Introduction of Shiite
Always dressed in black garments all through, from their head down to toe, both men and women, children and adult, are the Shi’ite group.
Worldwide, the Shi’ite group is identified with the black garment which signifies that they are mourning the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, (Peace Be upon Him), Hussein.
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria, also known as the Shi’ite group, had their origin from Iran where it has 90 or 99 per cent majority and has its strong hold while it is in Minority in Africa to the Sunni’s which comprises of so many other muslim organisation.
Back in Nigeria, the Shi’ite started some 37 years ago and in Zaria when Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his Second in Command, Muhammad Turi, joined as a graduate of the famous Ahmadu Bello University, ABU.
Its “almost unknown” in Nigeria until when El-Zakzaky introduced it. The sect became known especially as it gained large followers among those disenchanted with the political and religious establishments in Nigeria.
The El-Zakzaky led Islamic Movement of Nigeria, otherwise known as Shi’ite, was promoting an ideology different from the Sunni’s.
And the point of difference is who succeeds Prophet Muhammad between Hussein and Ali and that which the Quran has already settled in the fact that nobody can succeed the Prophet as He is the last.
Unlike other Islamic sects, Shi’ite always has one reason or the other for mobile processions involving thousands of its members, including women and children, by usually trekking from one city to the other.
Such activities of the group include, embarking on a trek to Zaria which is symbolic to trekking to Hussainiyyah Baqiyyatullah to recall the trial and tribulations faced by the household of the Holy Prophet who were chained and dragged barefoot in the scorching desert from Karbala in Iraq to Damascus in Syria after the brutal killing of Imam Hussain and his family by the forces of despotic Yazid in the plain of Karbala, 61 years after Hijra and also a yearly AlQuds Day procession.
These activities have posed unnecessary hardship on residents of Zaria, the strong hood of the group and where the sect leader resides and all their activities take place.
Similarly, on regular travelers along Kaduna-Zaria Road and Kano-Zaria Road as they are being forced to ply on one way, at least twice annually. Even though, the group had always claimed seeking permission of the security agencies before embarking on such foot journey on public roads, the fact remains that their processions are never guided by either men of the Nigerian Police Force or Federal Road Safety Commission.
Residents of Kaduna, Zaria, Kano and other Northern Nigerian cities have been at the mercy of the members of Shi’ite group anytime they decide to embark on procession as they have stories to tell about the activities and the unnecessary hardship caused by activities of the group.
It was gathered that while these activities are taking place, the Shi’ite security personnel mount road blocks and subject any motorists or cyclists attempting to pass through to thorough check and in some cases, they block such roads totally, thereby subjecting the people to untold hardship such as traffic jam, having to turn around long distance when there is a short route to their destination.
And as it is that Nigerians absorb things easily, they adapted to the lifestyle and are always at the mercy of the group, but fortunately, security agents don’t condone such act which infringes on other road users and passerby rights.
Before the last two clashes with the Military, the group had been having clashes with some muslim organisation which they differ in doctrine and practice of Islam and those they considered inferior to them.
Sometimes in July 2014, it happened that the Shiites clashed with soldiers in Zaria, which was as a result of road block while the Shiite were on a procession to celebrate Quds day, as well as demonstrating against military operations in Gaza by the Israeli forces.
The clash soon turned bloody as it left about 35 persons dead, including three sons of Sheik El-Zakzaky.
After the last year’s incident, Prominent Islamic Scholar in the North, Sheik Ahmad Mahmud Gumi, in an open letter to El-Zakzaky, toldhim that, he was leading millions of youths astray and that, Allah will not forgive him if he (Zakzaky) dies without repenting.
According to the letter titled, ‘My Brother Ibraheem El-Zakzaky: it’s not too late to repent’, Gumi said, “After registering my condolences
to the recent loss of your three children who were gunned down by some elements in the military, I find it an obligation to help you see that some of your actions too are the contributing factors in this unfortunate avoidable tragedy.
