Can we survive without a universally accepted and respected central cultural identity ?
Are we in a country that has suffice to envelop it’s clan, whose people suffer no cravings, nor any one sleeps unfed?
Are we living in a country where the Truth prevails and Justice is served, where a common man’s need is more important than a Rich man’s greed?
Are we living in a land where knowledge, wisdom and enlightenment define education? A country that dwells on Research and Development?
Are we governed by the enlightened beings who emphasize on peace, unity of the people, harmony, humanity and ensures working towards a just system ?
Peaceful lands are characterized by the chirping sounds of birds and the energetic buzz of citizens going about their daily activities. Unfortunately, in countries like Nigeria, it’s an entirely different story, especially in recent times.
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Nigeria today is plagued by the sounds of bullets renting the air, shocking citizens into suppressed wails and rivulets of tears. But what shocked me most was discovering that these bullets are not only fired by the so-called ‘Terrorists’, ‘Unknown Gunmen’, ‘Bandits’ or ‘Kidnappers’, but also by the armed forces of Nigeria. Ironically, in many cases , both the Nigerian Armed Forces and the ‘Terrorists’ target the Nigerian citizens.
This leads to the question: ‘What coincidence could lead to the targeting of the same victims by national forces and criminals?’
Doesn’t this hint at a trail of suspicion stemming from the worsening state of insecurity in Nigeria?
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There are many instances that buttress this point. As many would testify, the Nigerian Armed forces, especially the Police and the Army, have a history of spilling blood on the streets of the country. This, they’ve done against unarmed citizens such as the #EndSARS protesters and the peaceful protesters of the Islamic movement.
Just this month, on the 5th of August, 2022, which coincided with the 10th of Muharram, 1444, the sounds of gunshots rang out in Zaria City of Kaduna state. Incidentally, the shots were coming from different strategic locations, but the victims were all unarmed Nigerian Citizens.
The first round of shots was by joint forces (Nigerian Police and Army), who shot decidedly at peaceful protesters who were commemorating ‘Ashura’, a date regarded as symbolic due to the resistance of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. Hussain (A.S) had been grossly outnumbered and slaughtered along with his loyal companions and family members in the desert of Karbala about 1383 years ago for not bowing down to the tyrannic government of Yazid.
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Hence, Ashura is regarded not just as a historic incident in Muslim History, but a symbolic of resistance and sacrifice to uphold truth and Justice while antagonizing tyranny and oppression. Many activists following different religions such as Nelson Mandela and even Mahatma Gandhi have drawn inspiration from Ashura, indicating that it contains messages for all humanity.
But alas! As if identifying themselves with that tyrannic government of centuries past, the Nigerian forces opened fire on the commemorates of Ashura and even killed 6 people, injuring a lot more. This inhuman act was perpetrated by uniformed joint forces who, ironically, are supposed to protect the lives and property of the citizens of Nigeria.
Isn’t it puzzling that the Nigerian armed forces have enough ammunition to fire against unarmed citizens, while not being brave enough to hunt down the so-called terrorists /bandits ? Perhaps they prefer displaying their abilities against innocent citizens, rather than targeting similarly-armed adversaries. Or it could be that there’s been a hidden agenda in play all along!
Meanwhile, recognizing the significance of the stance of Imam Hussain (A.S) and its applicability in our time makes people troop out in their millions across the globe, as injustice anywhere is justice everywhere. Likewise, it is imperative that oppression be opposed and Justice upheld, wherever, whenever.
Interestingly, such a gathering has been held even at Washington D.C of the U.S.A, in the precincts of the White House, but it’s only in Nigeria that the participants were attacked. Such attacks have been going on for years, leading to loss of lives, destruction of property and infliction of serious injuries without compensation.
As for the second conspicuous round of gunshots, they came from the rural environs of Zaria, where ‘terrorists’, ‘unknown gunmen’ or whatever the henchmen are labeled, were performing an ‘operation’.
These twin attacks made me wonder, ‘Could this be a coincidence? Or is it a smelly suspicious trail of conspiracy that should be followed and unraveled?’
I called this “The Smell of Suspicion Pervading the State of Insecurity in Nigeria”.
Let’s reason this out.
A Concerned Nigerian
Shu’aib Isa Ahmad
International Member, Amnesty International