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Are The Shiites Above The Law?



By Emmanuel Ome

“They continue to say that we are armed, this is a blatant lie. If we are armed, Nigerian Army cannot face us. “If we have weapons with us, Nigerian Army is too small to face us. With our courage and brevity, with empty hands, they are running away from us; talk less of when we have arms. They know that we are not armed because they are cowards.” – Abdullahi Zango- Shiites Leader on the clash with Soldiers in Zuba, Gwagwalada, Abuja .

These are excerpts from a public statement released by Sheik Abdullahi Zango in the aftermath of the latest clash between his sect members and security agents, especially Soldiers. When I read this bragging, from an obvious outlaw, I almost wept for my country, Nigeria. I saw the naked mockery and grandstanding of a deadly and fanatical religious sect against the Army with such stupefying pride.

I was more confused when Zango admitted tacitly in the statement by alleging that “persons with arms had been planted among the Shiites, by the police, in a bid to incriminate the group.”

However, the rage and tantrums over the latest attack on soldiers by the Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky led Shiites in Nigeria or the Islamic Movement In Nigeria (IMN) have relaxed the bitterness and tensions gradually waning and the absurdity of the action has laid bare its fangs. Now let’s take a second and critical look, once more at the pattern of the affront on state by members of this fanatical religious sect.

We can recollect within memorable time in Nigeria, that the Iranian affiliated and sponsored extremists in Nigeria have caused several avoidable clashes with security agents, resulting in regrettable casualties. From the December 2015 clash with the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai in Zaria, the statistics of the number of the sect-induced clashes are on the ascendency.

The sects’s notoriety for clashes with security agents spares none. In a bid to restrain them from disruption of public peace and security, they attacked the police in Kano in November, 2016 during that year’s 2016 “Arbaeen Symbolic Trek”, an incident which left seven policemen dead. I also learnt, a similar attack in November, 2017 by the same religious fanatics and security agents left scores of deaths.

And precisely in April 2018, the group also clashed with police/soldiers in Abuja. They feigned protests for the release of their leader Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who has been remanded in prison custody by lawful court order. It also ended up in scores of injuries. And I can keep reeling out such instances endlessly.

And just a week earlier, we also heard of the incident of their clash with soldiers at Zuba in Gwagwalada, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

Other Media reports suggested that the IMN who were supposed to be on the annual “Arbaeen Symbolic Trek’ to Abuja, suddenly transmogrified into demonstrators demanding the release of El-Zakzaky. The protesters blocked the Dutse and Galadima parts of the Kubwa Expressway and created traffic gridlock and public disorderliness.

An earlier press conference by the sect on Saturday, alerted the public of the three-day march, beginning on Sunday to terminate on October 30, 2018. And what baffled me was that the sect was explicit that more than one million of its members were expected to converge on Abuja from Suleja in Niger State for the yearly “Arbaeen Symbolic Trek, ” a somewhat spiritual exercises which morphed into protests.

I imagined the chaos and commotion of the influx of more than one million people into Abuja would cause in the guise freedom of peaceful protests. I believe it was stretching such liberties too far. And one could discern from media reports the severity of the spread of the Shiites in the protests. And usually armed with dangerous weapons, which previous experiences have proven, they freely use them anybody who stand on their path.

We are told the group in frightening multitudes approached a military checkpoint near Zuma motor park and were denied passage by soldiers on their duty post. And based on prevailing insecurity all over the country and the desire of terrorists to strike Abuja at all cost, the decision of the soldiers not to allow such volume of armed protesters ingress into Abuja was very clear to me.

But the sect members resisted lawful security order. Its unthinkable, but also explainable. Shiites have not only pledged allegiance to the Republic of Iran, where their spiritual leader is domiciled, but have also openly vowed never to obey the laws or Constitution of Nigeria.

This mindset and sects instant reaction laid the template for a clash with the soldiers. They began hurling stones at the soldiers, brandishing swords, cudgels and smashing the windscreens of both civilian and military vehicles.

In the ensuing confusion, some of the berserk sect members attacked and attempted to forcefully seize military vehicles on convoy, conveying ammunitions and missiles to a different destination. Thus, it opened the vista for another confrontation. Regrettable deaths were recorded.

I have read some of the commentaries on the matter and it leaves me with a sour taste in the mouth. Some analysts are arguing meaninglessly that the Federal Government of Nigeria, predominantly controlled by the Sunni Muslims have deployed unreasonable force in repressing the Shiites. I have not heard an argument so watery or fluid.

