, , ,

Niger coup: Groups demand arrest, prosecution of Sheikh Durum over derogatory remarks against CDS

Niger Coup Leader
Glonat-Admin Avatar

Islamic preachers, operating under the aegis of the Conference of Islamic Preachers in Africa (CIPA) and a renowned peace advocacy and humanitarian non-governmental organization (NGO), bearing Global Peace and Life Rescue Initiative (GOPRI), have collectively petitioned the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and Director General Department of State Service (DSS). 

They demanded immediate arrest and prosecution of a Kaduna State based Islamic preacher, Sheikh Muktar Durum Zander, over some recent inflammatory remarks against the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Christopher Musa.

The preacher had in a recent viral video, insinuated that General Christopher Musa was behind the decision of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to invade Niger, following the military coup that seized power in the country.

Recall that the Nigerian Defence Chief had read the decision of the ECOWAS Defence Chiefs in Abuja after the coup, where it was resolved to use military force to restore the dethroned civilian government of Niger, led by President Mohammed Bazoum.

But the Islamic preacher took a swipe at the decision, profiling Gen. Musa as being behind the action of ECOWAS to declare war in Niger, insinuating that the Nigerian military chief had 

malicious intentions against the Muslim community.

CIPA and GOPRI, in a joint petition obtained by our reporter on Sunday, gave a seven-day ultimatum to the police IGP to effect the arrest and subsequent prosecution of the preacher for hate speech, failure of which they threatened legal action to compel the nation’s law enforcement agencies’ chiefs to act.

The petition was sent to the IGP through their lawyers, Daniel Obla Esq. O.T. Lukden (MRS) and A.K Shafii of Obla Daniels & CO law firm.

In the petition addressed to the IGP and DG DSS at Abuja, the petitioners noted that the action of Sheikh Muktar Durum has the potential to undermine international and national peacekeeping efforts because he urged other Muslims to see the ECOWAS’s decision to engage the Nigerien Republic as a Christian war against their fellow Muslim brothers in the Niger Republic.

The lawyers informed the IGP and DG DSS that their clients have instructed them that within 7 days of the letter being served on them, if they  failed, neglected, or refused to do the needful, they should pursue all legal means to compel the execution of his administrative function before a court of competent jurisdiction

They described their clients as “peace advocacy and humanitarian Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs) that promotes peace and humanitarian actions.”

The petition read: “We serve as counsel for the Conference of Islamic Preachers in Africa (CIPA) and the Global Peace and Life Rescue Initiative (GOPRI), collectively referred to as “Our Clients,” on whose behalf and per their direction we write;

“Our Clients are a peace advocacy and humanitarian Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that promotes peace and humanitarian action.

 “They go by the names Global Peace and Life Rescue Initiative (GOPRI) and the Conference of Islamic Preachers in Africa (CIPA), and they are officially recognized one as a voluntary association with its coordinator as Sheikh Mohammad Abubarker Zango And the second as an incorporated trustee under the Companies and Allied Matters Act of the federal republic of Nigeria.

“According to our client, videos of the aforementioned Sheikh Muktar Durum Zander suggesting that the current Chief of Defence Staff, General Musa Christopher, was to be blamed for the ECOWAS decision to launch a military operation against the Niger Republic went viral sometimes between July and August 2023. wherein the preacher implied that the decision by ECOWAS to launch a military strike against the Nigerien Republic was made because of the current Chief of Defence Staff, General Musa Christopher.

“This video was created after the (ECOWAS) Chief of Defense met in Abuja in response to the military coup in Niger. General Musa read the meeting’s conclusions regarding the coup d’état and the need for the restoration of constitutional democracy in the West African nation.

“Following the statement the Nigerian military chief read, the Kaduna-based Islamic cleric Sheikh Muktar Durum made incendiary and false accusations against the CDS while also profiling his entire ethnic group in the video.

The Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheik Muktar Durum in the video, made inflammatory and unfounded allegations against the person of the CDS just as he also stereotyped his ethnic group following the statement the Nigerian military boss read.

“The leader of Nigeria’s military, Christopher Musa said that they are ready if given authority. You know that in the military tradition, even if you didn’t say so, once you are given an order, you must obey, whether you are capable or not. Saying that we are ready to be given authority, signifies that he has malicious intentions against a community. Do you know where he comes from? He is from Zangon Kataf – a Kataf man! According to the history of his grandfathers, they are the ones who have been fighting Muslims, right from 1990, they have been killing Muslims. And Niger is a Muslim country.

“He has been made the topmost military officer in Nigeria. And he has been made the leader of the ECOWAS army. Today, the opportunity he has been looking for has been gotten. Left to him, he would have started from Zaria. We know where you are coming from; we know your grandparents; we know your kinsmen; we know your mentors.”

“Our clients also express concern that the CDS and his people of Zagon Kataf, who have long endured religious crisis and who now enjoy a fragile luxury of peace thanks to the engagement of the government and civil society organizations, as well as other humanitarian efforts to ensure lasting peace in this region, could be thwarted, sending the area back to the 1990s when the cleric alluded to.

“If nothing else, the statement by the cleric is inflammatory, inciteful, and hate speech, capable of causing a breach of peace in Kaduna state with the potential to spread to other northern states, as anyone who has followed the history of religious unrest in the Nigerian Northern region, with particular reference to Kaduna state, will understand the fluid state of peace in this area.”

According to the lawyers:”Our clients are worried that the country’s security infrastructure hasn’t reacted to the hate speech to our knowledge since it surfaced in the media. They are particularly worried that this trend will soon degrade and spread if it is not checked and stopped in its tracks.”

The petition read further:”We argue that the cleric’s statement broke every municipal, national, and international peace charter and was hate speech. The Prohibition of Hate Speeches and Other Related Matters Act defines hate speech as “any abusive or threatening speech or writing that shows prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or other similar grounds in flagrant violation of our existing laws. and the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s Laws and the Criminal Code Act.”

According to the groups,”The cleric’s statement is capable of whipping up both religious and ethnic sentiments and sparking up a round of religious unrest in the state and the region.”

” The security agencies must be seen as being proactive in the fight against the perpetrators of division and divisive tendencies in the country

“Therefore, we request that you utilize your good authority to order the following: An urgent investigation into the cleric and any words he made that would have caused a breach of the peace.

“Direct the cleric’s immediate arrest and prosecution for using hate speech.

“Take note, that our clients have instructed us that within 7 days of this letter being served on you, and you failed, neglected, or refused to do the needful, we should pursue all legal means to compel the execution of your administrative function before a court of competent jurisdiction,” the petition further read.

Glonat-Admin Avatar