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Dr Ahmad Abubakar Gumi joined the Army and rose to the rank of major. Afterwards, he retired and proceeded to Saudi Arabia to study Islamic Studies up to doctorate degree. In this interview with New Telegraphs IBRAHEEM MUSA, the Islamic scholar spoke on the genesis of the Shiite Islamic sect, their activities in the last 40 years and the recent bloody clash between the sect and soldiers in Zaria.
There is a news item which has gone viral on the internet, where you reportedly condemned the actions of soldiers over their recent clash with members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, otherwise known as the Shiites. Did the story emanate from you?
I have never said or written anything like that. In fact, on the contrary, what happened to Ibraheem El Zakzaky and his people was a divine intervention and punishment.
Nobody can exactly explain how the incident happened, like lightening and with the magnitude of an earthquake. Not even the soldiers that were involved can explain to you what happened.
Not even El Zakzaky that woke up that morning thought that such thing could happen. Not even the President or the governor was doing anything in anticipation of what happened. I can only say that this is divine. I have been for many years, telling them that in Islamic jurisprudence, when you are killed by the authorities, then your blood has been spilt uselessly. But Islam forbids sects fighting or killing each other. But if the killing is done by constituted authority, then you have no argument, for it is given power to maintain peace and order no matter what it costs. So, I have been warning the Shiites for so many years.
Exactly a year before the last incident, I wrote a letter to their leader, saying that there is a prescribed manner by which his followers should conduct themselves in public. In Islam, you cannot force anyone to believe in anything; you cannot enforce any creed or religion on people. But you should do your acts of worship without harming other people.
I gave them this advice when I saw them blocking roads and punishing innocent, ignorant Nigerians by bringing them out in these hard times, to trek distances with their children to Zaria. By so doing, they blocked roads which is a big abomination in Islam.
The life of somebody may be at stake and you block the road where he or she will get succour. A woman can be in a dire medical need and she is being rushed to the hospital. Somebody may have an urgent trip to make. Then you block the road, for what? No religion on earth says that you should block road or that you should undertake such a long trek with your family, all in the name of worship.
But don’t you think that the army overreacted by killing over 300 people for just blocking the road when the Chief of Army Staff was being expected at the Nigerian Military Depot, Zaria?
Blocking the road was just the tip of the iceberg. You don’t know what else transpired and that is why there is a need for an investigation which government has promised.
The Shiites have been embarking on military training, producing cadets and soldiers. They were operating a state within a state. The Islamic Movement of Nigeria does not recognise the corporate entity of Nigeria. The group is not registered. They operate above the law and they get direct foreign aid.
The late President Umaru Yar’adua told me that there was a massive importation of ammunitions and weapons. He mentioned the South-South, where some of the militants surrendered their arms following the amnesty programme, then you have the North-East, just before this Boko Haram became so serious.
And he said that in the North-West, Iran has been supplying things to Shittes. So, I see the clash between them and the army as a divine intervention to prevent us from a catastrophe like that of Boko Haram. It came suddenly and powerfully to eradicate and uproot any plan that they had to harm the society.
Why are you justifying the military action against the Shiites?
It is not a matter of justification. It has happened. And pre-destination is part of the article of faith in Islam. It has been decreed and it has happened. So, I’m not justifying but explaining what happened.
How it happened and why it took that dimension is another study for those who are probing the matter. But do you think that the army was justified to raze down the home of Zakzaky and his Hussainiyya Centre just because his people blocked the Army Chief from passing through Sokoto road in Zaria?
You are just looking at the symptom rather than the disease. A cancer that is afflicting a patient may appear as a scratch on the skin. So, if that kind of patient goes to the hospital with that scratch, you will think that he will be given an ointment and asked to go home.
Then you hear that he is in the theatre. Don’t forget that Zakzaky created a state within a state. And the Army has been fighting Boko Haram. This Chief of Army Staff was ambushed by Boko Haram. With this psyche, his guards are battle ready coming out of the battle field and they suddenly saw the same scenario, what do you expect?
I have been one of the most vocal critics during the Goodluck Jonathan administration that they should remove the Army from cities because the Army is just trained to take away life on orders. So, they are not suitable for internal security. So, coming to argue with people with this kind of mentality, when the Army has a file of all your secret dealings, then you trigger them when you yourself are not ready Wallahi it was just Allah that made what happened to happen. No sensible person will block the way of a fighting Army.
Doesn’t El Zakzaky have brains? How can his people block the Army? Even if your house is blocking their firing range, you should desert it and let them finish the enemy. Then, you become the stumbling block?