Bauchi State Government Is Witch Hunting Sheikh Idris AbdulAziz

By Saad Umar

Everybody in Bauchi saw it coming. The arrest of Idris AbdulAziz has nothing to do with his preaching or religion, it’s a political witch hunt. The governor must stop it lest he starts a sectarian war. It will consume everybody. A secular state like Bauchi doesn’t have powers to police citizens’ beliefs, thoughts and creeds. It must not pretend to act as if they have. It’s dangerous.

Idris Abdulaziz has the constitutional right to hold his beliefs and to air those beliefs privately or publically. Free speech entails that the state and citizens must tolerate the beliefs and ideas expressed by fellow citizens even if they find such expression extreme.

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After all, listening to Idris AbdulAziz’s preachings is a choice, it is not compulsory. We all have the right to not listen to his so-called blasphemy. If anyone, including the State,  disagrees with him, that person can come out and share his, instead of shutting him down.

Qaura’s blasphemy card is tricky. In a diverse state like ours, someone’s blasphemy is another man’s glorification. Somebody’s God is a mere mortal to another man. Someone’s prophet is an ‘impostor’ to somebody else. How do you deal with that?

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If Qaura wants to hear real blasphemy, here’s it. In this Bauchi, I heard a preacher saying that he too is Allah. Not only him, even animals like cow, pig and dog are Allah. Subhanallah! They say everything is Allah. Don’t they? This sounds worse than anything I ever heard. It’s not even close to saying that ‘one needs no help from the dead’ – the false charge against Idris Abdulaziz. “Truly you cannot cause the dead to listen” (Qur’an 27:80) But their belief is their belief. I disagree but can’t arrest or shut them down.

Every day, in Bauchi, on air, you would hear someone say “God has no son” – a core Islamic belief but blasphemy in Christianity. Similarly, every day, you would hear someone say “Jesus is God” – a blasphemy to Muslims. Why is Qaura not arresting any of these? Because our Constitution guarantees free speech and freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Idris Abdulaziz, too, enjoys these same rights.  Qaura knows this. But they have an agenda – silencing opposition.

Ironically, Idris AbdulAziz helped Qaura to become the governor in 2019, but shortly after assuming office, Qaura discarded him like he did many of his helpers including Yakubu Dogara and Bello Kirfi.

Since their fallout, Idris AbdulAziz has faced many venomous arrows from Qaura and his attack dogs. The attacks worsen after Idris declared his support for retired Air Marshal Sadique, the governorship candidate of the APC in the last election. Overzealous PDP elements have threatened harm to Idris Abdulaziz. They have been calling for his head and the demolition of his mosques, school and businesses. Who does this in a democracy? These people are fascists.

Last April, Qaura through his SSG threatened to deal with Idris Abdulaziz, yesterday’s arrest was the effectuation of the threat. Again, it’s not because of Idris Abdulaziz’s preaching, it’s a pure political witch hunt. The views expressed by Idris Abdulaziz were equally expressed by many preachers in Bauchi. Why aren’t they arrested?

In fact, as we saw, more extreme views were expressed by others, yet Qaura did not arrest anyone except Idris Abdulaziz. Why? Because Idris Abdulaziz is a fearless political foe, one with a megaphone, that must be silenced. The autocrats in the Government House detest dissent.

And you can see a pattern here: The publisher of Wikkitimes, Haruna, was arrested for doing his job. Qaura didn’t like it. He alleged that Haruna was working for the opposition. So he ordered his arrest and prosecution. Apart from Haruna, Qaura arrested a student union leader, Comrade Guyaɓa, for criticizing him on Facebook.

More, two kids were beaten and arrested in Azare in April 2021 for expressing dissent by heckling Qaura. And, when an elder statesman, Bello Kirfi, Wazirin Bauchi, disagreed with Qaura, he dethroned him, Qaura couldn’t dare arrest him though. Besides, Qaura dragged Dogara before the State High Court on trump-up charges. Indeed, many members of the opposition were arrested and prosecuted for criticizing Qaura either on radio or social media. Some have since defected to PDP in order to escape Qaura’s witch hunt.

Qaura’s witch hunts have to stop. Enough is enough. Idris Abdulaziz’s freedom of association, right to liberty, freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of thought, conscience and religion are inalienable. His basic rights must be respected and protected. Arresting him goes against everything good about us. It’s condemnable. Therefore, he and all prisoners of conscience must be freed immediately. Qaura should grow up and allow opposition their space. Suppressing dissenting voices is fascism. Like all fascists, he will lose.

Saad, a lawyer is the Acting Chairman of APC Publicity Committee, Bauchi State and former Director-General of BASEPA


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