A few months ago, the Nigerian Army announced that it had uncovered several caches of sophisticated weapons in the Nigerian city of Kano. It stated that these arms were found in houses owned by Lebanese nationals. These include anti tank guns, rocket propelled grenades, anti aircraft missiles, rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition. The army announced that these arms were meant for the Boko Haram terrorist group currently fighting the Nigerian government, courtesy of Hezbollah of Lebanon. It announced the arrest of four Lebanese nationals whom it claimed were working for Hezbollah.
Army spokesman Captain Ikedechi Iweha stated “all those arrested have undergone Hezbollah training........the arms and ammunition were to be targeted at facilities of Israel and Western interests in Nigeria”. However, the Lebanese Consul in Kano, Khallel Musliman stated that the house where the arms were found belonged to a Sierra Leonean named Abdu Hassan Tahir. About 75% of the 31,000 Lebanese nationals currently living in Nigeria are Maronite Christians and Sunni Muslims, with the Shiites in the minority. They have been largely peaceful and law abiding.
An astute observer of Islamic politics will notice that the Nigerian army has been careful to avoid mentioning the confessional status of those arrested. The army did not state whether they are Sunni or Shiite Muslims or Christians. This is very important and relevant. If they are Sunni, the possibility of helping Hezbollah smuggle arms is zero. If they are Christians, that will be impossible. If they are Shiite-what interest does a Shiite organization like Hezbollah have in strengthening and supporting a Salafist Sunni organization like Boko Haram. There are about 70 million Sunni Muslims in Nigeria and 5 million Shiites.
An alliance between Shiite Hezbollah and Sunni Boko Haram will be unusual given the antagonism that exists between the two sects. Fast forward. After the death of Mohammed a crises over his succession arose in Islamdom. One group wanted his son inlaw Ali to inherit his mantle and succeed him. Another group wanted the next leader to be elected based on capability. Therefore a schism arose. Those who wanted his son inlaw to succeed him became known as Shiites, While those who wanted the leader to be elected became known as Sunnis.
The Shiites believe the Mahdi has already been here and will return from hiding, while the Sunnis believe the Mahdi is yet to emerge into history. The Sunnis have a hierarchical structure of leadership-Grand Ayatollahs, Ayatollahs, Hojatolislams, etc, while the Sunnis don’t. Despite their differences, they also have commonalities-both sects believe in the five pillars of Islam and the Koran. 90% of the world's Muslims are Sunni, while 10% are Shiite. There are only four majority Shiite nations in the world-Iran, Iraq, Bahrain and Azerbaijan. Lebanon is 40% Shiite. In short, the Sunnis do not recognize the Shiites as legitimate Muslims, but as heretics and syncretics.
A lot of the conflicts in the Middle East and the Islamic world have had the Sunni-Shiite antagonism behind it. Majority of the Arab governments opposed the Shiite Islamic revolution in Iran, because it threatened the Sunni dominated governments in the Gulf. Saudi Arabia sent in troops to suppress the majority Shiite rebellion in Bahrain, because it threatened the minority Sunni regime in that country. Majority of the Arab governments except Syria, supported Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran as a way of containing the spread of Shiism. Hamas, a Sunni organization did not support Hezbollah during their conflict with Israel.
Also, Hezbollah a Shiite organization did not support Hamas during their conflict with Israel. The current conflict in Syria is a microcosm of the conflict between the two sects. Bashir Assad and those who currently run Syria are from the Alawite sect, an offshoot of the Shiites and those trying to overthrow the regime are majority Sunni. That is why Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt are supporting the rebels, while Iran and Hezbollah are supporting President Assad. Currently in Egypt and Pakistan, Shiites are been hunted down and slaughtered by their Sunni compatriots. In Lebanon, they are at each others throat in the city of Sidon. With the above facts in mind, Hezbollah does not have any political, religious or ideological reasons to arm and strengthen the Sunni Boko Haram rebels.
However, should Hezbollah choose to send arms into Nigeria, it can do so through its affiliate in Nigeria- the Islamic Movement in Nigeria. A Shia organization, it was founded in 1980 by Ibrahim Yacoub El Zakzaky, a Shia Muslim cleric who was educated at Ahmadu Bello University. Born in Zaria where the organization has its headquarters, Zakzaky has nine children and has been jailed several times by the successive military regimes. He is a follower of Sayed Qutb, the intellectual face behind the brotherhood and whose ideas form the basis of Al Qaeda's ideology today.
