Between El Zakzaky, Nnamdi Kanu And Fulani Herdsmen:  Buhari’s Double Standards Of Justice – By Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu


If the law was designed to function on selection and double standards, the essential ingredient of justice would be removed and a state of injustice and anarchy would prevail— this as we all know would serve no purpose other than to grow the already existing sense of alienation, injustice, dissent and rebellion in our society. Anyone who has closely watched Buhari’s administration would have noticed two things: Firstly Nigeria is effectively back to 1984 when Buhari’s military junta lacking any finesse or civilised ethos rode roughshod on the nation as it serially violated human rights and secondly like 1984, Buhari has once again made himself the judge, jury and prosecutor who decides not only who is guilty and who is not but also who should be prosecuted/persecuted and who should not according to his biases and without any due process of law. This blatant double standard now permeates the land and is very obvious from the way Buhari has handled the Shiite Muslims and their leader El Zakzaky, Nnamdi Kanu and pro Biafra protesters as against Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram terrorists.


More than 80 percent of Nigerian Muslims belong to the Sunni block while the Islamic movement of Nigeria (IMN) headed by El Zakzaky represent the minority Shiite Muslims. Not surprisingly, the sectarian divisions between the two in the middle East has been effectively  imported to Nigeria which underscores the persecution the IMN being the minority has often faced. Thus when in December 2015 the Shiites were attacked by the Nigerian Army in Zaria, it came as no surprise. What was surprising was the scale of the attack, the casualties and the response of President Buhari who incidentally is a Sunni Muslim. As reported, the Shiites were holding a peaceful procession and protest along a route through which the chief of Army staff Lt General Buratai and his entourage was passing.  From the many videos of the event that since surfaced—the protesters were neither armed nor violent. They only mounted a noisy protest and temporarily blocked the road. While protests are always quite disruptive, it is however allowed in any normal clime or democracy insofar as it is non-violent.


In instances where such protests have to be cleared, the security services usually employ civil means such as water cannons and in extreme cases tear gas to disperse the protesters. But in Nigeria it seems that merely blocking a road through which the chief of army staff is passing is enough to sentence thousands to death without trial. And so the next day, truck loads of Nigerian soldiers characteristically invaded the residence of the IMN and murdered an estimated 700 adherents. Some estimates put the casualties as much as 1000. The leader of the movement El Zakzaky was arrested and has for more than four months been detained without trial in violation of the Nigerian constitution. For those who harboured any doubts about Buhari’s acquiescence to the Shiite massacre, his media chat on 30th December 2015 dispelled those doubts  as Buhari himself shockingly justified the killings to a global audience on the flimsy grounds that the protesters  blocked the road and were challenging army generals.


The same is true of Nnamdi Kanu, the proprietor of Radio Biafra—a non violent self determination group who since October 2015 has remained in extra-judicial detention owing to the federal government’s refusal to release him as ordered by several courts. On account of his detention, thousands of protesters in Nigeria and around the world have braved the odds to protest his unlawful detention. The protests have been remarkably peaceful but again the response of the Nigerian Army has been to kill peaceful protesters. The most macabre being the Aba massacre where scores of pro-Biafra protesters who were holding prayers in a school premises were murdered in cold blood by the Nigerian army and yet Nigeria is supposed to be a democracy in an administration that promised change. When again Buhari had an opportunity in the Aljazeera interview to condemn the killing of peaceful  protesters, not only did he refuse to watch the video he again remorselessly supported the barbaric and unlawful murder of peaceful protesters while vowing never to hold any dialogue with them in view of addressing their grievances as should be done in a democracy.


This is the same Buhari who during his media chat in December told the world he is willing to hold unconditional dialogue with Boko Haram that has killed over 25,000, maimed countless others and displaced an estimated two million people. Not only is there no single Boko Haram terrorist facing trial  in Buhari’s Nigeria, those that are in detention are quietly being released while Nnamdi Kanu that has never hurt a fly is facing trial for treason and  members of his non-violent group are being murdered for holding peaceful protests. How about Fulani herdsmen who have been causing havoc across Nigeria? Just recently over 300 people were murdered and their village razed down by Fulani herdsmen in Agatu Benue state. This is coming on the heels of similar massacres by herdsmen across many communities in the North central, South west, South east and South south. It took Buhari more than a week to comment on the Agatu massacre, vaguely promising to set-up an enquiry that was never set-up. To date, not a single Fulani herdsman has been arrested—rather the herdsmen protected ironically by the police have been busy holding press conferences justifying the Agatu massacre and other such killings.


Instead of arresting and prosecuting those who committed such gruesome murders, what we hear from the authorities is either that they will import grass from Brazil to create ranches for the Fulani herdsmen or that they are organising a peace meeting between the herdsmen and  the affected communities. In Buhari’s Nigeria, peace meetings are now the only consequence for committing mass murder. The same Buhari that was so willing to justify the killing of non-violent Shiite protesters, the detention without trial of El Zakzaky and likewise the killing of non-violent pro-Biafra protesters and extra judicial detention and prosecution of Nnamdi Kanu on trumped up treason charges can neither condemn, arrest nor prosecute a single herdsman in spite of killing hundreds of people and destroying property because they are from the same Fulani and Sunni Muslim stock. Nothing destroys a nation more than a leader who brazenly exhibits injustice and double standards in dealing with different segments of the society.


It’s obvious the only reason the Shiites and Biafran adherents are being persecuted is because of what they believe in and where they come from. By displaying such blatant double standards in punishing those with less to no crime but sparing and even placating those who committed heinous crimes according to his biases, Buhari has demonstrated that he is a sectional and deeply unjust president who is incapable of doing justice and of leading the nation. Nigeria has effectively returned to 1984; a dark era that like now was embedded in deep injustices, impunity, double standards, sectionalism, nepotism, human rights violations and outright wickedness. This definitely is no change.


Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu





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