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Nasir el-Rufai and General Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff, whose motorcade clash with the Shia triggered the massacre

The silence of Nasir el-Rufai’s graveyard

The governor of Kaduna State, the diminutive Nasir el-Rufai, is a case study in gravity-defying hypocrisy.

On Friday Amnesty International published a report about “mass slaughter of hundreds of men, women and children by soldiers in Zaria and the attempted cover-up of this crime demonstrates an utter contempt for human life and accountability” in December last year.

This massacre of Shia Muslims in el-Rufai’s state was confirmed by the Secretary to his government, earlier this month, when he told a judicial inquiry into the deaths that 347 bodies were buried in mass graves.

Governor el-Rufai has been silent since those disturbing revelations were aired. But he was not always reticent on matters concerning clashes between the Shi’ites in his state and the authorities.

Shortly after the clash in December, in which soldiers invaded the Shia headquarters and captured their wounded leader, Ibraheem Zakzaky, el-Rufai said: “The leader of the movement is in custody, he will be prosecuted for any crimes that he may have committed. But that is the decision for the federal authorities. There are state and federal crimes. There is a government and a constitution and we are resolved to follow the constitution and due process.”

His stance was very different in 2014 after another clash between the Shia and the authorities, which resulted reportedly in the deaths of four sons of Zakzaky and 31 of his followers. El-Rufai then wrote that the “genocidal Jonathanian army kills once again”.

El-Rufai bowing to Zakzaky while in opposition
El-Rufai bowing to Zakzaky while in opposition

At the time, el-Rufai was in opposition to then president Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). As a candidate governor and leading light of the All Progressives Congress (APC), el-Rufai courted Zakzaky. And it has been reported that the Shia cleric was instrumental in the APC winning in Kaduna State in both the governorship and presidential (s)elections.

See his Facebook post below:


After calling the killing of over 30 Shi’ites “genocidal” when in opposition, el-Rufai, now as governor with his ally Muhammadu Buhari as president, first talked up banging up Zakzaky for being a victim of atrocities committed by the army in December, and has now lost his tongue over the slaughter of over 300 people that were possibly APC voters.

If there is better evidence than this that the likes of el-Rufai don’t care about ordinary Nigerians, I’m yet to see it.

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