Nigerian State is waging a war on Islam and Muslims – Sharia Council
by Dr Datti Ahmad
(Text of a Press Conference by the Supreme Council For Sharia in Nigeria: No More Pretensions, the Nigerian State is waging a war on Islam and Muslims) Gentlemen of the Press, I welcome you all to this Press Conference on a very important and weighty issue on the serious concerns of Muslims over a Systematic war on Muslims and Islam by the Federal Government,
controlled by CAN.
Since the end of Military dictatorship in 1999, Muslims and other objective observers have witnessed, with incredible consternation, the progressive transformation of the Nigerian State into a government of CAN, by CAN and for Christians, in character, structure and policies.
This ugly development, now appropriately christened a “transformation agenda”, appears to have reached its zenith, involving practically all Federal Government Institutions and resources, with the active support of all security agencies and the Armed forces, all pursing in unison, the objective of collective punishment, marginalization, intimidation and demonization of Muslims and Islam. This unfortunate development is now openly executed, with no conscience or pretensions, for even the blind can see. This relentless war against Islam and Muslims for close to 15 years by the Nigerian State and its agencies of coercion, which was initially under deceptive guises, is today crystal clearly targeting the slaughter of Muslims with impunity, and to destroy the future and livelihood of Muslims in every conceivable way, for the goal of 2015 in the short term and at the same time, inflict upon Muslims, an everlasting state of impotence in the long term. This MUST stop, Now! And from today, we urge all Muslims to wake up to this real and immediate danger so that we can take appropriate steps to put an end to it.
I will begin with the latest plan by CAN and its security agencies, SSS, DIA, DMI and the Police, to target and arrest prominent Muslim clerics, scholars, Imams and other activists, then employ the obnoxious SSS tactic of using youths, under duress or through inducement and deception, to give false prepared testimonies against such targeted Muslims. The most recent case is the criminal arrest, detention and humiliation of Dr. Muhammad Yunus Nazeefi, a well known and respected critic of the Boko Haram ideology and tactics, now being portrayed as a spiritual leader of the group.
We demand his immediate and unconditional release from detention, a public apology, compensation for his unlawful incarceration and humiliation, and most importantly, a public inquiry to reveal those behind this dastardly act.
We also call on the President to put an immediate end to the impunity and criminality of the SSS or risk the wrath of the people who will definitely rise up to resist such gross abuses and injustice. Injustice as is being perpetrated by the present Government, can never bring about peace, but breed perpetual circles of violence. Unfortunately, we are aware of a sinister plan to commence the wholesale arrest and humiliation of prominent Muslims, with approval from the highest level of Govt., to include Muslim clerics, scholars, Imams and other Muslim activists.
At this juncture, I must salute the courageous patience and perseverance of Nigerian Muslims for all the acts of provocation, impunity, brazen injustices, profiling and stigmatization, over a long period. No doubt, we have given the Govt. benefit of doubt for too long, for noble as the act of patience is, it has a limit, and that limit we seem to have reached now. The import of the statement by the Chief of Army staff, General Ihejinka in 2011 that the armed forces are fighting a civil war, not just elements of the Boko Haram insurgency is quite clear today, it is a war against Islam and Muslims.
Muslims are fed up with the Government’s duplicitous circle of deception and double standards. Here, I will give just a few in controvertible examples, which raise many questions begging for answers. (i) Since the early 1980s when religious crises and the mass massacre of Muslims commenced in earnest, (Zangon Kataf I and II, Kasuwan Magani, Kafanchan, Tafawa Balewa, Jos, Yelwan Shendam, Numan, Mambila Plateau, Kuru Jenta, and most recently, Zonkwa, Wase and Wukari), all promises, undertakings and assurances by the Federal Government to investigate and sanction the leaders and perpetrators have not been met. After each round of massacre of Muslims, the Federal Government would come with the familiar high sounding assurances which are never meant to be fulfilled.
