IMN’s Provocative #BringBackOurZariaGirls Campaign

By Gabriel Onoja (GVE) – All well meaning Nigerians must set aside the culture of political correctness and call out the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) for their irresponsibility in appropriating the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls for their fanatical goal. IMN, which is the group of Shi’ites in Nigeria parodied the hashtag that gained global fame in the campaign to free over 200 school girls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists with the creation of #BringBackOurZariaGirls under the pretext that the Nigerian Army abducted over 50 girls from the sect.

To quickly dismiss the lies before outlining the IMN outrage, how come the abduction of the “50 girls” is only now just making the news with the statement issued by the Coordinator, #BringBackOurZariaGirls, Batula Mua’zu. The hashtag, instead of being about phantom abducted girls, is actually a cover for the sect members to stage protests on the streets and possibly breach security. It is another desperate ploy by the extremist group to remain in the news after several other gimmicks failed to interest the nation including the controversial Zaria-Abuja trek that was a cover to attempt springing its leader, Mr Ibraheem El-Zakyzaky out of protective custody.
It was adequately reported after the incident that all those arrested were handed over to other security agencies. It was reportedly up to these agencies to screen the suspects and arraign those found culpable. Nigerians should ask IMN to explain how its girls could have been abducted when all those arrested in the ensuing military operation were handed over.

That said, Nigerians should be rightly outraged that IMN, an extremist group, is hitching a ride on the hashtag created to draw attention to the violations committed by another extremist group, Boko Haram with the abduction of the Chibok Girls. It went a step further to play the mind game against Nigerians with the claim that its members were abducted, not by extremists but by a respected state institution, the Nigerian Army.
It is understandable that IMN sees a mortal foe in the Nigerian Army, whose professionalism thwarted its plan to force its own brand of Islam on the country. It is therefore to be expected that the sect would do anything to score a shot at the Army with its propaganda, even cheap shots. What should not be tolerated is for these fanatical sect members to intrude on the pains of parents and families that are still mourning the fate of their abducted daughters, taken by another fanatical sect.

Creating the #BringBackOurZariaGirls hashtag and the movement should of course be investigated by security agencies just in case there is a link between IMN and Boko Haram such that the Shi’ite campaign is meant to distract the authentic campaign for the release of the Chibok Girls.

Those behind the #BringBackOurZariaGirls movement must also prove, assuming over 50 girls were actually abducted, that they are not the ones that spirited the girls into hiding and that they have not been busy abusing these girls in their custody. In the aftermath of the December 2015 Zaria incidence that they referenced, IMN demonstrated a frightening capacity for mounting a propaganda campaign that proved that one cannot put anything past them as they are able to tell lies befitting of Nollywood scripts.

Much as they desperately attempted to appeal to our human emotions with their lies, this latest trick that IMN is trying to pull may not be unconnected with its members trying to pre-empt the implementation of the recommendations of the report of the Kaduna State Judicial Commission of Inquiry that investigated the Zaria incident. The report expected that culpable ones among them should go on trial and they know where the implementation of this report will leave them.

These fanatics must therefore accept once and finally that they exist within a secular society with laws. Cooking up one excuse after the other for embarking on confrontational street protest will do no one any good least of all the sect members themselves. Since they first attempted to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff using a protest as cover, all other successive protests have proven meaningless since they have used up whatever goodwill they have with Nigerians, including that ridiculous trek from Zaria to Abuja and sponsored protests in several cities in the north.

The security agents must be vigilant in ensuring that the sect does not smuggle its trained fighters into other cities under the cover of protesting for the release of girls that were never abducted in the first place. These agencies must also from now begin to put preventive measures in place to ensure these IMN members do not use the December anniversary to unleash mayhem.

Onoja contributed this piece from Abuja.

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