe and Mozambique, is that the two countries have not properly fund their weather science appropriately.
Perhaps, death that comes in March is a tragedy to humanity. It is also a worry to country like ours that we don’t know how to control our citizens and their heritage. Because I know, if our airlines are good enough, Prof. Adesanmi would have flown ours or if our country is good enough, Iman. Lateef Alabi would have stayed back than to face the gossamer of death in New Zealand.
We need to bring the country we want together and to make conversation because it is paramount to have a good system than to have death toil every month when citizens die like prey. Apparently, I think it is time we needed to provide security for our individualism— not to witness scourge.
A nation that refuses to understand the people’s welfare is already in precipice and it is a disgrace for Nigeria to fail even though her politicians are into the epiphany of misconception and all sort of imperial modulation. Still like theme of Jack London’s short story, ‘’to build a fire’’. We need not to build a fire but we need to build a monument for our country.

Continue Reading

COLUMNISTS

Spectrum: Tragedy of too many lives

Published

on

 

Anikulapo Macmillan

Sometime, death comes like a puritanical to us when we hear the news of our beloved passage. It is painful to lose family in a bizarre. And it is a bad feeling when the shock of such an untimely death comes to us as misfortune.  So, an English poet, Robert Frost, wrote vividly in his poetry: ‘’ and be one traveller/ long I stood/and looked down one as far as I could/ to where it bent in the undergrowth’’

It was an event of grief when the world mourned the ill-fated airplane victims in Ethiopia. I was perplexed about the lives of those victims. And it was later in the evening a friend dropped; what I called a parcel of sadden news on my Whatapp. When I saw what he wrote; I was devastated. It was like a joke not until I saw the news spreading like a fume on twitter. That one of our columnist cum essayist had gone too soon.

Indeed the tragic news was the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed six minute after take-off from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all aboard, who were 157 people and Prof. Pius Adesanmi was visited by death. It is saddened to the world that we don’t pay attention to death than to giving priorities to imperfectness because this particular Boeing 737 Max 8 has once crashed six month ago.

So, unfortunate, that we lost two Nigerians, we lost two Irokos; one as an academia and the other one as a diplomat. I met Prof Adesanmi at the AKE Art Book Festival in 2015. His intelligence was overwhelming. He spoke with too much tenacity. Since then I have been following his writing and wanting to read his collection of essays title: Naija no dey carry last.

Well, death has made March to become significant. It has made the month to become a symphony to T.S Eliot’s poem, the wasteland. That March is now the cruellest month, breeding death out of land like what happened in Christchurch, New Zealand when unknown gunman killed 50 Muslims in their mosques.

When I heard this particular news on Friday and I saw the footage, I thought, it was scripted like grand theft auto game. Hence, I didn’t believe at first; and later I began to see trending news on twitter. This shows that our world is molested by racial people. Those who believe that killing is the best way to live a good life are mistakenly wrong. They have forgotten that it is not humanity.

However, let me say, that any kind of incessant killings like this or the one that happens in Kaduna over the weekend needs to be addressed not only by the government but by the whole world.

It is pertinent; that by now, the perpetrators of the New Zealand massacre have not been arrested. Are we saying no CCTV cameras in those mosques?  Are they not human beings or do they come with a mask?  Thank God for the Nigerian Iman, Lateef Alabi who made us to believe that the news was indeed truth.

Therefore, it is probably a theory of ignorance, when the police by now can’t identify the culprits. Yet, the world is still not finding ways to stop all kind of carnage; that is also an albatross to security policies. Well, this is not the fight of New Zealand alone because those who were killed have families. And the trauma could cause fratricidal or matricidal.

Maybe what an Italian philosopher, Antonio Gramsci said: ‘’ to tell the truth is revolutionary’’ which means, the United Nation needs to watch out for killings like this. It is awful. That people life does not mean anything anymore.

Well, in this same part of the world, it is still disparagingly wrong, that after our general election, what we should have next is what I called: blood relative in my poetry. Kaduna has become a death trap in our society. It has become a place where we mourn of envy and religion catastrophe.

Death even came like tidal wave with a tremulous wailing from residents and onlookers when a building collapsed in, Ita Faji area of Lagos Island. School pupils are mostly victims of the collapsed building. While some die, and few that survived where at the state hospital. Hence, it is so painstaking that the Lagos government and the ministry of housing are ignorantly not performing their functions. This was horrific event as many dead bodies were recovered.

So, the federal government needs to understand that causalities like this are not expected to happen in a society like Lagos. However, those pupils now have trauma of such a malign that bestow them. And the Lagos state government responsibility is to start a policy on building because the lives of those who reside in those buildings are part of the electorate.

In this vein, such a death replenished the atmosphere in the eastern Zimbabwe, killing at least 24 people. When I saw this news, I began to wonder why these tragedies come in March. Is it that the affected nations do not control their societal values? Meanwhile, the case of cyclone, In Zimbabwe and Mozambique, is that the two countries have not properly fund their weather science appropriately.

Perhaps, death that comes in March is a tragedy to humanity. It is also a worry to country like ours that we don’t know how to control our citizens and their heritage. Because I know, if our airlines are good enough, Prof. Adesanmi would have flown ours or if our country is good enough, Iman. Lateef Alabi would have stayed back than to face the gossamer of death in New Zealand.

We need to bring the country we want together and to make conversation because it is paramount to have a good system than to have death toil every month when citizens die like prey. Apparently, I think it is time we needed to provide security for our individualism— not to witness scourge.

A nation that refuses to understand the people’s welfare is already in precipice and it is a disgrace for Nigeria to fail even though her politicians are into the epiphany of misconception and all sort of imperial modulation. Still like theme of Jack London’s short story, ‘’to build a fire’’. We need not to build a fire but we need to build a monument for our country.

 

@Babatunde_Mac

+2348076926109 or +2348090917041

 

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