A protege of Iran, Zakzaky is creating a radical socio economic, political and military system that resembles that of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Like Hezbollah, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria has a newspaper Al Mizan, a radio station called Shuhada and a television station in the making. Al Mizan, published in Hausa is reported to be the largest mass circulation newspaper in Nigeria today. But most ominously, it has an army like Hezbollah called the Hurras.
The Hurras are trained and equipped by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Their fortified compound in Gyellesu, Zaria is a no go area for even the president of Nigeria. Recently, Kaduna State Governor Muktar Ramallan Yero was prevented from driving into the compound with his police escorts to visit an ailing friend. He was forced to alight from his car and walk into the compound on foot by the Hurras. This behavior infuriated the Sunni youths in Zaria who promptly attacked the compound and tore down the gate.
A spokesman for the movement Dr. Abdullahi Danladi states that Governor Yero was refused entry into the compound with his escorts “because of the caliber of people living in Gyellesu for security concerns”. Who lives in that compound that is more important than the governor of the state?. Your guess is as good as mine. In 2007, a fiery anti Shia cleric Umar Danshiya was assassinated in Sokoto by members of the Shia movement. This infuriated the authorities in Sokoto who promptly demolished the Islamic Center belonging to the Islamic Movement.
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria is quietly building a state within a state in Zaria. With a support base of 1,000,000 subscribers and supporters, it is a matter of time before they strike out like Hezbollah in Lebanon. In anticipation of when that time will come, Zakzaky has thoroughly compromised the Nigerian army, police and other security agencies. President Jonathan and army chief Ihejirika were correct when they stated that terrorists have infiltrated Nigeria's security agencies. In my opinion, they are more dangerous than Boko Haram. Hezbollah does not need individual Lebanese to carry arms to Nigeria when it has a competent surrogate that can handle the job. When it does, those arms will be going to the Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria and not Sunni Boko Haram.
* Dr. Leonard Madu, is President of the African Caribbean Institute and Chamber of Commerce. He is also a Fox TV analyst and writes from Nashville, Tennessee.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, has commended Ndigbo for not making the mistake of embarking on a reprisal attacks against northerners resident in Igbo land during bomb attacks in Kano and other parts of the north.
He said if Ndigbo had made such a mistake, the terrorists, would have satisfied their own aspirations in trying to create a state of anarchy in the country.
Ihejirika, who spoke at the Army Officers’ Mess, Military Cantonment, Onitsha, Anambra State, during the commissioning of some refurbished military vehicles, including prime movers, ammunition carriers and command post vehicles.
He said he was impressed that Ndigbo were sensible enough to have shunned reprisal attacks. He expressed optimism that with the support of President Goodluck Jonathan and the Onitsha business community, the terrorists would not only be surmounted and kicked out of the country, but also kicked out of neighboring countries.
He also commended the Onitsha business community for the support and co-operation given to his officers and men in the commercial city and urged them not to relent in their efforts. Ihejirika said: “My officers and men are here to do a peculiar and selfless job for mankind”.
He also warned the soldiers to be patient and avoid any act capable of tarnishing the image of Nigerian soldiers, particularly during this democratic dispensation. Earlier in his remarks, Commandant of Army Corp Artillery of the Nigerian Army, Maj-Gen A. K. Kwaskebe, had commended Ihejirika for approving the refurbishment of miliary vehicles and equipment which were abandoned in Calabar, Cross River State, after some foreign peace missions.
Kwaskebe disclosed that some contractors had bidded for refurbishment at N300 million but added that the military applied direct labour which paid off as only N18 million was spent for the refurbishment. He said of the amount, N2 million was expended on the procurement of tyres, while N3 million was used for the evacuation of broken down vehicles from Calabar to Onitsha.
Prominent businessmen who attended the ceremony included the chairman of Anambra State Security Trust Fund and chairman of GUO Group of Companies Limited, Chief G. U. Okeke; the chairman of Lake Petroleum Limited, Chief Cletus Mbaji, among others.
Meanwhile, the United Eastern Congress, a body standing as the central voice of the Easterners has described Ihiejrika’s visit to Onitsha Military Cantonment as a demonstration of his total love every Igbo man has for the unity of this entity called Nigeria.