“What I fear most for you and your followers is that the consequence of this tragedy may further alienate your group from the mainstream society and create a cult -if it’s not already one – with disastrous consequences on you, your followers and the nation at large. For you especially, on the Day of Judgment you will have your account to answer.
“My brother, you have brought a lot of bad innovations among Nigerian Muslims that rather than unite the Muslims are further entrenching the divide without any added value to the worldly development nor the hereafter, but rather with serious theological implications in the hereafter.
“What triggered my attention to your group now, is the most recent close encounter I made with a procession of your followers on thehighway from Kano to Zaria yesterday, 8th December, 2014, on my way to Dutse, about four to six thousand youths and children trekking long distance for hours. I gave a two hour lecture in Duste and met them still trekking on my way back.
“I cannot understand under which civil or religious law you have the right and liberty to block one side of the double carriage roadforcing motorists to cramp each other dangerously on one lane. If your actions are to propagate your creed, I am telling you, you will only attract the poor young ignorant miscreants of the society. Never the sane, except of course the disgruntled.
“The delinquency of your followers and the disturbance of public peace is what makes you and them an easy target of the authority. This happening when you can as well do very well without such unscrupulous public misbehavior. Disruption of traffic flow is in fact a sign of unfaithfulness and lack of civilization.
“This is the good example you should copy. But unfortunately, instead of that, you are doing exactly the opposite by blocking roads and forcing vehicles to dangerously face each other on one lane, displaying arrogance and lawlessness, as well as young men brandishing knives and unsheathed swords, beating their chest, carrying inciting placards and chanting hate songs.
“How can you be the good servants of Allah when you call other human beings beside him? We saw your placards calling: Ya Hussein. Hussein the Son of Ali – May Allah be pleased with them and all the companions- is dead. He can never answer your call and he will never.
He will also deny you on the Day of Judgment for calling him. The best you can do for any dead person is to pray for Allah’s mercy upon him.
Allah said: “My Brother, you have already lost three children on this path to perdition and shirk, so please repent and don’t capitalise on the ignorance of our gullible youths to mislead them. If you don’t correct them now, when you die, Allah will not forgive you for whatever deviation, they may add to yours.
“My Brother, I write you this open letter for others also not necessarily in your sect to get admonition. It is never intended to trigger a sectarian argument. It’s about public order and mannerism.
May Allah guide us all to his pleasure and give us the courage to revert back to the truth and what is righteous, Amin”, Sheik Gumi’s letter read.
Meanwhile, Zakzaky in a swift reaction through the Head of Media Forum of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (Shi’ite), Ibrahim Usman (spokesman killed in the last clash) said, Gumi’s letter was written with insidious intent to pave way for a greater onslaught on him (Zakzaky) and members of Islamic Movement.
Sheikh Zakzaky said, “Dr. Gumi has lost credibility among the Muslim fold, as he constantly sells Israel above the Muslims Ummah, describing Jews as the most religious and intelligent race over the Muslims. Because of this lost credibility, he envies the ever-creasing flow of Shi’ites and Shi’a awareness in Nigeria, while at the same time trying to establish his Wahabbi and Takfir brand of Islam in Nigeria.”
According to Zakzaky, “I am not surprised with the content of an open letter written by Dr. Gumi at this particular time (forget the sinister “My Brother” tone and the crocodile tears of condolence). The choice of the time to write the letter gave Dr. Gumi away; he was all out to attack me and the Arba’een symbolic trek currently taking place across the country. I am used to his constant attacks on me and Shi’a.
“This is not the first time Dr. Gumi is complaining that members of the Islamic Movement led by Sheikh Zakzaky are blocking public roads in the name of procession.
In 2009, Gumi registered the same complaint during his Tafsir in Sultan Bello Mosque. He went ahead dangerously to call on the government to shoot those he called ‘Shi’ites’ blocking public roads.
“According to Dr. Gumi, Allah has given the government the “license to shoot them”. And the government heeded to the call. A week after, combined armed security operatives shot two people during the Quds Day procession in Zaria.
