Not less than 20 Muslims were gruesomely murdered on Saturday in Jos with several others injured. The Muslims, traveling in a convoy of five buses were said to be coming from an annual Dhikr prayer and headed for Ikare, Ondo State before they were massacred along Rukuba Road of Jos North LGA.
In a report, the victims ran into a group of youths who were taking about 40 corpses for mass burial in Miango. These youths stopped the innocent Muslims and instantly killed 20 of them and burnt some buses.
AKEREDOLU AND THE PARADOX OF ‘MISTAKEN IDENTITY’
Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu in a statement issued by his Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde said it was a case of mistaken identity. Part of the statement reads,
“Let me again make it clear that I was informed by my colleague that it was indeed, a case of mistaken identity. I want to assure our people living in Plateau that they are not targets of any religion or ethnic crisis.”
Here, Akeredolu wants us to believe they (the deceased) were not victims of “any religion or ethnic crisis. We have a contradiction in another part of the statement,
“The victims, according to preliminary reports, took a route where crisis between Muslims and Northern Christians had ensued for some time, and that they may have been possibly, mistaken for aggressors.”
Akeredolu’s damage control or peace-keeping strategy is wicked, callous, preposterous, obnoxious, and insults the sensibilities of the families of the deceased and the Muslim ‘Ummah by extension.
According to Akeredolu’s so-called press release, there is an ongoing crisis between Muslims and Northern Christians leading us to the background of the massacre. On August 2, ThisDay reported that 13 people were killed and about 22, 000 displaced in Fulani, Irigwe Bloody Clash, and on June 1, ‘Fulani Herdsmen’ were said to have killed 41 people in Irigwe within four months.
Consequent to the existing crisis, those who massacred the Muslims were Fulani-hunting Irigwe youths who are, of course, Christians. Therefore, Akeredolu’s claim of them not being targets of any religious or ethnic crisis is balderdash, however, he was right about the mistaken identity. With this, we can establish that it was a religious and/or ethnic attack against Fulanis but the Muslim travelers from Ondo State suffered the misadventure of being taken for Fulanis. This claim of mistaken identity begs the question, “Why would Irigwe Youths mistake Yoruba Muslims from Ondo State for ‘Fulani Herdsmen’?
THE RAMIFICATION OF STEREOTYPES SOLD BY NIGERIAN MEDIA
Since the inception of ‘Fulani Herdsmen’ and ‘Islamic Terrorist’ in the Nigerian Media space, we have been at the forefront of cautioning against the ramifications of these terms, in fact, a Muslim journalist gave up his job because he refused to use the term, ‘Islamic Terrorist’. Consequent to the usage of these terms, every Herdsman became a kidnapper while the Fulanis as an ethnic group were loathed, resented, and scorned.
Over a quick period of time, the stereotype was passed on to Muslims in all parts of Nigeria especially in the South-East. It was enough to be ‘Onye Hausa’ by the virtue of your beards, Arabian robe, or simply ‘SubhanaLlah’ as an expression. This prejudice became much more evident when self-acclaimed lawyers asked that the Ajami script, mistaken for the Arabic language, be removed from the Nigerian Naira. Thus, the Hausa became the Fulani and vice versa while a Yoruba or Igbo Muslim can easily become Fulanized.
These prejudices and stereotypes were the premises of this ‘mistaken identity’ leading to the massacre of innocent travelers. They had the Qur’an, some probably wore the Hijab, some wore beards and some Jalabs and perhaps, there were traces of Arabic inscription somewhere on the bus or materials in the buses, therefore, they were mistaken for Fulanis and deserve to die because according to the media, all Fulanis are kidnappers.
Barrister Igbo Hakeem Ohwojeheri has this to say,
“This is not the first time those animals are murdering travelers. We have seen videos upon videos of them killing Muslims. In 2011, they attack Muslims who went to pray on Eid day, killed as many as they could, barbeque their remains and eat them. These are not human beings, but animals.
Those who are doing these things are not some terrorist group or some uneducated primitive people who live inside the forest. People who do these are urban dwellers, averagely educated, and regular churchgoers.
Allow me to remind you of what happened about 17-18 years ago. On the 2nd day of May, 2004 and the days that followed, more than 630 Muslims were killed in Yelwa by those who claimed to be Soldiers for Christ. They surrounded Yelwa to ensure nobody escape. Then they slaughtered the Muslim inhabitants. The majority of the invaders were bare-Chested, while others wore shirts that reportedly had pinned white name tags identifying them as members of the Christian Association of Nigeria. Each tag had a number instead of a name: a code, it seemed, for identification.
According to Human Rights Watch, 660 Muslims were massacred over the course of the next two days, including the patients in the Al-Amin clinic. Twelve mosques and 300 houses went up in flames. Young Muslim girls were marched to a nearby Christian town and forced to eat pork and drink alcohol. Many were raped, and many killed.”
Sadly, targeted attacks at Muslims do not make the headlines. A Google search of these two keywords will leave you in awe, “Muslims killed in Nigeria” and “Christians killed in Nigeria”.
A Call To Reason
The Hutus and Tutsi watched as propaganda, supremacy, and stereotype became the order of the day till it led to the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 leading to the death of over 800, 000 people. Sadly, the pre-Rwandan Genocide Rwanda seems to be our own reality of today.
Whether it is Boko Haram ‘fighting against Western Education’ or the ESN that murders innocent Fulanis based on prejudice and stereotype, or the Northern Bandit/Kidnapper that kidnaps for ransom and kill because he wants the government to hear him according to Sheikh Gumi, or the Christian Fulani-Muslim hunter, these are all pirates – enemies of Mankind and there is no justification for their actions whether it be ideological or not.
We urge the Muslims to be patient and no seek reprisal attacks. Allah says,
Surah Al-Baqara, Verse 154:
وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَن يُقْتَلُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتٌ بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ وَلَٰكِن لَّا تَشْعُرُونَ
And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah: “They are dead.” Nay, they are living, though ye perceive (it) not.
As it is evident in Governor Akeredolu’s hypocritical tears and concerns, we cannot allow this case to be swept under the carpet. We demand that the culprits be investigated, prosecuted, and face the wrath of the law. They are pirates and should be treated hostis humanis generis. But for the law’s delay, the common man will not take the law into his hands. WE DEMAND JUSTICE!
Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman
Convener, The KnowIslam Project