Northern Governors Hold Emergency Meeting Over Army–Shi’ite Clash
Following the Zaria’s clash between members of the Nigerian Army and the Islamic movement in Nigeria, Shi’ite, the Kaduna state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has said the leader of the group, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, shall be prosecuted if found guilty of any criminal charges according to the provision of the Nigerian laws.
Governor El-Rufai made this known, while responding to a question immediately after Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State-cum chairman of the Northern Governors Forum (NGF) had finished reading a communiqué at the end of an emergency meeting convened by the Forum in Kaduna, Saturday.
He said a judicial commission of inquiry was established by the state to investigate what caused the incident; as such, anyone found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly.
While reading the communiqué, chairman of the Forum, Kashim Shettima, called on all Nigerians, irrespective of cultural or religious affiliation, to respect constituted authority and operate within the confines of the laws; adding that the 19 northern governors have banned unauthorized processions within the region without obtaining a police permit, as prescribed by the law.
He said, “We frowned at arbitrary blockage of highways through unauthorized processions causing inconveniences to other citizens. The northern governors, therefore, resolved that henceforth processions must necessarily be with Police permit and protection as prescribed by the law.
They however commended the effort of the Kaduna State governor in containing the situation when it happened and his decision to constitute a commission of inquiry to examine the remote and immediate causes of the Zaria incident; while assuring citizens of its readiness to maintain law and order, respecting their constitutional rights to practice their faith in a manner that does not infringe on the rights of others.
The group further called on Nigerians, irrespective of differences in political affiliations, religious persuasions, sectional or ethnic background, to coalesce into a single unit and collectively fight the region’s common tragedies of poverty, destitution, and illiteracy. “The problem confronting us goes beyond politics. We should unite to fight our common challenges,” he added.
The chairman also appealed to the media to exercise caution, while reporting, so as to avoid stoking embers of intolerance and division in the country.
The Forum further condoled the State Government and families of those who lost their lives in the tragedy, and wished the wounded speedy recovery.
Earlier in his opening briefing, chairman of the Forum, Kashim Shettima, said they converged in Kaduna to intervene because the issue at stake has to do with an Islamic group that has membership across the 19 states in the North and beyond.
He said the Forum would want to look at how to ensure that the incident does not provide room for anyone or group to perpetuate violence in any of the 19 northern states.
According to him, “We already have the serious problems of Boko Haram to contend with. We are not in any way comparing the Islamic Movement with Boko Haram, No. But we don’t want the same mistake that happened over the Boko Haram crisis to repeat itself.
“When Boko Haram went wild in July 2009 with clashes between them and the police in Bauchi on 25th and 26th in Maiduguri, most Nigerians saw the issues as the problems of Bauchi and Borno.
“When they continued to attack Borno and Yobe, it became the affairs of Borno and Yobe states. All of a sudden, there was suicide attack in Abuja in 2012 and then everything went out of control and we are where are today.
“So, like I said, we do not make any comparison between the murderously violent Boko Haram insurgents and the Islamic Movement but we are here to analyse and ensure that we take measures that will close any avenue, which some people may want to seize to create violence in the immediate or long run. Moreover, Kaduna is the socio-political heart of the northern Nigeria.”
Governors present at the occasion include Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto, Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari of Zamfara, Idris Wada of Kogi, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa, Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina and Kashim Shettima of Borno state, among others.