Nigerian Muslims under the leadership of Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Muhammad Abubakar III, have accused the country’s military of persecuting Muslims and carrying out indiscriminate killings without adhering to rules of engagement.

The allegation was contained in a statement distributed by the Islamic body, Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI). The Sultan of Sokoto chairs the body. The JNI demanded that the Federal Government and others concerned must urgently address the issue, adding that the mistreatment of Muslims was getting out of hand.

In a statement signed titled ‘MILITARY OPERATION AND THE PERSECUTION OF INNOCENT MUSLIMS; THE KILLING OF 15 MUSLIMS IN KEANA AND THE MASSACRE IN ZAMFARA STATE’ and signed by the group’s scribe, Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, the JNI stated:

“The dimension of extra judicial killing of Muslims by the military on a mere whim of unsubstantiated suspicion leaves much to be desired, which clearly depicts that Muslims have become endangered species, murdered and maimed indiscriminately in the guise of fighting terrorism. The sad incident of Keana 15 is another scenario where the settlements of innocent Muslims were mercilessly massacred. These are people who have been exonerated by the State Governor as being peace loving people and law abiding. It is questionable that an operation of this magnitude would be carried-out without the knowledge of the Chief Security Officer of the State, nor other relevant security bodies. JNI is concerned that the perpetrators of these genocidal acts against Muslims may go scot-free as it was the case with Apo Killings and other similar heinous acts.

The Benue state governor and his deputy have recently exonerated the Fulani of Benue for the long outstanding relationship and social cohesion between them. The social joke between them lives for almost a century. How can all this suddenly change and the next neighbor is accused because of his simplicity and unsophistication?

“The various reports of human rights abuses and massacre of hundreds of Muslims in Maiduguri by the military, as reported by human rights groups, [are] painful and unacceptable. [There are] criminals on [the] one hand and the supposed protectors of the innocent on the other, in front is a lion and behind are wolves.

“We have found the usage of the term Fulani herdsmen, hiding their religious identity, an attempt to wipe out Muslims in the guise of fighting terrorism, as it suits the situation, and using Muslim terrorist as it suits the other situation as absurd. Why is it when a Christian commits a crime it is not called a Christian crime or terrorism? The fact remains, [a] crime is [a] crime[:] it is colorless, tribeless and religiousless.

“It is sad to note that a Muslim milk maid, a mother of five, was raped and killed by a military man around Dei-Dei area of the Federal Capital Territory. We are not aware of any step taken by the military authority on the matter. As usual they will buy time and the case will die naturally.

“We can say without any fear of contradiction that there is a grand agenda to destabilize the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria. If any Nigerian is in doubt regarding the hidden grand agenda to destabilize Muslims in Nigeria, and cautiously reduce their rising human capital, then the Zamfara State incidence should have removed this doubt. An event where vigilante personnel working to restore peace would be the subject of a grand massacre, tells much about the chaos and insecurity some enemies want to push our states into. We call on all our Governors, politicians and indeed every well-meaning citizen to do something before it gets out of hand.

“Where is the human rights compliance and rule of engagement by the military personnel involved in maintaining peace and security? Why are the defaulting military personnel not brought to book for [deterrence] and forestalling future occurrence? The military should know that it is extremely dangerous to polarize security agencies along religious line. It will have far reaching negative effect in the country, especially at this material time, where the efforts of all are required to cushion the effect of the pains we are passing through.

“JNI unequivocally condemns the extra judicial killing of 15 Fulani Muslims in Keana, the raping and subsequent killing of Binta Usman, the milk maid and all the human rights abuses on innocent Muslims in Maiduguri. We strongly call for bringing to justice the perpetrators of transgression against innocent citizens who have the right to practice the religion they choose.”