The Nigerian army has come under intense criticism in recent days following days of clashes with protesters from the Shiite Islamic sect clamouring for the release of their spiritual leader Zakawi. Criticisms in itself is not bad when justified, what’s dangerous though is that the vast majority of critisms levelled against the Nigerian army’s handling of the clashes is politically motivated. Nigerians are playing a dangerous game here.
The Shiite Islamic sect can only look at the vitriolic criticisms against the army by Nigerians as proof they are on a righteous cause and embolden them further. It gives them the victim mentlity mindset they are now exploiting.
Nigerians have to ask themselves, is the political antagonism (of which much is justified ) against the Buhari government worth risking the emergence of another Islamic sect who think they are fighting for a righteous cause? Are we ever going to learn from history?
When Boko Haram started the majority of Nigerian were bemused. Boko Harams initial attack was strictly against government targets and many Nigerians tacitly supported these attacks, seeing them as perhaps the new Robin hood. When Nigerian troops stormed Boko Haram HQ in Maiduguri, destroyed the mosque captured and kill some of its members, scattering the rest of its members, the move was seen by Nigerians and the United States as heavy disproportionate use of force, typical of a brutal army and heavily critiszed.
When the group’s spiritual leader Mohammed Yusuf was summarily executed it was Nigerians who sent the video clip viral, as evident of the brutality of the Nigerian army by a corrupt state. The Nigerian government underestimated how powerful social media can be. The unanimous criticisms forced the army to step on the breaks and stop its crackdown.
Well it didn’t take long for Robin Hood to abandon its fight with the brutal government and cowardly train its guns against defenceless and innocent Nigerian civilians irrespective of religious affiliations. Today 30,000 Nigerians have lost their lives, the vast majority of them Muslims.
Today Nigerians are again underestimating the dangers that comes witj allowing the Shiite extremist group to fester. Anything that paints the Buhari administration in a negative light seems to be fair game for many.
But why should Nigerians worry about the growing Shiite groups agitation ?
The self-proclaimed Shiite Islamic sect is a hybrid jihadist group with a declared goal of establishing a “lasting and expanding” Shiia Islamic movement among Nigeria’s Sunni majority Muslim population.
Its strategy for survival depends on political and ideological support from a foreign government for quasi self-determination. Soliciting foreign support for a self determination agenda is in itself treasonous. Years back two container load of weapons from Iran was confiscated by Nigerian Customs. The group has been growing in strength for years with proof of Iranian involvement. Yet the Nigerian governments response has largely been limited for fear of inciting anger.
The gaps in Nigeria’s approach, as well as tolerance of subversive Iranian operations in stoking deep sectarian divisions in Nigeria’s Sunni Shiia divide, are allowing the Shiite Islamic sect to continue to exist and expand.
External Dimensions to Nigeria’s Struggle with Islamic Extremists
So here we have the Franco American alliance up north training and funding Boko Haram to keep the group alive long enough to justify their continued presence in the region. Not long ago the Americans were claiming a large number of ISIS fighters were moving from Syria to Nigeria, without a shred of evidence. They’ve even gone as far as dropping the name Boko Haram for ISWAP (Islamic State in West Africa). Of course how convenient. The United States is allowed to go after ISIS targets anywhere they can be found and carry out unilateral drone strikes. If there’s ISIS in Nigeria, then the United States is just so lucky to have drone bases at the right place at the right time.
Then we have Iran doing what it does best, exporting and supporting Shiia terrorists and extremists. This has made Iran the most hated country in the middle east. It will suprise many to kniw that Saudi Arabia considers Uran more of a threat that Israel.
They’ve sent weapons to groups like Hezbollah and now they are bringing their anti-Sunni crusade to Nigeria. One would expect the Nigerian government to break diplomatic relations with Iran when Iranian army general threatened Nigeria, or expell Iranian diplomats if they cannot explains what the two container loads of weapons it sent to Nigeria was for.
We have witnessed the illegal Iranian funded Shiite Islamic sect’s approach evolve over time, from an emphasis on building mosques, funding Shiaa Islamic schools, courts and speaking against the circular Nigerian state, to more proactive operations, and more recently, to attempt to take advantage of the discontent against the Buhari administration and a military stretched to near breaking point.
The group is now bold enough to stage more and more violent clashes in Abuja, a feat IPOB, Boko Haram or the Niger Delta militants could only dream of.
Where was senseless tirade against the Presidents heavy-handed approach in dealing with IPOB protesters from northerners. The fact that the most vitriolic criticism and condemnation against the Presidents non tolerance towards the Shiite agitators are coming from southerners shows that the Shiite extremist group is benefiting from two powerful dynamics: the growing unpopularity and anger among Nigerians against the Buhari administration, and the toxic political climate for the upcoming elections, where the Buhari camp is doing all it can to highlight the success of his first term in office, and opposition camp using every opportunity to show Nigerians what life under Buhari will look like.
Election campaign propaganda to woo voters is not a bad thing, but politicizing the security situation without thinking about the consequence is playing with fire. There no such thing as a peaceful Islamic sect protest. Nigerians should put politics aside and consider the securing implications of the growing violent protests in the nation’s capital. Taunting security operatives to open fire with the aim of using those killed to further their propaganda by painting a picture of a brutal Nigerian army killing innocent Islamic acts protesters and rallying the country behind their cause is just so sad.
Releasing the leader of an Islamic sect that is basically building a parralel country within a country with its own educational system, institution and foreign policy is unwise. Anybody able to incite millions against the central authority while receiving funding from a foreign government is a national security risk and deserves to be behind bars. Nigerians should stop this knee jerk reactionary approach towards the Nigerian army and think with their head and not their emotions.