Although Muslims leaders in Nigeria (including the Sultan of Sokoto and MURIC) have decided not to intervene in the Federal Government Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN)/Shiites crisis. I’m of the candid opinion that the crisis has reach a monumental proportion that there is definite and immediate need for intervention. It’s very true that most Muslims do not consider the Shiites as “True Muslims” but this to me is immaterial at this time considering the number of lives lost and those being lost almost on daily basis recently especially in Abuja. Looking at the crisis from an unbiased point of view both the Shiites and the Government have their own share of complicity in the lingering crisis.


First and very important is for the Shiites to realise that they do not enjoy an atom of support from Muslims communities that they live with in all towns across Northern Nigeria. This is principally due to the inconveniences they subject fellow Muslims and other citizens of Nigeria when ever they embark on processions/long trekking they called “tattaki”.


The fact that most Muslims scholars of Sunni extraction are of the firm opinion that this long trekking do not have any basis in Quran and sunna (teachings) of the holy prophet is a matter of another discussion. What is important to this discourse is the fact that no group of people have the right to monopolize public roads for their use to the extent that they inconvenience citizens with regards to their right of unhindered movement in going about their legitimate businesses.


It is very important for the Shiites to realise that no responsible government will fold it arms and allow any group or association to willingly annihilate the right of citizens to free movement. It will be wise if the Shiites realise this fact and more importantly realise that even though there are fundamental differences between them and other Sunni Muslims in terms of their belief with regards to the core principles of the Islamic Religion, they need to change their mode of operation in manner that the dominant Sunni Muslims offer them minimum support in their trying and difficult times. They can only achieve this if they stop forthwith their usual procession that completely blocked roads that not only inconvenience citizens and commuters but bring socio-economic activities to complete halt.


The Government (its immaterial to me whether it is the Federal Government or Kaduna state government) do not also handle the legal aspect to the crisis very well. It is a statement of fact that a court of competent jurisdiction have granted bail to the leader od Shiites, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and also rule for compensation of 50 Million Naira in his favour but the Government blatantly refused to obey the court orders claiming to be holding him in “protective custody “.Another critical mistake the Government made in handling he crisis is the delay in appealing the ruling of the court that was clearly in favour of El-Zakzaky and his Wife.


Most Nigerians and legal experts are of the firm opinion that if the Government have appeal the judgement in good time and convicted El- Zakzaky of his offences this series of crisis could have been averted. However, a very worrying dimension to the crisis between Shiites and Government is the incessant loss of lives of both Shiites (especially) and Security forces which have lingered for almost 3 years.


This loss of lives of citizens of Nigeria which has worsened over the last one week in Abuja is the major concern of most Nigerians and hence the reason for this write up. I strongly believe the time has come for the sultan of Sokoto and President of the supreme council of Islamic Affairs to demonstrate leadership and negotiate a political solution between the Government and Shiites to prevent further escalation of the crisis and the needless loss of lives and properties of Nigerian citizens. Other respected religious and opinion leaders from northern Nigeria need to support HIS Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto to achieve this much needed political solution.


They need to do this urgently for the sake of humanity even though majority of Muslims do not consider the Shiites as true Muslim faithfuls. It is the strong opinion of most Nigerians that only political solution will bring an end to this lingering and dangerous crisis that has the potential of plunging our country to another round of insurgency if not adequately and timely addressed. The use of force by security forces to suppress continued agitations for the release of Sheikh El- Zakzaky and his wife will never bring and end to this needless cycle of violence.


Dr Mijinyawa Bashir{[email protected]} is a Consultant Physician and Public commentator


He can be followed on @mijinyawabashir



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