Protests In Nigeria As Governor El-rufai, Accused Of Serious Human Rights Abuses, Is Scheduled To Speak At TEDx Event

Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) whose leader has been in detention for almost two years said in a statement on Wednesday that they were vehemently opposed to the inclusion of Governor Nasiru El-rufai of Kaduna state as a speaker in the prestigious TEDx event scheduled to hold this weekend in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.


The Movement had accused Governor El-rufai of human rights abuses following the killing of hundreds of IMN members in December 2015 by the Nigerian Army. Amnesty International had said that about 400 people were killed by the Nigerian Army in December 2015 in Kaduna state where El-rufai has been governor since May of that same year.
The Nigerian Army said IMN members had attempted to kill the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai. But, IMN members argued that they were just having a yearly celebration when the Army Chief came on a convoy and wanted them to leave and his men began shooting when they refused to comply.

Nigerian Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai

In the end, hundreds of worshippers were murdered while Sheikh Zakzaky, the leader of the movement, was arrested and has remained in detention for almost two years, despite court order.

Nasir El Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State

These killings, including the burial of corpses in mass graves, happened with the connivance of Governor El-rufai, a Sunni Islam Muslim who opposed IMN because they are Shiites, the Movement said, adding that it was a proxy war between Saudi Arabia in Africa and Iran.

IMN said allowing El-rufai, whose reputation had been tarnished by serious human rights abuses to spread ideas at TEDx event “definitely negates the spirit of TED’s mission of ideas worth spreading.”

In a letter sent to the organisers and signed by the Free Zakzaky Campaign Committee chairman, Sheikh Abdulrahaman Yola, IMN members said allowing El-rufai to participate in the event will “undoubtedly send the wrong signals to TED fans in Nigeria and globally”.

The Movement said “TED speakers are supposed to be thinkers, doers and idea-generators and El-rufai, whose government confessed to brutal extrajudicial killing of 347 IMN members and secretly burying all in a mass grave, does not fit that frame”.

“The name and brand of the TEDx program will be indelibly soiled in blood,” the letter pointed out.

IMN further observed that the governor’s continued fierce persecution without remorse despite national and international outcry will not “bridge the gap,” which is what the TEDxMaitama 2017 chose as its theme.

The full text of the letter of objection follows:

Dear Sir,

Letter of displeasure and protest for the forthcoming TEDxMaitama 2017

We will like to register our displeasure and protest at this ignominious action of having Malam Nasiru Elrufai the governor of Kaduna State as a speaker in your famous event. Elrufai is someone who by his own government confessions had undertaken the brutal extrajudicial murder of three hundred and forty seven (347) citizens of Nigeria without recourse to the law. To hide this his crime, he ordered the mass burial of these people in a mass grave, secretly at night at a location almost a hundred kilometres away from the crime scene, and afterwards denied it until exposed by the renowned Rights body, Amnesty International.

We are particularly irked that by having such a character as a speaker in the internationally acclaimed TED/TEDx event, the name and brand of the TEDx program will be indelibly soiled in blood!

Allowing Nasiru El-Rufai to participate in the event will undoubtedly send the wrong signals to TED fans not only in Nigeria but across the globe because it will definitely negate the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading.” TED speakers are supposed to be thinkers, doers and idea-generators. We do not see how Elrufai, who is currently being investigated for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court at The Hague, fits that description. What ideas would such a mass murderer and mass gravedigger provide that would be worth spreading?

A further inflammation of this shameful involvement is the irony that the TEDxMaitama 2017 that he is scheduled to speak has as its theme “Bridge The Gap.” Since the start of that massacre, and in spite of national and international outcry against the brutality against members of the religious minority group, Nasiru Elrufai has continued the fierce persecution till this minute without remorse.

Consequently, we wish to draw your attention to these facts as you seem poised to align your famous group to this blood-tainted personality. We wish to inform you that you will be breaking the hearts of your teeming fans locally and the world as well as millions of other persons should you allow Elrufai to participate.

By AbdulRahman Abubakar Yola


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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Based in Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America, Simon leads a brilliant team of reporters, freelance journalists, analysts, researchers and contributors from around the world to run TODAY NEWS AFRICA as editor-in-chief. Simon Ateba's journalistic experience spans over 10 years and covers many beats, including business and investment, information technology, politics, diplomacy, human rights, science reporting and much more. Write him: [email protected]


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