Twin Tragedy in Kaduna State

There is a twin tragedy going on in Kaduna state of Nigeria. The first is the ongoing on and off slaughter of the Shiites and killing of southern Kaduna Christians. The Shiites are non-Sunni Muslim. Both sects believes that Mohammed who founded Islamic religion in the seventh century is the true prophet of God. So, there is no disagreement there. However, the two sects differs on who is the true successor of Mohammed. The Sunni branch believes that the first four caliphs who succeeded Mohammed are the legitimate religious leaders. Shiites on the other hand believes that only the heirs of the fourth caliph, Ali are the legitimate successors of Mohammed. Shiites lives in all parts of the middle east but are concentrated in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon. They have historically felt discriminated against by the Sunni majority.

The second group in Kaduna state that have and continues to suffer discrimination and killings are Christians who are concentrated in the southern part of Kaduna state. The killings are ethno-religious. Sunni herdsmen are doing most of the killings. They kill and maim whoever questions their authority to graze on any land even private properties that does not belong to them. They have no qualms in killing Christians after all they are infidels (nonbelievers) who will go to hell anyway. They have also killed a lot of other Christians in other parts of Nigeria. The most surprising part of these wanton killings and slaughter of their fellow citizens is the impunity the perpetrators display after their barbaric acts. Worse is that they do not seem to pay any price. Nigerians have not seen mass arrests and prosecution of the perpetrators by the state or federal government.

The Leader of the Shiite religion in Nigeria, Mr. El Zakzaky is in federal custody and nobody knows his condition. He was arrested after a brutal massacre of his members by the Nigeria military after alleging that the Shiites attempted to kill Nigeria army of chief of staff during his visit to Kaduna. The way Shiites are treated by the Sunni majority leaves much to be desired. Any mistakes by Shiites are followed by brutal crackdown and killings because the Sunni majority looks at them with suspicion and fear, even though they have not openly or overtly declared war on the federal or Kaduna state government, unlike Boko Haram sect who are Sunni muslims. The Sunni appears to look at Shiites as potential terrorist. It is true that Shiites history of violence in the middle east is well documented. There is no question that Shiites in Nigeria are one group the federal government should keep an eye on, but they should be given the benefit of doubt like any other religious organization irrespective of the anarchy their brethrens have caused around the world.

The problem we have in Kaduna states is that the governor of Kaduna state, Mr. Nasir El Rufai who is Sunni is not helping the situation. He appears to so biased against the Shiites to the point that most Shiites have lost confidence in his ability to manage the situation or carry out impartial inquiry. They think he is basically doing everything he can to portray them as potential terrorist in-order to justify the killings that have taken place. Southern Kaduna Christians have always felt besieged by their Muslim neighbors. They face discrimination daily and they do what they can to resist the unjust treatment meted out to them by the majority. Kaduna state government or the federal government are not doing what they can to stop the killings.

Nigeria state cannot survive as a nation if any state or the federal government cannot demonstrate to the whole population that Nigeria belongs to every Nigerian by taking decisive action against any group who take up arm against other Nigerians. The destruction of life and properties in Kaduna must stop. The federal government must step in. The Shiites does not trust the governor of Kaduna state, Mallam El- Rufai and neither do large segment of the Christian population.

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