[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]eah even the dumb, deaf, blind and the pretentious can now see why we vehemently kicked against Kaduna Governor Nasir El Rufai’s religious bill. We knew that beyond the superficialities, the real intention of the bill is to clampdown on the religious freedom of minority groups.
Mr. Governor’s banning of the largest Shi’ite sect in Nigeria, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria has further confirmed our ill feeling against the obnoxious bill.
If an organization with millions of followers and with over 40 years history of existence could be banned using “some constitutional” provisions, which organization wouldn’t suffer the dictatorial and unconstitutional actions of Kaduna’s governor, Nasir El Rufai, if he feels uncomfortable with their activities?
Who wouldn’t be put behind bars if El Rufai had a bad dream about you the previous night? Which mosque, church, or shrine wouldn’t be rounded up if their leaders are critical of his government?
We are witnessing a situation where the government of Kaduna State under Mr. El Rufai is “respecting” our 1999 constitution and other global protocols on people’s rights, selectively. That is not good for freedom and liberty of the people. It’s a clear case of impunity and autocratic style of leadership in a supposed democracy. And lest we forget, a dictatorship perpetrated in a democracy is severer than the one under autocratic political settings.
Our 1999 constitution expressly gave citizens the right to worship and association. In addition to that, there are other regional and global protocols guaranteeing such rights. Is banning the Shiites not barring them from enjoying that part of the constitution and other universal protocols Nigeria is a party to? Above all, are followers of other religions and sects also not guilty of the “sins” allegedly being committed by the Shiites? I’m interested in knowing that sect or religion that doesn’t infringe on rights of others in Kaduna State and Nigeria at large.
Get me right, this is not about Shiites but rights and liberty. If we must development, we have to cultivate the attitude of fighting for others to do what they want or practice their beliefs even if we don’t share their values. That will bring peace and foster fraternity in our world.
I’m an Evangelicals with some dregs of Old Time Religion. By this, you know, am not a Shi’ite. But once he succeeds on Shiites, I doubt whether I wouldn’t be his next victim. Lastly, don’t forget the SPEAK OUT.
John Danfulani, Ph.D., is a university lecturer at Kaduna State University and human rights activist. He can be reached by email HERE.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.