Zakzaky fault line.

Just recently disciples of Ibrahim Yaqoub El Zakzaky A.K.A El Zakzaky protested – for the freedom of their leader/father/figurehead and were met with lethal opposition at the hands of the Nigerian security agents.
And trust a lot of people have weighed in, the thoughts usually come down to |they Sh’ia are inherently violent or are known to be violent, they are always protesting, their leader is evil so the disciples are fighting to free an evil man, a bunch of fanatical Muslims…
People who say this may actually believe it because they are ignorant of history and do not have a good picture of the manifestation of what is playing out, or just intentionally prejudiced and so have to believe all the false premises.
From day 1 of Nigeria forming there have been fault lines that were never addressed, think of building a house with a shaky foundation and instead of going to the base to attempt to fix the root cause, you instead fast track building more stories/floors on that foundation! The question of what Nigeria is has no clear answer, ethnic fault lines, religious lines, the question of whether it is a secular country.
El Zakzaky is very important to the Shia Muslims – he founded the Islamic Movement when he was in A.B.U back in the late ’70s. He is intelligent and well-schooled in Islam – he studied economics in A.B.U was on track to graduate with a first class but that did not happen because of his ‘radicalism’. He never went to an english primary/secondary school but excelled in exams set in english! He was and is a big critic of government – we should recall that he was a radical in a military government, he and his followers defied the military government of that time – dared the military forces to come confront them because death is a price they are willing to pay for their ‘freedom & rights’.

Can you use violence to swat someone who welcomes death?

Here is what someone (Mohammed Ammen) had said back then

“If the leader of the Islamic movement in Nigeria, Malam Zakzaky, gives an order now for the Muslims of this state to go and bring Governor Madaki to this house, I assure you that in no time he will be brought here”

They had legitimate issues with the government that is still legitimate today but now add years of repression and aggressive tactics from the government. How can someone given his experience from university and government not be against the whole system?
He is important to his followers he educates and takes care of them, he has lots of tapes that outline the problems with government and those problems speak to the secular and religious fault lines of the nation, because they believe their religion, culture, and laws are being washed away – like it or not they have this legitimate gripe. He is probably the most educated of his group now so no wonder he is such a beacon for them plus he has ‘credibility’ having been arrested a lot of times and lost 6 of his 9 children! Yes, 6 of his children were killed during clashes with the government.

The government believes he is a threat [he opposes policies], they say he wants to overthrow the government [protesting], threatens peace and stability [because he questions the status quo and points to fundamental issues]. The government still operates on a militaristic template – everything is met with force, repression, ban, decrees… now that we have a ‘civilian’ government one would imagine things to be different but that is not so. I think the government has developed a bad pattern of behaviors and cannot escape the loop, there is paranoia from the civil war, their mandate to keep one nation, they only know repressive tactics and the fear of an example and so they have to violently shut down protest & dehumanize protesters with verbal violence and hate literature and trust members of the society are always willing to help spread the ‘news’, this speaks partly to why we do not have a good protest culture in the country.

With the recent flare-up who is responsible or more responsible? The government has more power and all the backing a security agencies, to say the least, so they are more responsible but what we have is people blaming the I.M.N protesters – who are asking & have been asking for the freedom of their leader who the courts have asked the government to release and even ordered to pay compensation because the government was wrong in the eyes of the law to have arrested and detained El Zakzaky and his wife. If there is a crisis in a family is the parent more responsible or the child, for the outcome of events?
We should empathize and not dehumanize after all the critique El Zakzaky has is legitimate and I am sure in line with what non-muslims have in terms of the fault line issues. The methods used against him will be used against anyone that brings similar criticisms forward, make no mistake about that. It is the government VS all of us [that will have fundamental criticisms].

RE: Nigeria’s difficult path to long lasting peace with Boko Haram

Each time these guys speak we have more questions than answers e.g NNPC.. but that is not the confusion this moment.

Lai Mohammed published an OPINION piece on Aljazeera the other day, the piece seems clear, the rhetoric begs you to ask questions. I will try to comment on a few paragraphs in a moment, I wonder what the motivation was for publishing this though, I really wonder. Maybe this is a subtle hint he is passing to ALL.

In the second paragraph, he says Boko Haram (BH) occupied an area three times the size of Lebanon, I do not know if this is exaggerated, we can try to test this claim, however (ultimately citizens of Borno can call this accurately).

Lebanon is approx 10,452 (sq.Km)

3 times is 31, 356 (sq.Km)

what does this mean? For context consider some Northern Nigerian states;

Borno (second largest state, origin of BH) = 57,799 (sq.Km)

Adamawa = 36,917 (sq.Km)

Gombe = 20,265 (sq.Km)

Bauchi = 49,119 (sq.Km)

Kano = 20,131 (sq.Km)

Yobe = 45,502 (sq.Km)

Katsina = 24,192 (sq.Km)

Kebbi = 36,800 (sq.Km)

So BH controlled land sizes larger than either of Gombe, Kano, Katsina, do you believe this? And in a few years, they say they have chased BH to Sambisa forest (size ~686 sq.Km), consider the type of overt fighting that would have had to happen for BH to have lost 30, 670 (sq.Km) at least without hostages (schoolgirls and others) been killed in large numbers… I think it is an exaggerated claim – politics! Or did they metamorphose into ‘herdsmen’? At least this is one way to explain the ‘defeat’ of BH and the emergence of herdsmen.