The series of machinations by the government against the Islamic Movement in Nigeria had always been with the tacit support of Dr. Gumi and his adherents.
“We believe that the letter was written with insidious intent to pave way for a greater onslaught on the Islamic Movement and Sheikh Zakzaky. It was also meant to incite Muslims against those he referred to as “Shi’tes”. The world arrogant powers, U.S. and Israel, are now all out to assassinate Sheikh Zakzaky and unleash terrorist attacks on all public gatherings of the Movement, especially the Arba’een symbolic trek.
“This is exactly what Dr. Gumi is doing through the letter. He is doing their dirty work. For Dr. Gumi who has lost credibility even among his circle to claim that, the Shi’ites are chanting “hate songs”, is the pot calling the kettle black.
In most of his Talk Shows that he calls Tafsir, he spends substantial part of his time unleashing venoms on Shi’a and Sheikh Zakzaky, while his uninformed and unruly listeners pollutes the air with war cry.
“For the information of Dr. Gumi, the Shi’ites are embarking on a mass trek to Zaria, as a symbolic gesture to the one in Karbala, Iraq, to commemorate the fortieth day after the martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS).
The trek is to recall the trials and tribulations faced by the Household of the Holy Prophet, chained and dragged in the scorching desert from Karbala in Iraq, to Damascus in Syria, after the brutal killing of Imam Husain by the army of despotic Yazid.
“This is our faith, our creed; it is our legs and bodies we use for the trek. Why is Dr. Gumi so much worried like the CIA and MOSSAD? I have not even for once heard Dr. Gumi complaining of road blockade during political rallies and other mob activities, but activities of the Shi’ites worried Dr. Gumi so much that he billows.
“He questioned our rights to embark on a procession or trek, we have every right as citizens to demonstrate for or against, propagate and practice our creed. Let Dr. Gumi rejoice over the killing of Husain, grandson of the Holy Prophet, son of Fatimah and Ali, as he always does. As we mourn and beat our chests, we say: “O self, you are worthless after Hussein. My life and death are one and the same, so be it if they call me insane! As for the trek, which he detests so much, we proclaim as we march forward: If they sever our legs and hands, We shall crawl to the Husain!,” said El-Zakzaky.
As if that was not enough or it has not learnt its lessons, the shiite’s carried on with it activities until their recent clash with the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai’s convoy. The COAS was to attend the Passing Out ceremony of 73 Regular recruit at the Nigeria Military school, Zaria, when the Shiite group attempt to barricade the Army Chief’s convoy from passing through and a situation which resulted in the killings of some violent members of the group.
The Army Spokesperson, Colonel SK Usman, claimed the incidence was an attempt to assassinate the COAS in which he escaped.
When contacted on phone, leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria otherwise known as Shi’ite, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, said his members never attempted to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff.
He said his members were out to hoist their flags when they were attacked.
According to him, “it was a lie that we attempted to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff. We never attacked them but they attacked us. My members were only hoisting our flags at the Hussaniya area because every year and on this day we usually host our flags. So my members were hoisting the flags when the incident happened. In fact, it was exactly 5pm that we were about to hoist the flags that the soldiers stopped my men from doing so.
“If it was an assassination attempt, there should be injuries recorded among the soldiers but in this case, no soldier was injured but I lost my members,” he said.
Meanwhile, a recent statement, by the President of the Media Forum of the Movement, Ibrahim Musa, opened up on why the protesting youth were angry and they block the road saying “The protesting youths were angry because the Nigerian Army killed their friends & brothers. They killed them as if they were flies.” Even though, the Shiite group claimed indiscriminate killings of it members, the merciless killings of Shi’ite members by the soldiers is also not justifiable, residents of Zaria in particular see it as a relief from the ‘many harassment’ of the group. This was confirmed by a video of residents’ jubilation shown to the media by the military in Kaduna.
Relationship with host community (Zaria)
That the people, the Zaria community, were seen jubilating after Sheikh Zakzaky was apprehended and except few who are said to be his followers or who have sympathy for him, is enough reason that signals a sour relationship between him and the immediate community.