(ii) For quite some time, there have been numerous cases of Christians involved in terrorist related acts, but such cases are never investigated by the Police and SSS, even in instances where they were caught red handed in the act. I will give a few instances in 2010 alone, beginning with Messrs. Moses Ashaji and Papa, arrested on Friday, 19th February, 2010 along Akwanga-Jos Road with huge stocks of locally manufactured rifles. Also, Daniel Chayi Gyang, Amos Akila and Mbono Musa, were arrested with deadly weapons, including rocket launchers, grenades and AK47 rifles, intercepted by the SSS in Maiduguri on 30th July, 2010 on their way to Plateau State. There was another case of eleven well armed terrorists arrested in August 2010, including the village head of Nasarawa Village, Chief Danteri Bongwat of Langtang South, and an illegal armory located in Kuru, Plateau State. These cases were widely reported in the media, but the CAN SSS never took any action, because they were not Muslims. Still in 2010, the Punch Newspaper reported the arrest of Five (5) Pastors “for operating an Illegal Military outfit” (a Euphemism for terrorist activity, since the word is exclusively reserved for Muslims), in Lagos, with their photographs published at page 11 of the Wednesday edition, 10th March, 2010.
The examples are too numerous to cite here, but the most recent were two news reports on the arrest CAN Military operatives by the police “for operating illegal security outfit” in Jalingo, Taraba State. Those arrested included Reverend Chaplain Shehu Yakubu, a retired customs officer Sunday Silas, retired SSS officer Sulaiman Audu, a retired ASP Y. Winew, a retired ASP Isma’ila Makaniki and many others. This was reported by the Daily Trust Newspaper of Saturday, 2nd November, 2013 at page 10. In the same paper, at Page 8, was another report, “Police nab woman, 2 others over militia training in Gombe”, in which one Mrs. Deborah Babayo and two men were reportedly arrested by the Gombe Police Command “for conducting illegal militia training under the auspices of an illegal organization, called “The Elite Corps” on the outskirts of Gombe, on 1st November, 2013. In both cases, which we believe the Police and SSS will sweep under the carpet as usual, the concern of the Police in the two reports was the “sums of money involved but unfortunately, though not surprisingly, they were silent on the cache of arms recovered.
Perhaps even more revealing in the unfolding drama of double standards and deception by the Federal Government and its CAN controlled security agencies are widely reported cases of Christians, too numerous to mention, who were actually caught in the act of terrorism, which were never investigated, let alone prosecuted. There have been more than twenty of such cases, but I will cite about half a dozen as examples, in Gombe, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Plateau, Lagos, Benue and Rivers States.
In Gombe State, there was a report on the arrest of Christian men that sprayed bullets on the Gombe Deeper Life Church worshippers. Igbos were the suspects arrested who were reportedly taken to Abuja. Shortly thereafter, two Christians, Hassan Ojudu and Sama’ila Yakubu were arrested with a vehicle loaded with explosive devices and ammunitions. Curiously, they too were reportedly taken to Abuja, and as usual, nothing has been heard from the SSS Spokeswoman or in the news, to date. Still in Gombe State, one Madam Ruth was caught attempting to bomb ECWA Church in the Kalarin area of Kaltungo. But the security agencies claimed she was “hypnotized” and was conveniently set free.
In Bauchi State, one Miss Lydia Joseph was also caught red handed trying to set ST. John Catholic Church in Bauchi on fire, but she was immediately set free, with the explanation that she had a problem with a boyfriend member of the Church! Shortly after that incident, eight (8) COCIN Church members were arrested with explosive devices while attempting to bomb the Miya-Barkatai branch of the Church. By the following Sunday, they were free to participate in Church service.
In Plateau State, in March 2012, a Christian wearing Military Uniform, later identified as a member of the COCIN Church, was lynched while trying to escape after the bombing of the same Church headquarters in Jos. A few days later, on Sunday 25th March, 2012, the Special Task Force (STF) paraded one Mr. Alex Danladi, who was caught wearing army camouflage, along with one Mr. Dung Bulus, a well known fabricator of guns, and some others the authorities said were students of the University of Jos. A few weeks later, on 10th April, 2012 one Mr. Monday Davou was arrested, caught red handed, planting a timed improvised explosive device (IED), at the Makera weekly market in Riyom Local Government Area, Plateau State. This was evidently aimed at committing mass murder that was to have been instantly attributed to Boko Haram, to provide a good excuse to attack Muslims, demonize Islam and opportunity to loot Muslim property and cattle!
