Northern States Governors Forum yesterday warned the federal government or its agencies against radicalising the Islamic Movement of Nigeria through acts capable of pushing its members to the wall and forcing them to take vengeance on the innocent public.
The forum, which met in Kaduna to deliberate on the penultimate Friday’s clash between the Shiite and the Nigerian Army that resulted in the death of some members of the sect, said efforts must be made to avert occurrence of similar incidence which gave birth to the Boko Haram insurgency.
The chairman of the forum and Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, in his opening remarks said it was not out to compare the Shi’ite sect with Boko Haram but to curtail similar incidence that ultimately radicalised the hitherto Boko Haram to a violent sect.
“However, we are here in connection with what happened in Zaria, first because the issue has to do with an Islamic group that has membership across the nineteen states in the north and beyond. We want to look at how to ensure that the incident does not provide room for anyone or group to perpetuate violence in any of the 19 northern states.
“We already have the serious problems with Boko Haram to contend with. We are not in any way comparing the Islamic Movement with Boko Haram, no. But we don’t want the same mistake that happened over the Boko Haram crisis to repeat itself.
“When Boko Haram went wild in July, 2009 with clashes between them and the police in Bauchi on 25th and 26th in Maiduguri, most Nigerians saw the issues as the problems of Bauchi and Borno. When they continued to attack Borno and Yobe, it became the affairs of Borno and Yobe states. All of a sudden, there was suicide attack in Abuja in 2012 and then everything went out of control and we are where are today.
“So, like I said, we do not make any comparison between the murderously violent Boko Haram insurgents and the Islamic Movement but we are here to analyse and ensure that we take measures that will close any avenue which some people may want to seize to create violence in the immediate or long run,” Shettima said.
The forum expressed confidence in the capability and competence of the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, to take necessary measures to address the incidence but noted that the governors decided to intervene in the matter because of the relevance of Kaduna to the Northern region.
“Moreover, Kaduna is the socio-political heart of the northern Nigeria. Kaduna is to us, what Lagos is to the South West. What affects Kaduna State invariably affects the whole north. If you notice, we make it a duty to travel to Kaduna to hold our meeting instead of holding it in Abuja. Kaduna is the headquarters of the northern Nigeria but it will have that significance if we accord it the relevance it deserves. We have a duty to preserve history and our values by coming here,” he said.
Present at the emergency meeting were Governors Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto, Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari of Zamfara, Idris Wada of Kogi, Alh Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa, Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina and Kashim Shettima of Borno State among others.