Those who parade this view do not even remember that the IMN is an unlawful organization in Nigeria, which has refused to do the needful even after several pleadings. I also understand, The organisation has existed in Nigeria for nearly 45 years. The sect’s headquarters is in Kaduna state. But the state government under Gov. Nasi el-Rufai has proscribed it two years back. The Federal Government is rather lenient for delaying the national proscription of IMN in Nigeria.

But if all of the religious in Nigeria, exercise the rights in such brazen abuse as done by the sect, would there be peace for any other Nigerian? Its illogical for anybody under the pretext of liberty to protest, regale in ferrying over a million people into the already congested Abuja for a protest. This cannot be rationalized under any excuse.

Assuming the millions of Roman Catholic faithfuls, or the Redeemers, or the Deeper Lifers, or Living Faith members in Abuja also mobilize their members’ in millions for protests on any issue they feel aggrieved, would the Shiites find a space to spot their shadows on the ground? Or should the Tijaniyya Islamic sect or the Sunni Muslims also mobilize their members in millions to converge on Abuja, would there be space for other Nigerians? Let’s reason together!

I don’t know when a protest becomes violent. But if the protesting fanatics hurl stones at security agents, brandish dangerous weapons before soldiers and challenge their efficacy as Abdullahi Zango later admitted boastfully , as quoted above, what else is the definition of violent protests?

Shiites leader, Abdullahi Zango also indicted his sect members by his voluntary admission that the police planted some arms and ammunitions among members of the sect on the procession/protests. It sounds like an afterthought narrative to divert attention from their intention for invading Abuja in such numbers.

Reliable security sources say, the sect was prepared to violently seize Abuja. They plotted discreet sneaking of explosives and other dangerous weapons into the city, to destroy the peace and lives of others in the nation’s capital.

We all know, IMN is a terrorists organization, backed by Iran. So, they reject Nigeria’s legitimate constitution, but enforce their own barbaric laws on the country and her peoples. This is not acceptable anywhere. There is nowhere in the world, where there is total freedom, when public safety and security are the deciding factors. The Shiites can give us some peace.

Amnesty International (AI) is concerned about the abuse of the human rights of the protesters; but less concerned about the human rights of the rest of us these devious fanatical sect members violate with such impunity. This terrorist’s sect deserves no such cuddling like innocent babies, but their affront on state and idiocy should be treated appropriately. They are not above the law!

Ome, a professor writes from the Department of Religion and Cultural Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

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War with The Church, As Obi Insulted Catholic Bishops



…Says they Lack Political Relevance

The recent media war between the former governor of Anambra state, Mr Peter Obi and the most populated Christian faithfuls in Igbo land (Catholic Church) has left many totally Flabbergasted .

Chief Peter Obi who is a running mate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday the 20th of January, 2019 described the Catholic Bishops as a group of cabal in Igbo politics yet without voting capacity and relevance and urge the highly placed / top Religious mentors to seek for an additional system that will make them move from parasitic to symbiotic animals.

Chief Obi made the statement when he met with members of the Anglican laity councils of Nigeria(ANLCN) Anambra state chapter at his Onitsha GRA quarters .

We must also realize that few days ago, it was gathered that Obi called one of the most respectful catholic Bishop in Anambra state on phone around 2am and threatened him on why the Catholic church is against his aspiration and even went to a far extent to inform the Bishop that Catholic Church can’t stop him from winning the election but they will not benefit from his government if he wins.

Unfortunately for the aggrieved Obi who spoke to the clergy man with furious language, he never that his voice was recorded by the Bishop who further played the audio in the congregation of their meeting .

Since ever then, Obi have been working very hard to discredit the enormous spiritual, moral and value development created in the entire christiadom by the Bishops and members of the Catholic church.

One of the most recent and most unbearable was Obi ‘s attempt to refer the Bishops as a group of cabals without political relevance.

Just like Martin Luther King Jr would say ” Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere ” it therefore suggest that the attack on on Bishops by Obi is an attack on the generality of the Catholic church.

It was equally gathered that Obi was forced to declare war on the Catholic church because he was reliably inform that over 70 Bishops attended the Igbo conference where it was resolved that Igbos needs a presidency in 2023 not a vice president.

The above resolution from political perspectives didn’t favour Mr. Peter Obi’s vice presidential ambition and since ever then, Obi has declared war against the church.

