By Bashir Bello
Rabiu Shuaibu Abdullahi is a member of the legal team of the banned Islamic cleric in Kano, Sheikh Abduljabbar Nasir-Kabara. In this interview, Abdullahi accuses Kano State government of wrongly accusing his client of inciting the public. He gives a fresh perspective on the matter.
What can you say about the controversy surrounding Sheikh Abduljabbar?
On February 3, this year, around 11:30 am, we heard an announcement from Kano State Commissioner for Information that Sheikh Abduljabbar has been banned from preaching. His mosque and all his places of religious activities were directed to be closed with immediate effect. The following day, at about 5 am, security men were mobilised to his residence, library, mosque, school, and others situated at Sani Mainange in Filin Mushe.
Since then, he has not been allowed to come out and nobody was allowed to see him except his lawyers who got access to him after encountering many difficulties. The team of lawyers sat down and resolved that we should take legal action for the reinforcement of his fundamental human rights. His freedom of liberty was affected, right of movement, religion, assembly, thoughts, and life among others. We now filed a case before Federal High Court and it was slated for hearing on February 10, but the matter was not heard because we had two motions (motion ex-parte and motion of notice).
The judge said the matter itself is of urgency. Both are of urgency, so he would not entertain the motion ex-parte but will entertain the substantive matter on February 18. We will now appear before the Federal High Court for the hearing of the motion of notice.
What is the update about your plans to go to the state High Court?
We have two problems. First is the ban from preaching, closing of his mosque which touch on fundamental human rights and that is the one we took to the Federal High Court.
The second issue is an order given by a Magistrate Court in Gidan Murtala. That order was not properly given to our understanding. We got the order and observed that only one party (applicant) was before the court but not the respondent. We have never seen that kind of order before.
Recently, some lawyers said there shouldn’t be dialogue in the matter…
Yes, I read the view of my learned friend, Barrister Marouf Yakasai. He is a very good friend but, with all due respect, he did not even understand the issue. It seems he didn’t read the order of the court. The order banned Sheikh Abduljabbar from preaching and conducting other religious activities. It also stopped media stations from broadcasting his preaching and his alleged unguarded utterances.
What is the relationship between this and dialogue? Is he going to preach in that dialogue? Is he going to make unguarded utterances in that dialogue? Dialogue is different from preaching. It implies he will discuss with Ulamas. We welcomed the idea when we heard that government is now trying to do justice to our client by giving him a fair hearing. These Ulamas lodged a complaint against him. They said he is making unguarded utterances.
Let’s go back to the dialogue, is your client looking forward to it?
My client is very eager for this dialogue. I went to my client a few days ago on the dialogue. He said he is waiting for the dialogue and wishes it comes soon. It is with this dialogue that my client will enlighten the public on his intentions, interpretations and understanding of Islam.
Without the dialogue, justice will not be served and people will not understand what is happening. Without this dialogue, people will be deceived. They are already being deceived. And some minorities are deceiving the public and want to continue. That is why they don’t want this dialogue to take place because definitely, something will come out of it.
But your client is said to have a link with the Shiite movement…
My client has already answered this question in an interview with BBC. Let me quote my client. He said: “If you ask me, are you a Shiite? I will ask you what is the meaning of Shiitism? The answer you give will determine the answer I will give you”. These are the wordings of my client and I don’t want to add to it. If he is allowed to exercise his right of movement, will he be safe?
My client did not see any threat from anybody here in Kano except that from government who sent security men to guard him. At a meeting between the governor and the Friday Imams, penultimate Thursday, he (Governor Ganduje) gave them directives on what he wanted them to say in their sermons on Friday. He was instigating Imams to preach against him and he is now sending security men to guard and protect his life. Would you accept it? We don’t see any threat from the public but government. Our governor’s utterances are very scary.
The cleric was quoted to have allegedly said he is being witch-hunted for working against Ganduje in 2019…
This is purely a religious issue. Can you hide under Ulamas to take revenge on what happened during an election? He is not supposed to do that. Leaders are leaders because they have big hearts above their subjects.
But some people are saying government’s action is long overdue…
That is their view. Have you ever heard Sheikh Abduljabbar on radio or television station? He doesn’t take his preaching to public radio stations or television stations. It is through social media. It is you that will buy your data and log into the site voluntarily. Why would you log into the site, listen to him and complain? It is restricted to those willing and not the entire public.