In Lagos, the Saturday Sun newspaper of 10th March, 2012, at page 10, reported that 11 cartons of explosives imported from South Africa, which were carefully packaged to beat security checks, where intercepted by the Nigerian Customs Service at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos. The huge consignments were for Miero Marble Granite and Stones Ltd, in Kaduna State, with one Mr. Micheal Awara Ernest as the Company representative to collect the explosives at the Cargo terminal. The statement of the Customs Area commandant at the Airport, Mr. Charles Eporwei Edike, which was profoundly insightful on the intent and probable consequences of the explosive, fell on the deaf ears of the SSS. He said “if those items were released, they could have been used to cause mayhem. We are now going to hand him and the items over to the Police for further investigation”. Well, since the handover, neither the Police nor the Spokeswoman of the almighty SSS have not said, or done anything on the case. It would be most surprising if he was not set free with his toxic import, to kill Muslims. In Benue State, on Sunday, 19th February, 2013 four (4) persons, were arrested while trying to detonate explosives at the ST. Theresa’s Catholic Parish in Makurdi. The Leadership newspaper of Wednesday, 22nd February, 2012, at page 10, reported the Police PRO, Mr. Ejike as saying that the four terrorists arrested were Christians. But before the honest revelation, the members of the public had already jumped to the conclusion that they were Muslims.
The factual examples are just too many, but for the purpose of this Press Conference, I will conclude with two examples indicative of the international dimension of the deception and double standards of our CAN controlled SSS and the Police Force. On January 11th 2012, two Nigerians, Sunday Eze from Anambra State and one Samuel Taiwo from Ogun State with three other Ghanains were arrested in Ghana, with heavy weaponry, carefully concealed in a truck which was to be brought to Nigeria. The question to ask the Police, SSS and the Presidency is who were behind the order? Certainly not NSCIA, SCSN, JNI, NASFAT, MSS, NACOMYO, MURIC OR UMMAH. While Opposing the bail of the terrorists in court on Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 the office of the Attorney General of the Republic of Ghana said “the arms and ammunitions seized on transit to Nigeria were to be used to fuel terrorists activities in Nigeria”. Which terrorist groups are they that the Nigerian Government, the Police and SSS are protecting? It must surely be the bigger, better armed, well financed and protected Government/CAN Boko Haram.
Finally, on specific factual examples, was a BBC news report published by THISDAY Newspaper of Friday, 13th January, 2012 on page 6, on a British arms dealer, Gary Hyde being prosecuted in a London court for unlawfully arranging the shipment of about 80,000 guns and 32Million rounds of ammunition from China to Nigeria in 2007. Obviously, it was not meant for Muslim terrorists, because if it was, the BBC, CNN and the Nigerian Media would have kept harping on it. As for the Presidency, SSS, the Police and our Armed Forces, this event never happened.
It appears a good number of Nigerians are afflicted by amnesia, but keen observers would recall that a few years ago, a systematic robbery of the armory of the Nigerian Army in Jaji, the 1st division of the Nigerian Army Kaduna, Ikeja cantonment and many other Military formations was widely reported, involving Christian serving Officers and Generals. A Military inquiry was instituted and many Christian Officers, serving and retired including the Late General Azazi, were indicted, but nothing was done to any of them. More importantly, were are the arms? May be they were given to one Boko Haram or another! What about the report of the Military Inquiry?
