Army Shi’ite Clash: Group Warns Iran To Stop Meddling With Nigeria's Internal Affairs 

By Jerry Emmanson, Abuja

A Coalition of Human Rights and Pro-Democracy Based Civil Society Organizations, have warned the Islamic republic of Iran to stay clear of Nigeria's internal affairs, warning that the recent attempt by the Iranian government to interfere in matters that concerns Nigeria's internal security is a breach of international laws.

The group in a world press conference said the warning became very necessary following the role played by the Iranian government in the recent clash between the Nigerian Army and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, better known as Shi’ite.

Convener/ National President, Comrade Ibrahim Abubakar who spoke on behalf of the group said since the clash, the Iranian ambassador to Nigeria has made remarks that could be considered threatening to Nigeria's sovereignty and internal security.

He expressed surprise that despite such unguarded statements from the ambassador, he is yet to get a rebuttal from his government.

He said, "First was the phone call by President Rouhani to his Nigerian counterpart on a matter that borders on criminality. Then the many unguarded amd unpalatable utterances of its Ambassador to Nigeria to the extent of threatening the whole nation. We had hoped that the Iranian government would have recalled its ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Saeed Koozechi, on account of the incendiary utterance in the past weeks. The latest of such umbrage from the ambassador was him threatening Nigeria not to pour fuel over fire with continued detention of El-Zakyzaky. The fact that this has not happen is enough proof that he truly speaks for his government as an envoy.

"We see this Iranian interference as part of a desperate attempt to create a Shiite axis of power as compensation for the sliding influence of the sect in the Middle East where the Sunni brand of Islam is gaining the upper hand. Unfortunately for Iran, they blatantly ignore the reality that Islam in Nigeria is not known to be as heavily polarised along sectarian lines as it would want it to be."

He said Nigeria, being a member of the United Nations, UN is bound by all the relevant conventions on Human Rights and other protocols, does not require a lecture from Iran on how to manage its internal affairs, particularly when the issue under consideration borders on security and survival of the nation.

He said further, "by the way, Iran should first put its house in order before trying to lecture another country, on what constitutes Human Right and how to safeguard it. Here is a country where executions are as rampant as tooth extraction at a dentist’s; people are flogged or amputated for minor offences; minorities are hounded; freedom of expression is lacking; and women rank a little above property. It should be crystal clear by now that the era of imperialism is past and Iran does not have the kind of right it is arrogating to itself over Nigeria or any other country for that matter."

He said Nigeria should have by now reported Iran to the UN, saying the arms reportedly found in Shiite enclave came from somewhere; and our intelligence agencies certainly must have a clue to this.

He said, "we still have the unresolved problem of some high calibre armaments which includes missiles illegally shipped into this country. Gentlemen, recall that sometimes ago a cache of firearms and other weapons were uncovered in Kano and it has all the fingerprints of a country on it. The right thing therefore, is for Iran to have tried hiding its involvement in the militarisation of the Shi’ite in Nigeria and not try to intimidate a sovereign nation for defending itself against Iranian proxies."

He said already the activities of the though the Nigerian government has shown willingness to get to the root cause of the clash between the Army and members of the Shi’ite sect, initial reports have indicated that members of the sect have no respect for constituted authority.

He said, "the guarantee of secularism in the Nigerian Constitution ensures that adherents of any faith or sects are citizens of Nigeria who must submit to constituted authorities, including our Armed Forces. No group or sect has the right to hijack public infrastructure to the hardship of other citizens and bearing of unlicensed arms is a crime in any functional country.

"Those with the capacity to be truthful will admit that resident of Zaria, Kaduna state and environs have been living under the reign of terror of the Shi’ite led by Mr. Ibrahim Yakubu El-Zakyzaky. Their lawlessness reached climax to the point that the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai and his entourage could have been killed had the situation been handled differently."