Joseph Nwanolu wrote from Onitsha

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By Nathaniel Ikyur

On the sidelines of the gubernatorial campaign rally in Gwer-West which held in Naka town, headquarters of the local council, on Saturday January 19, I met a couple of three Tyoshin men, two women and seven youngmen at a food joint. One of the woman runs the food joint. I had visited the place to fill up while the governor was meeting with the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, a short distance away.

The initial discourse, as I heard why enjoying my pounded yam and pork meat delicacy was about the Gwer-West Council chairman who was caught on camera kneeling down before a group of people. They were referred to as the PDP ‘stakeholders’ of the local government who were embarassed, as I learnt from the discussion, at the actions of the chairman for shouting APC at a PDP function where the wife of the governor, Erdoo Ortom was present.

There was a unanimous position among these discussants, except one lady, that the chairman of the council deserved what he got. The middle aged woman who runs the food joint told me when I enquired why there is so much bile against their local government chairman, as translated into English; that, “the chairman never helped himself by his conduct in office. He isolated himself. The youths were not awith him as others do.”

I was interested in their discussion but was more curious to find out about what took me to Naka. So i interjected in a friendly tone. I asked what their position is/will be in the forthcoming governorship elections. It was not hard for them to know where I stand since I was decked in an #Ortom2019 branded PDP shirt. Of course I knew why I asked this. Two of the governorship candidates in the fortcoming elections are of Ihyarev extraction. Barr Emmmanuel Jime of APC but particularly, Rev Frederick Ikyaan of the Peoples Redemption Party, PRP who hails from Gaambe U Shin Council Ward/Mbatswarev in Gwer-West. And like a well rehearsed choral group, they all chorosued: Ortom.

The woman who runs the food joint told me in unequivocal terms that “Tyoshin people have always been PDP. We don’t know what happened in 2015 but thank God General Ortom is back to his roots.” The other youngman who said he was from the same council Ward with Rev Ikyaan said, “it’s not that we don’t love our brother the Rev. We don’t want to waste our votes. Even if we vote him, he won’t win so we’ll go with what the Tiv people are doing” and added with a proverb: “see, we are holding down a mad dog. We won’t lose our grip from its neck until we kill it, else it will bite us and the poison from its bite will kill us. And the person we know can do this is Gov Ortom.” The mad dog in the proverb is the marauding herdsmen who have killed and maimed the Benue populace.

Remember also that Gwer-West had a bitter bite of the anger of the military last year where a section of Naka town was razed down by the soldiers over allegations that a soldier was killed by the villagers. The scars are too fresh for the people to forget in a hurry.

As the discussion got underway, some of my fellow discussants assured me that the crowd that will come for the rally will be in excess of what I may have seen before. Of course I didn’t doubt them because we experienced similar turn out in 2015. But I asked them if mere crowds at a campaign rally coul garner in the needed votes. They spoke with some air of confidence saying, it’s a testimony of the good things that would follow. That it’s the assurance of things to come.

And true to type, the campaign ground began to swell to its brim. By the time the governor arrived the venue at about 3:25 pm with Dr Ayu in tow, the entire field was filled to capacity. Leaders of the various sections of the local government spoke with one voice. Chief Godwin Ikyereve spoke on behalf of Raav. Hon Kenneth Iyo, Engr. Felix Atume among many others who also spoke at the rally confirmed what the young man at the food joint told me. That Gwer-West is PDP. Hon Iyo who is a former member of the Benue state House of Assembly expressed deep pains over the way and manner his immediate community situated along the river Benue have become a place where there were constant attacks by the herdsmen. In one agreement, they declared that the mistake in 2015 will not be repeated. Which is why they decided to maintain one direction in the forthcoming general elections by voting PDP. Indeed, they assured they will work to ensure that this is sustained.

Gwer-East and Guma local government where the governor hails from, had also witnessed the same sort of referendum on Gov Ortom’s re-election. The turn out at the Gbajimba rally was electrifying and massive. Gradually, the wind blowing across the state is been resolute and consistent. That Ortom who many have given him an unofficial title as the civilian general be voted again to round up a second term and lead the people of the state against the invading herdsmen. It has been a clear testimony. And apart from other sections of the state, MINDA leaders have all spoken and have given hope that they will swing their votes in favour of Ortom on March 2, 2019. In the four MINDA local governments of Guma with a total registered voters of 91,141, Gwer East 93,606, Gwer west 61,411 and Makurdi with an admixture of metropolitan nature, with a whooping figure of 272,158, it will be heartwarming to see how the enthusiasm on the faces of many will be turned into victory songs and dance inspite of the familiar challenges.