Gentlemen of the press, there are just too many questions begging for answers from the Presidency, the SSS, the Police and the Military high Command. The Presidency is definitely involved in the cover ups and double standards, for why would the President, rush to absolve MENDS from the first terrorist act involving massive bombs in Nigeria, on October 1st, 2009 even before the commencement of any investigation and attribute it to Muslim Leaders? Why would the Commander in Chief, order the Director General of SSS to publicly, in Church, grant a pardon to a Christian terrorist group, OMBATSE, of Nasarawa State, who slaughtered over 80 mobile policemen and 10 SSS operatives? Let any fair minded person imagine what would have happened if it was a group in Kano, Katsina, or any Muslims were behind what OMBATSE did! As for the double standards of the SSS; it seems to be a part of their training or culture, to provide excuses and explanations for any Christian unfortunate to be caught in a terrorist activity. The Eggon Christian tribesman of the Minister of Information (and Defence!) who was also caught red handed with arms at the Federal Ministry of Information, readily comes to mind. The SSS Spokeswoman explained off this security breach as a non-issue, since it was not a Muslim that was involved.
Recent Mass Massacre of Muslims
The Sunday Trust Newspaper of 20th October, 2013 revealed that the JTF had dumped 3,335 corpse, in Maiduguri Hospital mortuary, the toll for only 6 months, January to June, 2013. Incontrovertible evidence further revealed that an average of not less than 12 young Muslims were massacred every day during the period, at the Maiduguri Military Barracks alone! In January, 94 were killed, 61 in February, 218 in March, 200 in April, 161 in May and 233. This total figure does not include thousands killed in their homes, in Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe and Kano. To the Nigerian Government and its security agencies, the blood of a Muslim is not worth more than a mosquito.
In 2009, after series of denials by the Police and SSS of extra judicial massacre of Muslims in Maiduguri, ALJAZEERA aired a video clip that revealed the monstrous evil committed. In spite of the outcry and the clear evidence including the identity of the perpetrators, the matter has been conveniently swept under the carpet. The Apo six murderers who happened to be Muslims were however promptly apprehended, dismissed and prosecuted with unprecedented swiftness. But the most recent Apo 9 murderers are yet to be apprehended, why? because the poor souls were hated Muslims.
Disproportionate Recruitments into all Govt. Services, especially, the SSS, Armed Forces and the Police
As a result of the non-challance of Muslim leaders, especially in the last 15 years, recruitments into key parastatals and agencies, especially the SSS, NIA, the Police, the Armed Forces and even paramilitary agencies, have been systematically skewed to favour Christians, with massive expulsion and wholesale retirement of Muslims. Our Council had cause to bring this issue to the public domain and even involved the Supreme Council For Islamic Affairs and the JNI, with an advertorial and a petition on the matter handed to President Obasanjo in 2005 by the Late Sultan. Almost 10 years later, the lopsidedness in the recruitment has become even more brazen. The recent recruitment into the SSS officer corp, the latest of which graduated from their Training school in Lagos about a month ago, showed for example, Kano had 6, Kebbi and Sokoto had 3 each, while Rivers State had 38 and Akwa Ibom had 40. In addition, most of those from Kaduna, Bauchi, Taraba, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Kogi, Gombe , Ogun, Oyo and Oshun States were predominantly Christians.
At the Zaria Army depot, where other ranks of the Army are trained, over 11,000 were recruited and trained in the last 3 years, and Christian constitutes a big majority. Just last week, about 40 Muslim trainee recruits at the Zaria Army Depot were expelled, with no explanation, a few weeks before the end of their training. The records of recruitment into the officer corps of the Armed Forces at the NDA, had for over 20 years now been skewed to favour Christians. The most recent list of recruitment into the 65th regular course of the NDA is typical of what has been going on for years; Kaduna had 3 Muslims and 11 Christians, Adamawa 4 Muslims, 9 Christians, Taraba 3 Muslims 10 Christians, with Borno faring a little better with 7 Muslims and Six Christians. There have been many cases of Christians given slots in Jigawa, Katsina, Zamfara and even Sokoto, but you will never, find a Muslim name in Benue, South East and South South.