The President of the association, Nze Sam Ike, who made the commendation, said the Chief of Army Staff had in less than three years in office, proved that his appointment as the COAS by the President Goodluck Jonathan was well placed.
President Jonathan attended the 150th Nigerian Army Day Celebration,NADCEL, held at the Eagles Square, Abuja, on July 5th, 2013. His words:
"We are particularly delighted to note that since 1999, the army and its sister services, the navy and the air force, have remained highly professional services under democratic control, discharging their constitutional roles with success, he said.
They have remained focused in the task of building peace, promoting unity and defending our sovereignty. We really do appreciate their sacrifice and contribution to the development of our fatherland.
“I commend the Nigerian Armed Forces and our entire security services for their patriotism, dedication, sacrifice and continued engagement to maintain peace and security across our country and other parts of the world, especially our dear continent, Africa.
We recall the circumstances that led to the declaration of the current state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states some seven weeks ago, which falls within our comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy, and became impending following the increasing destabilising activities by terror groups.
I am pleased to note that the initial assessment report of the conduct of the military operation since the emergency declaration revealed that our strategy has been well thought out and is progressing satisfactorily.”
Service Chiefs with Minister of State, Defence, L-R Chief of Army Staff Lt- General Azubuike Ihejirika, Minister of State, Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada, Chief of Defence Staff, Vice-Admiral Ola Sahad Ibrahim, Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba and Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Dikko Abubakar
PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN (L) PRESENTING THE CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF COMMENDATION AWARD TO MAJOR-GEN. NNAEMEKA MADUEGBUNAM AT THE 2013 NIGERIAN ARMY DAY CELEBRATION.
The Nigerian Army Council headed by President Goodluck Jonathan Wednesday approved the promotion of 59 Generals with 22 Brigadier Generals elevated to the rank of Major Generals and 37 Colonels elevated to the ranks of Brigadier Generals.
Among the new Major Generals are the Brigade Commander, 4 Brigade Benin , Brigadier General Obi. Abel Umahi, Brigadier Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Bola Koleoso, Brigade Commander, 2 Brigade, Port Harcourt, Brigadier General Tukur Buratai, Brigadier General SD Aliyu, Defence Adviser to China, Brigade Commander, 23 Brigade Yola, Brigadier General Jogn Nwaoga, Brigadier General Saliu Uba, Director Veteran Affairs at Defence headquarters and Brigadier General Mashudy Adekanye of the Nigerian Army Ordinance School.
Former Aide De Camp, ADC, to late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Colonel Mustapha Onoiveta of the Directorate of Peacekeeping at DHQ was elevated to the rank of Brigadier General while other Major Generals are Brigadier General NO Ojiji of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Brigadier General HA Salihu of Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria, Brigadier General ET Nienge of the Army School of Supply and Transport, as well as Brigadier General David Eniete of Headquarters, Infantry Corp and School.
Also promoted Major Generals are Brigadier General Patrick Ogah of Army headquarters directorate of Training and Operations, Brigadier General Daniel Oji of the Army Signals School, Brigadier General Tanko Gaiya of AFCSC, Brigadier General Tamunomiebi Dibi, Commander 1 Brigade, Sokoto, Brigadier General Bamidele Ologundudu of the NDC, Brigadier General Abbas Adekanye of the Army’s Central Workshop and Brigadier General Chukwudi Odunukwe of directorate of data processing, Defence Attaché China.
Further elevations to Major General are Brigadier General Suleiman Aliyu, Brigadier General Junaid Bindawa, Brigadier General Obidah Ethnan, Brigadier General Obasina Ogunbiyi of the Army Medical Corps and Brigadier General Friday Airende of the Special Vehicle Plant, Bauchi.
For those promoted to Brigadier Generals, they include Colonel Adekunle Shodunke, Colonel Ahmed Sabo, former Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Joseph Orokpo, Colonel NE Angbazo Colonel LM Bello, Colonel CC Agundu of Army headquarters Garrison, Colonel Henry Ayamasaowei of NDA, Colonel Peter Dauke, Colonel JS Malu and Colonel CO Ude.
Also promoted Brigadier Generals are Colonel JB Olawunmi, Colonel KA Essien, Colonel CC Okonkwo and Colonel AH Sa’ad.