By Femi Fani-Kayode
When you take everything away from a man or a people, including their humanity, their loved ones, their land, their possessions, their faith, their God, their self-respect, their identity and their dignity and you put them and theirs under the fire and sword morning, day and night you cannot expect them not to voice their pain and not to scream and a shout.
And when the screaming and shouting goes unheeded, you cannot expect them not to hit back and attempt to break the yoke of torment, subjugation, tyranny and slavery.
No matter how powerful you are and how long you have been killing them and all that are theirs, one day they will rise up, pull you down from your giddy heights and cut open your throats.
If history teaches us nothing else, it teaches us this. The morale of the tale is as follows: mind how you insult and mock your victims and those that you treat with contempt, kill at will and hold in bondage because one day their time will come.
It is in this context that I view the shameful call by the Council of Imams for the arrest of the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Christian leaders in Southern Kaduna for asking the people to defend themselves from genocide.
The call is not only reckless and provocative but it is also self-seeking and dangerous. They must stop this nonsense.
The facts are as follows. 808 Christians were butchered on Christmas Eve and Christmas day by Fulani militia in Southern Kaduna. Not one of the butchers and bloodthirsty murderers have been identified, apprehended, killed or arrested since then by our security forces.
The Christians of Nigeria are still in mourning and the people of Southern Kaduna are still in trauma.
Yet, there have been no soothing words or expressions of regret, consolation or solidarity from any Sunni Muslim group in the country since the pogrom took place.
Only threats and insults from the Council of Imams. The only exceptions are the Shiite Muslims who have consistently expressed outrage about what is going on in Southern Kaduna and who have themselves also been subjected to mass murder and genocide in Kaduna state simply because they are not Sunnis.
You first butcher the flock and then you say that the shepherd dare not complain or attempt to protect those that are still left behind and alive. What type of monsters are these?
The Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs made matters worse by saying that those that killed 808 Christians in Southern Kaduna on Christmas eve and Christmas day were “unknown elements”.
Really? This, perhaps, is the biggest insult of all. It is rather like saying that those that perpetuated the holocaust against the Jews which resulted on the cold-blooded murder of 6 million Jews were “unknown elements”. It is insensitive and it is callous.
It represents the greatest perversion of truth and most bestial denial of decency and justice that Nigeria has witnessed in many years.
It is falsehood and perfidy, cooked up and served by a group of uncontrollable dark and evil men who believe that they can get away with anything and that they are a law into themselves.
Meanwhile, Miyetti Allah, an umbrella organisation that speaks for the Fulani herdsmen has said that the mass murder of Christians that took place in Southern Kaduna on Christmas eve and Christmas day were “reprisal” and “revenge” killings for the murder of their kith and kin by the Christians of Southern Kaduna in 201. Need we look any further for who the culprits are?
In his own contribution, the Minister of Internal Affairs, General Dambazzau, who is himself a Fulani Muslim, has roundly condemned CAN’s call on the Federal Government to do its job and protect the people of Southern Kaduna and their counsel to the Christians to defend themselves where and when the government fails to do so. I ask again, what type of monsters are these?
And why has our President refused to call them to order? Is it because he shares the same faith and comes from the same region as them? Is it because the President himself is not only a Muslim and a Fulani man but also the Life Patron of Miyetti Allah?
Professor Wole Soyinka provides profound insight into the matter. He said,
“Religion in the history of this continent has been a disastrous venture, a disaster in many zones and continues to be even so today. In this very nation in Southern Kaduna, over 800 souls were brutally extinguished suddenly. While the issue of grazing lands versus farming is unquestionably part of the conflict, it is equally undeniable that religious differences have played crucial role in the conflict. And yet some weeks before the latest outrage, the governor of that state was quoted to have claimed that peace was nigh since he had sent funds to the earlier wave of killers and they had agreed to end their killing spree.
“What astonished me was not the admission by the governor but the astonishment of others at such governmental response to atrocity. There was nothing new about it. Has appeasement to religious forces not become a Nigerian face of justice and equity? First, lethargy and then appeasement. Wasn’t Boko Haram’s Muhammed Yusuf not a beneficiary of appeasement in a similar fashion? Southern Kaduna has reminded us once again that the monster always lying waiting to pounce under the guise of religion. If you ask why General Buhari did not act fast enough when these events take place, which degrade us as human beings, well it is perhaps he has been waiting for the governor of that state to send money to the killers first for them to stop the killing.”
Whatever the reasons are for the indifference of our President and the callousness and insensitivity of the Council of Imams, the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, Miyetti Allah, Governor Nasir El Rufai, General Dambazzau and all those that support them, it would be wise for them to appreciate the fact that the patience of the rest of the country is fast running out and that they are set to provoke a chain of ugly events the end of which will not augur well for them or their cause.
Nothing reflects this better than the words of Bishop David Oyedepo of Winners Chapel, who is one of the most influential and powerful clerics in the country, when he said,
“Since when has it become a crime for Christians to say they can defend themselves ? They said why should Christians say they could defend themselves, hold it! What stupid statement, why should Christians say they could defend themselves? So, they should watch for you to put a knife to their necks? You think we are dummies?
Again Darius Ishaku, the Governor of Taraba state, said, “‘The people of Southern Kaduna must wake up from their slumber and defend themselves. You can’t just lie down and allow yourselves to be annihilated by other groups. You have a constitutional right to self-defense and now is the time to use it. The government alone cannot do it.”
Clearly the drums of war and conflict are already beating in our nation and no-one takes a greater share of the blame for this than those identifiable forces that are encouraging, sponsoring, protecting and covertly supporting these barbaric and murderous Fulani militias and herdsmen. They are all, to the last man, nothing but monsters and beasts.