From the MINDA axis alone where the invasion is high next only to Logo local government in Sankera, governor Ortom and the PDP will sure garner more than 60 percent of total vote cast, leaving the other parties to scamper with the rest. Of course respected elder statesman Prof Shima Gyoh, a renowned medical doctor had once argued that the most important thing at the moment is to join hands with Governor Ortom to fight the invaders first. After that, we’ll sit down and ask questions about other sectors of our growth and development.

Jemgbah bloc also gave their referendum in favour of Ortom. Thousands thronged the PDP campaign rallies in the three Jemgbah local governments areas of Gboko, Buruku and Tarka. They were also unanimous that Ortom be returned for a second term. They are convinced that his doggedness to repel the herdsmen whose plan to invade and take over our ancestral lands is real should not be treated with kid gloves. Dr Iyorchia Ayu, former Senate President stated this much when he spoke at all the rallies. The three Jemgbagh local governments has a combined total voter registration of 402,548. Which makes them a hot bed as a deciding factor. (Gboko: 232,132; Tarka: 49,098 while Buruku has 121,318) Before this election, there wouldn’t have been any contest in Gboko, Buruku and Tarka against the status quo. That’s not there again. And the reason is simple: there’s a growing anger against the APC and its leaders for not only turning a blind eye while the state is almost over ran by the herdsmen with traceable complicity against some tribal groups like Miyetti Allah, MACBAN and other affiliate groups but also that some Tiv leaders have allegedly gone into alliance with foreigners and were accusing the Tiv of killing themselves.

The turn of events at all these rallies points to the fact that not only are the people resolved to stand behind Gov Ortom Ortom to fight the aggressors, he will also sing a victory song. His election will affect drastically, the outcome of most elections, altering the status quo. This will see the PDP winning more seats at the National and state legislative houses in Benue state.

And for those who dont know, another gain of Governor Ortom in the forthcoming elections is the expectancy of political blocs like Jerchira, Kwande in Tiv speaking area and the Benue South district who are aiming at taking over in 2023. These three blocs are all laying claim to the coveted seat in 2023. And so one last term for Ortom in 2019 is a sure bet for them at taking a shot at the 2023 governorship seat. Which is why they will return block votes for Ortom. Except those who may want to live in denial, the odds of the 2019 governorship elections in Benue state are more in favour of Ortom than any other perceived candidate. We may argue with every emotions in us, throwing up all manner of imaginary powers elsewhere to subvert the popular will of the people, at the end of the day, Ortom will coast home to victory, dusting the ambitious, pretenders and jokers.

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Atiku’s withdrawal from the debate is a tactical masterstroke



By Farooq Kperogi

I’ve read commentaries that aver that Atiku’s decision to bail out of Saturday’s presidential debate in protest against Buhari’s decision not to participate in it was a tactical error. I disagree. Here is why.

The presidential debate is designed to be a match–or, if you like, a push and pull– between the defending champion, i.e., Buhari, and contenders to the title he holds, i.e., Atiku, Moghalu, Madam Oby, Sowore, and others. If the defending champion declines to thrown his hat into the ring, the entire match becomes pointlessly self-injurious to the challengers. In other words, it would have been a fatal strategic and tactical error for Atiku to partake in a potentially bruising contest with other challengers while the defending championing sits pretty somewhere unhurt.

I’ve read other people suggest that Atiku, being Buhari’s closest challenger, should have used the opportunity of the debate to sell himself to Nigerians. Well, that’s what #NgTheCandidates town hall chat is there for. You don’t sell your agenda by making yourself vulnerable to potentially deathly blows from other challengers who don’t hold the title you are fighting for.

Instead of pillorying Atiku for not taking part in the debate, we should question the other candidates for agreeing to participate in a meaningless dueling match with each other when the defending champion who holds the crown they want to grab chose to run away. Their performance in the debate would only be meaningful if it’s measured against the performance of the defending champion.

From a tactical point of view, I also don’t blame Buhari for refusing to show up for the debate. His mental and physical infirmities are now on full display and would be exposed even more in the unscripted, back-and-forth format of a debate. The cabal that minds him already deeply regrets allowing him to take part in Thursday’s town-hall chat because his cringe-worthy performance at the event dramatized his dementia and aggrandized his unfitness for the job of president. His campaign trail mishaps aren’t helping, either. Another bruise from a debate would seal his fate before Election Day.

In a tragic irony, Buhari and Atiku are less qualified for the presidency than all the other contenders are, yet it is either of them that will emerge president in February. That’s why both candidates are more guarded and strategic in their choices than the rest.

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