While scrolling through my timeline, after reading the infamous memo of Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa, the headline above caught my eye and I decided to read it. It was a headline posted by Daniel on April 22, 2014 on their website www.informationng.org. The opening statement was,
‘National chairman of Jama’atul Izalatil Bid’ah Wa’iqamatus Sunnah (JIBWIS), Sheik Abdullahi Bala Lau, has raised an alarm that most of the killings in the Northern part of the country was aimed at destroying Muslims in the region. He made this known at a press briefing organised by JIBWIS in Katsina on Monday’. Now, Monday was the 21st of April, 2014. I took my time to give the background information about this because I don’t want to be misconstrued or deliberately taken out of context. If possible, I will urge anyone who wants to read this post to also read the article as quoted above.
A Sheik is a Muslim Cleric who is well respected and viewed as a cynosure of knowledge, especially about the Qur’an and the Hadiths. He is one who leads his people in the dictates of his religion, teaching them the principles of it. He is also one who is listened to regarding all issues. In essence, a Sheik is expected to speak words with all care, for his words carry power. Maybe Sheik Lau forgot just how much power he has, or how volatile religious sentimentality is, especially in Northern Nigeria.
I do not know much about the Qur’an but I’m guessing there is no place in it where Muslims are allowed to kill Muslims. If that assumption is right, by inferring that Muslims are the targets of the insurgency, he is in essence saying the insurgents have to be non-Muslims, which translates to Christians and pagans. He went further to say (and I quote), ‘According to him, the Boko Haram insurgency was a thing of the past and the present situation was part of the malicious conspiracy to eradicate Muslims across the country’. Now, if I’m a Muslim, I will begin to fortify myself in defense, getting ready to prevent the eradication of my brothers and myself. Permit me to say this, but I feel that was where the Sheik was heading. Now he said Muslims have to fast and pray but I’m pretty sure most Muslims stopped reading at ‘eradicating Muslims’.
I remember when churches took the brunt of the attacks, with bombs going off week in and week out in Borno, Yobe, Kaduna etc. And when bombs were not going off, armed men were attacking churches and slaughtering worshiping Christians. The attacks on churches have not stopped. Yet, the Sheik said the attacks were targeted at Muslims. Do Muslims worship in churches? Do Muslims own churches? I didn’t hear any outcry from said Sheik when Christians were killed weekly. Now that the insurgents are showing no more discrimination, killing all and sundry, we are hearing alarms raised. But if we are to follow the Sheik’s words, there is no such thing as Boko Haram, but a malicious group aimed at killing Muslims.
If you read further, you will see where he said even the Christian Association Of Nigeria (CAN) has stopped blaming the killings on Muslims, adding that the government is hiding under the umbrella of Boko Haram to kill innocent Muslims. Is it a coincidence that the present government is headed by a Christian? Is it then okay for us to say that the Sheik feels Christians are maliciously attacking Muslims in a bid to eradicating them? When religious leaders manipulate their charge towards violence, where then do we run to? Nigeria is too volatile to have leaders make such utterances. Such statements will in no way foster any form of unity. Add that to Nyako’s memo and you will realize that the Northern leaders seem to be prepping Muslims for a grand showdown.
I’ve Muslim friends who will shrug off the Sheik’s utterances because they care about humanity and nationalism first, but there are those who have no better understanding. I worry about the state of the North. I’m a Northern Christian and I feel like this region is going to get really in-conducive with the way things are going. Can we have other Muslim leaders come out and foster unity? Can prominent Northerners come out and speak for oneness as Muhammadu Buhari did on the 22nd of April? It is a thing of sadness to see people who ought to know better, act otherwise.
Until we know that God created the human race first, we will keep allowing little things like religious differences separate us.