This is a very serious issue that must be remedied, because the series of religious/ethnic crises are further compounded by the disproportionate representation of Muslims in the SSS, the Police and the Armed Forces. For example, the authoritative Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a damming report on the last major religious crisis in Jos, indicted the Mobile Police for singling out Muslims for massacre. It cited more than a dozen incidents in which mainly Muslims were rounded up and gunned down. In one incident, 44 Muslims were shot in firing squad style.
It also listed seven separate incidents of arbitrary killings in which 47 Muslims were shot by Military men. Of Course, the HRW appeal for a probe of the Mobile Police was disregarded. Their report concluded with the recommendation,:- The HRW reported concluded that -
“The probe of the Mobile Police should go beyond its role in the Jos crisis to unearth its recruitment policy, numerical strength and the religious affiliations of its officers and men”. It added that –
“Unless the roles played by the Mobile Police and fake (sic CAN) soldiers are properly investigated and the finding made public, other groups are likely to adopt similar methods in the nearest future”.
Earlier on, the then Police Commissioner in Kaduna State, Alhaji Mohammed Shehu, observed after the 2000 major religious crises, observed that unless the composition of the Police Force, which then was 80% Christians in Kaduna State was re-constituted, there would be no end to religious crises (page 24 New Nigerian newspaper of Wednesday, 2nd August 2000).
We therefore urge the Federal Government, the Nigerian Police, the Armed Forces and the SSS and NIA to come clean on these injustices with satisfactory explanations and assurance of fair play and transparency. Government at all levels, especially the Federal Government should note that there can never be peace without justice and no people, however complacent, can accept such excesses, without reacting. And unless the Federal Government is determined to push Nigerian Muslims to that stage, we demand immediate, transparent remedial actions.
Fellow Nigerians and gentlemen of the Press, how many people would believe that in the 21st Century, and for almost 10years, 80 Muslim women and girls are still being held as “booty” (ganima) dehumanized as sex slaves by Christians in Plateau State, since the Yelwan Shendam massacre of Muslims in 2004. All efforts to get the appropriate authorities to take immediate steps to secure their release and re-union with their families have fell on deaf ears. Our Council had held series of meetings with 3 Inspectors General of Police, 3 Directors General of SSS and the NSA all of whom were given petitions on the matter. As at 2004, over 200 such Muslim women and girls were involved, the Council was successful in securing the freedom of about 120, all victims of forced labour, rapes and emotional trauma. If this barbaric act had affected Christians, the Federal Government, and its security agencies would have ruthlessly swung into action with an International Press awash with the news.
It is evident that CAN and the Federal Government are poised to undermine Islam, for at every turn, every right of Muslims according to their faith is being opposed with threats borne out of blind hatred. The ethical system of banking, universally embraces, was opposed by CAN, Nigeria’s membership into the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) was opposed for over 20years, until about Six years ago when the Obasanjo saw beyond religious bias, the benefits of joining IDB to the country. Still, the Governors of Oshun and Adamawa states are facing opposition in their plans to secure interest free long term developmental loans from the IDB, for no reasons other than irrational prejudice against anything Islamic. Christians, on the other hand, are not only free to practice every aspect of their faith, but can even pick and incorporate aspects of the Islamic faith convenient for them with the support of the Government; the annual trips on government sponsorship to Egypt, Israel and Rome in the name of pilgrimage, is an example.
In conclusion, while we call on Muslims to meticulously stick to the teachings of Islam on Peace, Justice, Compassion and truthfulness, we all know that everything human has a limit. The fact is the patience of Muslims who have been systematically brutalized, stigmatized, marginalized and pauperized , been severely tested and overstretched. We therefore call on all people of conscience to stand up for the truth against such glaring injustices, otherwise we all know it is a fact of life that every act has a consequence, good or bad. We therefore want the Federal Government to know that it is no longer acceptable for the rights of Muslims to be abridged or annulled, while Christians in Nigeria have an unfettered right to do as they wish.
DR. Ibrahim Datti Ahmad, OFR Nafiu Baba-Ahmad, mni
+234 80 2315 4021.