By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
What happened in Zaria where in the end over a hundred lives were lost by noon yesterday is very disturbing, unfortunate and stands condemned by any civilized person.
I have earlier condmened in very strong terms all religious leaders who break the law, inflict untold hardship on the public and generate crises that lead to loss of lives. I hope religious leaders will take heed and allow us some breathing space. Obedience to law, as I said then, is a fundamental requisite of peace even among animals.
The option for anyone who does not recognise the authority of his or her country is either to fight it, as Boko Haram has done, or migrate to where he thinks is better for him. But to remain under the political umbrella of a nation, disobey its laws and think that nothing will happen is a mere fallacy. Our religious leaders and their followers can migrate to Iran – if they are Shi’ites, or to Saudi Arabia – if they are Wahabis or Salafis, or to Senegal or Baghdad – if they are sufis, once they are not satisfied with the laws that will ensure the peace we need to live and practice our religion as much as we can. Let them let us, we Nigerians, alone. We want peace.
More deplorable, however, is how the Nigerian authorities react to citizen conflicts. The gun, to the military and the police, is the answer. Only a barbarian can think and act so. In any civilisation, the sanctity of life is supreme and it must not be violated except through legitimate legal recourse. The law has laid down procedures for handling any form of crime in manners that conform to equitable ethical standards. To violate the law in pursuing its purpose is a greater crime than the offence the agent purports to stop.
On this, the act of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) on whose behalf yesterday’s atrocities were committed, is a violation of the law, worse than the recalcitrant behaviour of the Shi’ites that I earlier condemned. By God, whoever pulls the trigger on any of our citizens at the slightest provocation is not our soldier. He is an animal. Simple and clear. He does not deserve to be on our payroll. He does not deserve to be entrusted with the noble profession of the military, whoever he may be. A noble soldier derives pleasure in respecting the law and its citizens, not in their death.
While we Nigerians intensify efforts to call our religious leaders to order such that they accord better respect to the fundamental rights of citizens, our noble President must call his COAS to order. The culprits that massacred armless Nigerians yesterday in Zaria must be brought to book. Otherwise, the Lord above does not go to sleep. He is awake and busy, every time. He will revenge for the innocent.
My heart bleeds for this nation. But cry not, Nigeria. One day, this will be history.
Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde