The last assault in Abuja against the Shi’ites was avoidable. If we had a quality leadership in place we could have had a win-win situation.
I hate bloodbath, I find it difficult to eat life animals killed in my presence. One can then imagine how repulsive the sight of fellow human being could be for me especially when the cause stems from reckless application of man’s inhumanity to fellow being. This attitude is not a product of personal efforts to feel nice or attempt at righteous indignation. No, it is an act that flows from the knowledge that all lives are sacred and should not be terminated illegally under any guise. It should be more worrisome and very repulsive as earlier observed when the flow of blood is as a result of wicked and reckless actions of fellow men.
READ ALSO: The bloodbath in Plateau
Today’s discourse is on the Shi’ites of Nigeria. They have been badly treated by the rest of us, it has gotten to a point some of us are not sure if those people are human and if they are human, whether they are bonafide citizens of this country called Nigeria. I am a Nigerian and I am saying so because I know no country of reasonable people and sensible leadership would ever contemplate, let alone visiting such calamity on her own citizens. It is a classical case of aberration. Two weeks ago members of this Islamic sect embarked on a protest rally in Abuja, and from the look of things it was a normal rally with children, women, young and old and men. Everything looked normal until the law enforcement agencies including the army decided to accost them in the most uncivilized and unconstitutional manner and by the time this unfortunate incident ended scores of casualties had been recorded and about 95 per cent of them on the side of the Shi’ites.
None of the parties to this development disputed that citizens died, the disagreement was only on figure. The army whose unprofessional handling of what was purely a civil matter led to the altercation and the subsequent killings that became part of the ugly show had the effrontery to come public, to say that only three persons died. What if it were one person? Would it be correct to say because it was one person, then no serious issue happened? Whether one, two or three, the killing of any citizen is abhorrent. From what I know we don’t like it but it is happening because some people gain undue advantage from disorder, chaos and general deviant behaviour. When the state is responsible, it is done with the objective to instill fear so as to sustain a fading regime and a decadent order full of injustice.
The last assault in Abuja against the Shi’ites was avoidable. If we had a quality leadership in place and that has always been the problem, we could have had a win-win situation. The Shi’ites who have the constitutionally guaranteed right to hold belief and to protest against what they do not like, would have had their way and the country her peace. All a perceptive law enforcement agency, particularly the police, would have done would have been to provide them security to the point the protesters want to go, wait around for them to pass their message and monitor their dispersal and flow from there. I learnt the police were there and offering those services. The question would then be at what point did things go wrong? We have been told it was when the army came into the picture. This raises another vital question: why must the army, the last line of a nation’s defense, trained to kill be deployed to what are usually very civil matters as in the case in question?
I am still wondering what is in our mentality, both as leaders and the led that make us sanction the pointing of gun and pulling the trigger at unarmed citizens? What right has our soldiers or any security agent for that matter to aim and shoot at an unarmed citizen? What type of training do we give our soldiers and other security agents that make them have a delight in the brutalization and killing of citizens at the slightest act of engagement and disagreement? Why is it that every time the Shi’ites make a move, the first line of action of the state is to let loose the military, and like we know the Abuja debacle is not the first our country is doing this to them. I have done a piece on the first encounter and I am returning to it today because of what is happening, giving death to citizens just because they have chosen a line of belief.
In that first stanza of this wild and bizarre drama, the current Chief of Army Staff chose to pass through an area dominated by the sect at a time they were having their road procession. Before then we had accused the sect of being highly temperamental, if our country were to be one with high quality leadership, enough intelligence report would have been available to give an officer of state of the rank of Chief of Army Staff options. He ought to have known if the best interest of the people and the country would have been best served by the Army Chief taking that route. If he had given a little consideration, what later amounted to a huge calamity would have been averted. But he chose to go ahead because in our usual mentality, the army is the purveyor-in-chief of violence, so they can dare anybody or institution and that was exactly what they did and by the time it ended over 300 Nigerians had lost their lives in the most despicable manner and given mass burial in an unmarked grave.
If this was abominable, I don’t know what we have branded the initial denials of the killings by the army, state and federal governments. Today governor el-Rufai of Kaduna State brands himself a democrat but I am still wondering how a democrat would justify military invasion of civilian settlement and killings on the excuse that disposition provokes fear. The Shi’ites issue has been long with us and it is growing from bad to worse. The bad thing here is that we are keeping quiet; most citizens have grown to become experts in selective outbursts. We talk when developments threaten our biases. I learnt highly placed Muslims are not talking because the root of the Shi’ites is not correct. I just hope our passive conspiracy would not turn round to consume all of us. I just hope so.