Paragraph 9 -12;

And with these gains, the government has a chance to overturn the economic marginalisation that gave Boko Haram an audience. Only last month, the administration and a General Electric-led consortium signed an agreement to begin revamping Nigeria’s dilapidated rail network – of which Maiduguri to Port Harcourt forms one of its two main lines. This shall bring jobs and opportunity to the region, increase trade between the north and south, and ensure the bounty of the nation is shared by all. No longer shall the vulnerable be seduced by false solutions to their hardship.

At the same time, all channels remain open to end the final remnants of violence. The administration holds out its hand for negotiations with Boko Haram. Even amnesty for rebel fighters, if certain conditions are met, must remain a possibility.

Already, former insurgents who have voluntary surrendered, and deemed not a threat, have been rehabilitated and reintroduced into society. Indeed, some will be guilty of crimes. But Nigeria remains a place where a second chance is granted to those who cast out the poison of their indoctrination. The government is giving these Boko Haram members a way out. 

That this may be morally repugnant to some is understandable. Barbarism is difficult to encounter and allow to walk free. Sometimes, though, the past must kneel before the future. From the IRA in Ireland to FARC in Columbia, this is what conflict resolution around the globe has taught us. We cannot change what has happened, only what is yet to come.

9 – he implies that economic marginalization (read: bounty of the nation) is the root cause for the insurgency, isn’t the cause religious fundamentalism? If you say kidnapping and ransoming of school kids is proof, well how do you explain the killings/attacks on religious buildings and people? and random raids that do not result in financial gains? This paragraph sounds like he wants to ease us into something, so as to appeal to our emotions with the economic hardship/bounty of the nation line.

10 / 11 – Are we being eased into agreeing to offer amnesty? I do not know if we have a policy to deal with terrorist networks ( history says our policy is to negotiate and offer amnesty). We can judge for ourselves if this policy is sustainable and weigh that in addition to the results we have achieved from granting amnesty in the past and how government transition affects it. We can ask questions about this approach, we should ask.  What conditions are to be met for granting amnesty? What is the case for granting a religious fanatic amnesty?-it is not like they are asking for quite legitimate things (like Niger militants or IPOB) -and no THIS IS NOT A CASE FOR EITHER. How do you rehabilitate such a person for real? how do you integrate them into society? and in which society? How do you decide which ones should answer for crimes and which ones should go free? Will the next government carry on with this arrangement? He says they have granted amnesty to former insurgents, oh really? when? where are they now? who are they? how many? what conditions did they fulfill? What information did you get from them?

12 – The IRA and FARC were factions of civil wars… there is more to their story though, these groups would have more in common with BIAFRA. Or is the case that members of BH are freedom fighters? Sigh!

Present-day Borno state, the former heart of the insurgency, speaks to this purpose. Despite Boko Haram no longer controlling any local government areas, isolated attacks still occur. Fighters emerge from hideouts deep in the forest of Lake Chad to strike. Innocent Muslims, Christians and schoolchildren are often the targets of these acts of cowardice and desperation. Liberation of territory and degradation of the enemy is not enough. We must stop every incident.

13 – From the above, you can see how that economic marginalization argument doesn’t pass muster. At this point lets factor in the 3 times Lebanon size, what you will find is BH must have controlled over 54% of Borno state! Really? So more than half the state? Fighters from deep in the forest of lake chad – which is over 8hrs away by road (checkpoint, toll route and ferry included), to strike and then head back the same rugged 8hrs again to Chad only to return another ‘random’ time, do you buy this?

14 –  He tells us or implies that these attacks are here to stay and that only BH NOT THE GOVERNMENT can guarantee peace.

However, nowhere in the world can these types of attacks be indefinitely prevented, unless the group in question surrender. Terror can strike anywhere. Sadly, the streets of London, Paris and New York, nations whose security capacities outstrip that of my nation, bear testimony to this truth. In Nigeria, we remain vigilant to intercept and prevent these assaults. But a final guarantor of peace will be Boko Haram’s formal renunciation of violence in both speech and deed.

I do not like how he uses these false equivalences with London, Paris and New York, those cities are dealing with blowback effects of foreign policy decisions their government made, which foreign policy decision did Nigeria make to have BH existing? After all, they are Borno citizens that feel economically marginalized. SMH.

Terror attacks can happen – yes, can they be prevented? Well it depends on the type of terrorism, we can classify 3 levels;

  1. State-Sponsored ( eg Hezbollah)
  2. Splinter group (eg BH)
  3. Individual (anybody)

With 1 & 2 addressing the root cause, throttling funding (plus other actions) cripples them, the one that cannot be helped is 3, what Nigeria has is 2 (supposedly the sponsor(s) of BH is/are known) so saying we should live with such terror is just remarkable. And you are saying folks should go back to their normal life?

This Lai Mohammed’s article leaves me more confused than positively informed, I feel if you pull up all the nonfactual things you will realize that things do not add up and SOMETHING is wrong.

I will practice some optimism – maybe because he published in the opinion section we can afford to disregard his opinion.

Note: I do not know the motivation of BokoHaram or what they are asking from the government (it’s mostly unknown to regular people), I personally think there is religious fundamentalism involved, economic hardship, regional marginalization, unresolved grievance… It is a multifaceted issue.

My Point is that we receive Lai Mohammed’s piece with that necessary heavy dose of skepticism it deserves.