The people therefore have called on the federal government to urgently ban the Sheikh
Ibraheem El-Zakzaky’s led Shi’ite movement in their communities because of the untold hardship the group has unleashed on them for over 20 years.
Leader of the affected Zaria communities, Idris Mohammed Baba, who addressed a press conference to that effect, said the Shi’ite held people in Zaria and Sabon Gari local government areas of the state hostage with impunity and running a parallel government in the country.
The communities also said that the Shi’ite had in May 2015 declared 24 youths persona non grata for challenging their activities in Gyellesu
community where El-Zakzaky resides.
Narrating their ordeals in the hands of Shi’ite followers for over 20 years in Zaria, Baba said: “My experience with Shi’ite followers is
disastrous and terrible. At a point, Shi’ite boys threatened to kill me. There is one notorious Shi’ite boy called Ali, he is the leader of El-Zakzaky’s notorious boys who accompany him anywhere he goes. We are happy over military action against Shi’ite’s movement in Zaria because we can now breathe fresh air in our areas. Before, we can’t grant interview to the world about Shi’ite’s activities, but now we are sleeping with our two eyes closed.
“As a community, we wrote letters to the government about the ungodly activities of Shi’ite but no single action was taken. We no longer report Shi’ite to police because they will never honour police or security invitation. These Shi’ite are authority unto themselves, they
don’t respect authority, security and so on. We are Muslims but we discovered that, Shi’ite activities are contrary to Islam. They carried dangerous weapons openly, molesting innocent people in our areas. Human rights should also look into our pains by Shi’ite sect.”
Alhaji Saidu Garba, one of the Gyallesu’s elders who spoke said, the once booming economic activities have been crippled due to the
activities of Shi’ite in the area.
According to Garba, “After, El-Zakzaky was released from detention in 1999, he came and settled in Gyallesu, since then there has been no peace in our area. We thank Allah for touching the heart of government and the military for liberating us from Shi’ite’s untold hardship. Shi’ite killed many of our people who challenged their activities, we buried them and we cannot talk to the world because of their threats. We were living like slaves in our own land which Shi’ite leader, Sheikh El-Zakzaky came and met us. We residents of Gyallesu are calling on the federal government to ban Shi’ite movement in our community and Kaduna State as a whole. Government should put a stop to Shi’ite’s ungodly activities in our area,” he said.
Matters Arising: The blame game
Series of blames have played out between the Shi’ite and Nigerian Army since the clash, just as the Shi’ite accuses the Army of genocide and indiscriminate killings of it members , the Army alleges attempt to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai .
According to the army, the life of the Army Chief was under serious threat hence the need for it to defend itself which it claimed is allowed under rules of engagement.
The General Officer Commanding, 1 Division Nigerian Army, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade, buttressed this point when he said, “They weremobilising and we got report that they were mobilising and attacking some of my troops deployed in Zaria. Waver attack and the troops have to defend themselves. And as the GOC, it is my responsibility to find out what was going on or what was going on that they were mobilising. Don’t forget, the COAS was still in Zaria.
“To attempt an assassination on the head of an Army is acclaiming to an attempt to a sitting president because if you get away with it, only God knows how far they will try it again.
“And I got a report from my field commander and then we took a decision that we need to contain these before it breaks out into a
bigger problem. And the first thing we do in each operation when such threat becomes so imminent is to conduct search operations.
“I gave instructions to my men that they should ensure as much as it is feasible that there were no casualties especially women and children because with what I was getting, it was going to be a stand up.
“No sporadic shooting as alleged but we went with mega phones to tell the people to come out quietly to reduce the numbers of casualties.
And I can tell you, over 1,500 people, men, women and came out quietly in their hundreds.
“All fires around in were caused by the petrol bombs used by the members of the group as it backfired on them. A bullet does not cause fire,” he said.
