By Dauda Nalado, Phd
The ‘Arbaeen’, which is on 20th Safar of each calendar year, is a very important date to Muslims, especially the Shiah, the world over. It is a symbol of commemorating 40 days of the martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS), the grandson of the Prophet (SAAW) through a symbolic trek to Karbala from different locations.
This practice found its root in the tradition of renowned companion of the Prophet, Jabir bn Abdullahi Al-ansary (RA).
The trek has become famous in Nigeria. Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria under the leadership of his Eminence Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky (H) embark upon it annually. Different Joint meeting centers were established where Arbaeen mourners will meet and commence the symbolic trek to Zaria. Kano is one of these designated centers.
The idea of trekking to mark or celebrate an event is not alien or new after all. Several people trekked much longer distances to celebrate the victory of President Buhari. We see ours as a religious duty. In a democratic Nigeria, where the rule of law shall hold, we should be allowed to exercise our rights to worship, freedom of association and conscience.
Unfortunately, this administration, as if not satisfied with the Zaria massacre of December 2015 where they killed close to one thousand Nigerians and their bodies dumped in mass graves and the blood they spilled during Ashura in various States, plotted against the trek, thus infringing upon our rights. Despite the fact that the plot was leaked and exposed, they acted with impunity. On the fateful Monday 14th November 2016, combined forces and the police, used live ammunition and attacked the peaceful trekkers from Kano center without any provocation. Not less than 100 Nigerian citizens including pregnant women, children and babies were murdered in cold blood and their corpses carted away to unknown locations.
An 8- months old baby Zainab was among the massacred victims. Scores of men women and the under aged were injured. In a desperate bid to cover up their crime against humanity, the Police sponsored media outlets which spread lies and false propaganda that the Arbaeen mourners "attacked Police and motorists". The IGP even lied blatantly by saying that the peaceful trekkers, consisting of students, pregnant and baby- nursing mothers, were ‘armed to the teeth’. How can such people attack heavily-armed Police? To add salt to injury, the Police arrested and subsequently masterminded keeping of nearly 50 victims, who are in critical conditions, under prison custody. They mischievously alleged that the armless victims shot a policeman and
killed him, thus inserting the culpable homicide clause in the prosecution in order to frustrate legal efforts at gaining the freedom of the oppressed. The police must have been shot by his colleague at arm.
We demand justice. Justice delayed is justice denied. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. People of conscience should speak to condemn these gross atrocities. We demand the government to obey court order and release Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife Malama Zeenatu immediately and unconditionally. We demand the release of our oppressed arbaeen victims languishing in Kano Central Prison. We demand that the culprits of the Kano arbaeen mass murder, especially the State commissioner of Police, be brought to justice. We register our heartfelt condolences to the families of Nigerians murdered by the Nigerian government executed by the Kano State police command in the
Arbaeen massacre. God bless the souls of the Martyrs, heal all those injured and hasten the freedom of those incarcerated in the prisons.