By Richards Murphy
The worst tragedy of the ongoing coordinated multi-cities violent protests by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) is not the avoidable loss of life. It is something more sinister. Make no mistake about it, the loss of any human life, even that of a murderous terrorist, is tragic because each needless death undermines our humanity. The worst tragedy of the IMN protests however is the widespread misreading of the violence being unleashed on Nigerians by the sectarian group, which has made people to be sympathetic of their cause without making attempts to understand what the issues are.
Even after IMN confirmed its murderous tendencies with the assassination of a Deputy Commissioner of Police and a journalist in addition to several other innocent Nigerians in Abuja, some people are yet to accept that the violent protests are about the group playing its hand in its attempt to express itself as capable of inflicting damages on the Nigerian state. When its members invaded the National Assembly, it was their reaffirmation of the rejection of the Nigerian state.
In 2016, when Andrey Karlov, Russian Ambassador to Turkey was assassinated by an extremist (who was in turn killed on the spot), Russian President, Vladimir Putin famously dismissed the killer as a puppet with a vow that “We must know who directed the killer’s hand”. The killer protests are IMN’s hand. It is now time for Nigerians to know those directing the killers’ hand. When Putin spoke of knowing who directed the killer’s hand, he also mentioned bringing swift retribution to them. It is a mindset Nigerians must adopt at a time like this because no powers had dared to again inflict a high-profile casualty on Russia (since Putin carried out a quiet retribution on those that directed the killer’s hand).
A start off point to knowing those directing the killer IMN hand is to look at their ideological base. As a Shiite sect, IMN looks to the Islamic Republic of Iran for directions. Its high-level members had received training in that country while the group continues to get funding from Iran using the cover of non-governmental organization to channel such financing. There have been allegations that some weapons are usually thrown into the bargain, something IMN spokespersons usually deny but a possibility that the recent shootings at IMN protests is fast confirming to be a reality.
The vehement defence of IMN by Iranian officials, as highly placed as an ambassador in some instance, is indicative that it is a national decision for Iran to promote its insurrection in Nigeria. Other government-oriented backing for IMN can be measured from the extent of support and sympathy that the group has received in coverage of Iran owned Press TV. The television, with international coverage, has become the official news outlet of IMN, often running propaganda to benefit the agenda that IMN is pushing in Nigeria.
For yet to be ascertained reasons, and possibly because of its deep pocket and growing desire to overthrow the government, IMN has added the opposition in Nigeria to its support base. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its defeated presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, trip all over each other in their haste to issue statements and make utterances that endorse every single act of terror that IMN commit against Nigerians. They ignore all crimes committed by its extremist members while criminalizing the state for performing its role of safeguarding other Nigerians. They are another variable in knowing those directing the IMN’s killer hand. They demonize President Muhammadu Buhari and are able to venerate Mr Ibraheem ElZakyzaky, the IMN leader.
As we feel the oppressive hand of IMN’s hand in escalating violence on the streets of our cities, we also hear its voice, only that the voice is that of Amnesty International, which has turned to the mouthpiece of an aspiring terrorist organization while being in bed with a bitter opposition. As IMN’s newfound voice, Amnesty International is doing a bad job of it. Each time the group takes its violent protests to the streets and kill people, like when it killed the senior police officer, the NGO jumps to its defence and delivers statements that presents IMN as the victim. It lies to the world about how “harmless protesters” are being dispersed with live ammunition without sparing any thoughts for the victims of the extremists –people denied of their right to life and their families bereaved into mourning.
Unfortunately, Amnesty International is notorious for questionable roles where Nigeria is concerned. Its latest of such is the coordination of IMN protests across the country while issuing jaundiced commentary that it passes off as intervention statements. In other ignoble deeds, Amnesty International was responsible for raising and nurturing Boko Haram into a global terror franchise before midwifing its fusion with the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) when it became apparent that the Nigerian military was decimating its ranks. The same NGO adopted the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which it only became lukewarm towards only after it was designated a terrorist organization.
Nigerians, especially the Federal Government, must embrace the Putin approach. We have seen the killer’s hand. We have heard the voice. We even know those behind the killer’s hand. Let out retribution be swift.
Murphy is a security expert and public affairs analyst based in Calabar.