Also, giving an update on the clash between the army and the Shi’ite group which led to deaths of so many persons on both sides, he reiterated that the Nigeria Army holds dearly the sanctity of life in securing the territorial integrity of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“We make no apologies to any group that threatens the peace and security of the land and will not hesitate to put such group to check.
“Nigeria Army has no issue with the Shi’ite group which is like any other group in the land. But if any group chose not to obey the law of the land or challenge the authority, it means that that group does not value the sanctity of life and integrity of the land.”
He said, the clashes between the sect and the army was avoidable but we have issues with those who create state within the state, “our rule of engagement is to address any threat before it becomes a full blown challenge, and any group that chose to be violent in nature must be dealt with squarely.”
The Army also accuses the group of taking laws into their hands and infringing on other peoples’ right by causing unnecessary hardship on Nigerians plying the road.
The Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, CP Usman Shehu who accompanied the GOC 1 Div, Nigerian Army during a press parley, accused the Shi’ite group of not recognising any government established institutions.
The GOC however, vowed to deal decisively with any group who, under any guise, attempts to, through its action or activities, threaten the peace, security and integrity of the nation.
Major General Oyebade also debunked allegations by the Sister forum of the group that it raped its women before killing them, saying it is untrue.
The Army claimed it recovered dangerous weapons such as petrol bombs, bow and arrow, axes, machetes, from the Shi’ite group while the sect claimed there were no weapons in its possession.
According to the GOC, “If what they were doing is peaceful procession, what are they doing with petrol bombs? If it was not pre-meditated, what were they doing with petrol bombs.”
While the Shi’ite on it part denies no weapon was found in its possession when the Army raided it centers, the Shi’ite group said “The Nigerian government in order to justify its brutal attacks on the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and it’s leadership have yet again released a 3+ minutes propaganda video clip to buttress the fraudulent claims that IMN has a military wing that is a threat to the Nigerian nation. And they are frantically searching for ways to cover up their crimes or worst still, even justify it through these mischievous propaganda campaigns.
“In the past, Nigerians were told that the reason the Nigerian Army killed 1000+ members of IMN, attacked and destroyed the Zaria Husseiniyah and attacked the residence of His Eminence Sheikh Ibrahim, shot him, his wife and killed his children in front of him, was because members of IMN wanted to “assassinate Nigerian Army Chief”. In this video clip another reason was given to justify that Zaria massacre. “Credible information received that the sect is stockpiling arms and weapons in its headquarters (Husseiniyah)”.
“In this propaganda video the Nigerian government claimed it received “credible information”. The question to ask here is, from whom did the Nigerian government receive this “credible information”? The fact that they did not find a single bullet in the Zaria Husseiniyah means that information was not credible. It also proved that the Zaria massacre was an Imperialist agenda,” the group claimed.
It would be recalled that federal government had ordered removal of road blocks except where they are necessary. But surprisingly, road
blocks were said to be found on streets leading to Sheikh El-Zakzaky’s house.
According to the GOC, “we saw sand bags on the streets leading to Zakzaky’s residence. We expected to see security agents manning the
road block but instead they were manned by members of the Shi’ites and fully armed,” Maj. Gen. Oyebade stated.
Another thing that cut the attention of the people is the fact that the Shi’ite group is known to be promoting an ideology of Hussein and celebrates the birth of Hussein, Moses. But on the day, the incidence happened the Shi’ite group claimed it was celebrating Maulod, the
birth of Prophet Muhammad which it is not known for.
Whereabouts and conditions of the leader:
There have been conflicting reports whether the leader of the group was arraigned. The whereabouts of the Shi’ite leader, Sheikh
El-Zazkzaky, is yet unknown as the security agencies shy away from every question put across to them concerning his whereabouts. Though, when asked, the GOC said El-Zakzaky was not in the Army custody but he is safe, secured and undergoing medical care, he added that , “no detainee is with the military as every detainee from the operations have been handed over to the appropriate security agencies of government.”
El-Zakzaky’s fate ?
This is a big question that only time can tell what the fate of Shiekh El-Zakzaky would be.