Are the military and Northern elites to blame for bloody religious wars in Nigeria?

Nigerian police force

THE Nigerian Bar Association’s dis-inviting of Nasir El-Rufai from debasing its platform at its last conference due to the pressure of open bar initiative that a man who has outright disregard for the rule of law is not a good teacher for lawyers on the subject is a good example of constructing amoral finishing post for a society. A major reason for the festering of impunity in our non-country is the collapse of all moral columns that make people commit all crimes and go on to become Very Important Personalities (VIPS).

One of such VIPs, who has an unresolved murder allegation hanging on his neck, is Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who was removed as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and dethroned as the Emir of Kano.

Since he escaped paying for the crime of alleged murder in 1995, he has occupied many important posts in the country and he mounts every platform to talk down on the country and abuse all those he can pick on at his garrulous best. He was at it again on the 60th Independence anniversary of Nigeria when he mounted the platform of the Convenant Christian Centre.

This time round, he lambasted identity groups in the country who he accused of representing only themselves and their families. His prescription for the country was that every citizen has to be worthy representative of their beliefs, religions and groups. But if this were a country that makes all citizens account for their actions, no matter their status, beliefs and regions, where will Sanusi have been today?

In 1995, a group of nine Wahabists were alleged to have committed murder in Kano. A report in 2012 by Pointblanknews alleged that Gideon Akaluka, a young Igbo trader, allegedly desecrated the Koran. He was arrested after his wife allegedly used pages of the Koran as toilet paper for her baby. “After he was locked up by the police, a group of Muslim fundamentalists broke into the jail, beheaded Akaluka, and paraded his bodiless head around the streets of Kano.”

The medium went on to make some earth-shaking revelations. “ investigation revealed the alleged role Sanusi, an alleged Boko Haram sympathiser, and proponent of the controversial Islamic Bank, played in the murder of Akaluka, and why the Abacha regime decided to lock him up for two years for the murder of Akaluka. “Sources hinted that shortly after returning from Khartoum, Sudan where he earned a degree in Sharia and Islamic studies, at the International University of Africa, Sanusi became a recluse and immersed himself in the Koran and became a teacher of the Hadith as espoused by the Wahabbists.”

“Wahhabism is an ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam. It is a religious movement among fundamentalist (with an aspiration to return to the primordial fundamental Islamic sources: Qu’ran, Hadeeth and Scholarly consensus (Ijma)) of Islamic believers. Wahhabism was a popular revivalist movement instigated by an 18th century theologian, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792). A source said, “when Sanusi returned from Sudan where he associated with very extreme personalities, he was not a happy man. He was treated like an outcast in royal circles because his grandfather was eposed as Emir of Kano. So his anger grew. “During that period, the incident of desecration of the Koran by the Akalukas surfaced.

“ According to our source, during that period the Abacha government was not comfortable with the activities of the extremists in Kano, who they view with suspicion. The regime, it was gathered, silently assassinated a lot of them,” said our source. “When Akaluka was locked up, Sanusi and eight others allegedly mobilised some extremist mob who stormed the prison and killed Akaluka. The regime identified the masterminds and so mandated its hit squad to eliminate the nine, including Sanusi. gathered that eight of the masterminds were assassinated by Abacha, but for the intervention of former First Bank chairman, and father of Christmas Day bomber, Alhaji Umar Mutallab and others. It was Muttallab and the rest who were heavy sponsors of Islamic activities who prevailed on Abacha to spare Sanusi. They are argued that since he has gone through a lot, treated like a pariah in the royal circles because his grandfather was deposed, he should be spared. So, they decided to remove him from Kano to Sokoto where he was locked up for two years,” said the source.

It was further learnt that after his release from prison, Sanusi was handed over to Mutallab who pushed him into banking because he (Sanusi) had a degree in Economics from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU). From there, he moved to the United Bank for Africa, and the First Bank, from where he rose quietly until the late President Umaru Yar’Adua recruited him to head CBN and spearhead the introduction of the Islamic Bank.”

A report by Karl Maier for the Independent of London on August 16, 1995 with the title “Beheading Stirs Nigerian tension” had this worrying perspective from religious leaders: “Anger over Nigeria’s economic collapse, the result of instability, rampant corruption and mismanagement by 12 years of military rule, runs deep in Kano. “Whenever you find people not properly employed, there is no other way to express yourself, because you have the police, and the emirs and their agents looking for troublemakers,” said Professor Mahadi. “So the most important thing is to express this in Islam.”

Observers from both sides of the ethnic and religious divide blame Nigeria’s military authorities for worsening the crisis. “The military have always played this card very well,” said Fr Bagobiri. “Because the whole thing started during the [Ibrahim] Babangida regime. That was when the religious divide became very strong.”

The government’s disastrous handling of the Akaluka affair is a case in point. Mr (Maitama) Sule, normally a defender of General Sani Abacha’s military regime, describing it as “experienced and responsible”, was outraged by the incident. “I can’t understand how in a society where we have a government, the police and judiciary, that a group of people take the law into their own hands, go to the prison, break into the prison, and get somebody out of his cell, cut off his head, and take the head around the next day with impunity.”

Observers like Father Kukah see the sinister hand of the military and the Northern elite behind the trouble. “Let’s be clear: there are Nigerians who have invested heavily in violence, in ignorance, in poverty, in turbulence. Because it is when you now have this anarchic situation, that they present themselves as the praetorian guard.”

Sanusi has not been able to explain away his alleged role in the Akaluka affair. He threatened to sue one man who was haunting him-with the issue over 10 years ago, but the suit has yet to come. Neither has there been any explanation for the two years that his whereabouts cannot be explained in his CV. The Akaluka case is dead and no justice done outside the Wahabists Abacha allegedly executed extra-judicially.

Nigeria has the blood of many Akalukas on its hands with their killers walking free. Its woes will continue until it dispenses justice. Shame on ignoramuses who are looking for a president in Sanusi without asking for how Akaluka lost his