A write-up, "Zaria massacre is an act of state terrorism" by one Abdulmumin Giwa recently surfaced apparently with the sole intent of reigniting a faceoff in which the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) came away bruised in its ill advised confrontation with the state.
Giwa's treatise was the kind that got published simply because anyone can exploit the freedom offered by the cyberspace while media organizations that carried it must have done so out of compulsion to satisfy the requirement of catering to all shades of ideas. But even in this, they should have gotten the author to tone down on the desperation with which he attempted to befuddle issues. Most of what he posited were insults to Nigerians, citizens of a secular state, whom the author attempted to stain with his bigotry.
It is important that the wrong premises so advanced are corrected or else we all stand the risk of such libel passing into records to be dredged up in no distant future as account of history, which would then be tedious to disprove simply because an interval has been allowed without the false account being challenged. Being that the most part of the article was rambling, attention would be paid mostly to those points that glaringly attempted to stand logic on its head.
Giwa is pained that the state clamped down on terrorism, the IMN brand of it, before it got to its most feral and ferocious stage. This for him is what he described as the irony and the basis for accusing the Nigerian state of sponsoring terrorism. His proof was the incident of 12th-15th December of 2015, which to him was a massacre because he never considered that it could also be termed "suicide by going to war". If his people acknowledged that the Army was better trained and equipped why did they make an attempt on the life of its leadership knowing that the logical response would be first self defence and the removal of the threat.
There is no crystal ball that shows with certainty what the alternate option would have resulted in, but given the reign of terror that Gyallesu axis of Zaria, Kaduna state suffered in the hands of IMN extremists, the people trying to cast themselves as victims would have turned Nigeria into Africa's Syria by now. If being proactive in containing an emerging terror group makes Nigeria a terror state as alleged then all countries that have acted to protect their nationals from terrorists would fall in this category. The list would include France, which has neutralized every single terrorist that carried out attacks on its citizens in the past decade. It would include USA that crosses seas and oceans to launch attacks in foreign countries in pursuit of its geo-strategic anti-terror objectives. Russia would make the list for responding to incidents in the Chechen region while proactively suppressing the Islamic State from growing as fast as it wants to. The United Kingdom would not be exempt having learnt the lesson to liquidate terror attackers on site and save itself the hassle of managing the fallouts of political correctness.
Alleging that the response to the IMN provocation was planned belies the mood and mode of the nation as at the time of the incident. This was the peak of when the country was just reining in the Boko Haram terror group. Had "the Nigerian government, Army, Kaduna state government, some traditional rulers, leading Islamic scholars and some media outlets" reacted differently to the existential threat posed by IMN at that instance it would have amounted to the height of irresponsibility. It would have implied that no lesson was learnt from the mistake of the past leadership in allowing Boko Haram to fester before steps were being taken to curtail its menace. Similar to how the experience in managing polio virus was rapidly deployed to containing the Ebola Virus disease thereby saving thousands of lives. The infrastructure for containing Boko Haram was promptly and decisively deployed to stop a new terror group from growing.
Accusing the Nigerian state of acting proxy for "the Americans, Israelis and Saudis to meet their mischievous political goals" is nothing short of playing the mind game of reverse psychology. On the flip side, it is an admission of IMN being an Iranian proxy in a bid to open a new theatre of war away from the Middle East where its influenced dipped post Arab Spring. Assuming these countries were covertly pulling the strings that is moving the Nigerian state, Giwa conveniently omitted to mention that Saeed Koozechi as Iranian ambassador to Nigeria was not only directing IMN activities but was strutting around dishing instructions to the country like the Iran-appointed colonial governor for Nigeria.
The writer's catchment actions for what defines a terror organization would have been laughter inducing but for the severity of the matter under discussion. Poverty does not preclude a person from committing acts of terror – Boko Haram began as an assemblage of urchins with cudgels, bows and arrows before moving on to Dane guns and then escalating to the monsters with RPG and anti-aircraft guns. Running schools, hospitals and libraries is no guarantee since the Islamic State (Daesh) has schools for radicalizing children and youths while their hospital treat their war wounded and handles their organs trade. Alqaeda, Islamic State or even Boko Haram have their civilian wings, which front themselves in places that the fighters cannot show their faces. That IMN's civilian wing was more dominant at that material time did not lessen the risk it posed to the rest of us.
To therefore hide behind the civilian of IMN to market it as the saviour of the West African sub-region or Africa's most populous nation is not only mischievous but also disingenuous. If its leader, Mr Ibraheem alZakyzaky succeeded with "the emancipation of the West African block and the continent at large" what would have been the cost? An imposition of Sharia rule like he once espoused?
Did al Zakzaky advocate this in his emancipation movement from a purely civilian enclave as argued by Giwa? His Gyallesu enclave reportely yielded weapons that could have brought down half of the country if his followers, IMN members, were not curtailed by the army. This is the same group that has video of its militant wings training in military combat. Civil policing wouldn't have been able to do much about containing the IMN excesses and army might have suffered untold hardship had it treated the threat they posed with levity. Their capacity for waging war on several fronts – combat, intellectual and propaganda – is evident in Giwa's claim that "the soldiers who acted like zombies came in chanting war songs against a constitutionally accepted religion. They destroyed Islamic literature including the holy Qur’an which they marched on and molested". He made this claim knowing fully well that issues of desecration of the Holy Book provokes violent reactions. Again, he ignored the fact that troops are of mixed faiths and devout Muslims among them, including commanders, would not for anything allow any religion to be desecrated.
Giwa was able to recount what he possibly expect to be graphic accounts of how IMN members were massacred, only that he got it wrong. First, he alleged that the army and state have destroyed evidence and are not allowing IMN members to give their own account of what transpired, yet he was able to give his own so framed gory narrative. Secondly, he apparently somehow got part of his narrative from some Hollywood blockbuster peppered with narratives from agitated IMN members. Thirdly, where was Giwa and his brethrens when the Kaduna State Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Zaria Crisis publicly heard testimonies? They stayed away claiming bias against them when the reality was that they knew any lie told before the panel would be easily torn to shreds because of the panel's public sitting.
IMN's partners in crime, Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Islamic Human Rights Commission of London (IHRC), are organizations that have meticulously tried to conceal their relationship with the terror group. They had consigned themselves to running the propaganda and issuing reports to make the Nigerian state look bad while the extremists as their militant wing gain traction in the march to derail the country. Several groups that had made this connection were poopooed as advancing conspiracy theory. Giwa's write-up has however finally helped drawn that conclusion since it could not help exposing its true intent in the closing two paragraph, which is to come to the defence of Amnesty International that several groups have asked to leave Nigeria.
In yet another case of reverse psychology, IMN through Giwa alleged that the state and the army are behind the spontaneous protests demanding that Amnesty International leaves Nigeria. This is as ridiculous as saying the Arab Spring protests were incited and not the product of citizens' response to conditions they found oppressive.
The least IMN can do given the glaring reality on ground is to mull its status as a proscribed entity, a process that was properly gazetted in accordance with the law. It should similarly acknowledge that its foreign arm typified by Amnesty International and others have been burnt because Nigerians are now awake to the mischievous intent to burn Nigeria and they have been handed the notice to quit. Resurfacing the December 2015 incident that has been laid to rest by a properly constituted inquiry is a sheer waste of time.
Okanga writes from Agila, Benue State.