As a result of the chain of events following the Friday January 20, 2012 Attacks, a coalition of Kano-based religious, civil society and community organisations (represented by Dr. Musa Borodo of Hudaibiyya Foundation, Mallam Bala Abdullahi of Network for Justice, Dr. Ibrahim Maibushira of Safinatul Khair and Barrister Usman Zunnurain of Muslim Lawyers Association) found it necessary to reflect on the State of the City and proffer solutions to the quagmire. Between them, they speak for us all. Excerpts:
UNFOLDING EVENTS since the January 20 attacks have been stressing the need for a collective action to arrest the situation. We commend the residents of this historic City for their patience, understanding and cooperation with relevant authorities, especially at this time when commercial activities in the State and the entire region have been paralysed, movement within the City has become near impossible, and a sense of fear, confusion and helplessness has beset a majority of residents.
WE RECALL that Kano has been peaceful for several years, even after the beginning of the current troubles, despite the State hosting a large concentration of non-Muslims. Even during the 2009 clampdown in Maiduguri, no major incident was recorded in Kano. This was a scenario worth cherishing. In fact, during the January nationwide protest against fuel price hike, Muslims and Christians stood side-by-side and did not allow their peaceful coexistence to be eroded by any external influence.
EQUALLY WORTHY of note was that the January 2012 attacks on Kano did not target any places of worship or locations dominated by any particular tribe or religious group. That is why the bulk of the officially-declared 186 victims were civilians caught in the crossfire, many of whom Muslims of Kano State origin. Sadly, this comforting aspect was upset with the incidence at Bayero University, Kano (BUK) on April 29 when Christian worshippers were targeted, followed by the May 16 bombing of an Islamic school at Ja’en Quarters of Kano City.
HAVING THOROUGHLY discussed and analysed the situation of Kano State in particular and the nation in general, it has been concluded that the problems in Kano cannot be meaningfully addressed except in the context of the overall social justice and security problems in the North and the nation in general. Similarly, a critical analysis of the immediate and remote causes must be done to properly diagnose the situation and take adequate steps to remedy the problems. Thus, we wish to suggest as follows, with the hope that each solution will play an important role in determining the way forward, even if emphasising what has been observed by many before us:
Ceasefire, Amnesty, Dialogue: We call on ALL combatants to lay down their arms in the interest of peace and, as a matter of urgency, the security forces to stop the arrest and extra judicial killings of suspects. A general amnesty should be declared, as it will not be possible to have any dialogue without. We call for the removal of checkpoints on the main roads within Kano City, as they have stifled commercial activities and are becoming bottlenecks to traffic movement and hinder even emergency movements. Police stations should be relocated from the middle of residential buildings;
Compensation: Since the Federal Government is supposed to be in charge of the lives and security of all citizens of the nation, and it is a direct fallout of the lack of social system that led to these unfortunate happenings, all victims of the attacks or their relatives should be adequately compensated from the purse of the Federal Government, including servicemen and women who lost their lives or limbs in providing security for the society;
Christian terrorists and would-be suicide bombers: There have been several reported cases of Christians arrested with explosives or attempting to burn down churches or public buildings. Many of such cases have been documented by other associations and individuals. There must be thorough investigation for these incidences. There are also disturbing incidences of arms build-up and smuggling. Sadly, despite these glaring facts, the unguarded utterances of some Christian leaders only continue to affect national cohesion;
Condemnation of External Interference: It is disturbing to note that for a long period some foreign governments have been working covertly and overtly to see to the disintegration of this country. We condemn in strong terms the meddling of some Western powers, especially the USA, in our internal affairs. The Federal Government should take decisive measures to establish its true sovereignty colonialism especially in security, economy and political issues concerning our country;
True Federalism: The Nigerian Constitution should be reviewed to include provisions which will allow Nigeria’s multi-religious, multi-ethnic groups conduct their affairs in accordance with their cultural norms and values, and observe their religious injunctions freely. In essence, since majority of Nigerians are religious, there is no reason to continue operating a secular Constitution;
Commendation: We commend all the residents of Kano (Muslims and Christians alike) and the North in general, for their maturity, understanding and cooperation in these trying times. We pray to Allah for His continued protection against recurrence, for forgiveness of the souls of the dead, and for quick recovery for the injured, amin.
AND FINALLY (this from the Columnist), our heartfelt condolences to the families that lost loved ones in the DANA air crash on Sunday. When such accidents happen, one instinctively knows that one will be affected, even before any names are mentioned. Alas! Little did we know it would be so close home: daughter of senior colleague Sunusi Abubakar Daily Trust Tuesday back-page Columnist; daughter of sister Hadiza Nuhu of Herb 25 and her husband, brother Idris Bugaje; brother of good friend Sa’idu Dukawa, and many more. May Allah accept their shahada, amin.