About three weeks after the assassination of Sheikh Ja’afar, the police authorities have not been able to come up with even a preliminary report on who are likely behind the killing of the Sheikh. As a matter of fact, some of those I discussed this issue with were so pessimistic that they did not believe we will ever be able to know those who killed the Imam. As one man pointed out, perhaps only time will be able to give us a few clues as to who may likely be linked up with the murder. Meanwhile, in the absence of any information from the appropriate authorities regarding the murder of this extremely important Islamic scholar, people in Kano are currently bandying around all sorts of conspiracy theories, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. However, some theories sound credible enough to command attention and reflection on past incidences, which could be added up to give an insight into the matter.
The first, and indeed the most uncharitable of all, is the one insinuated by the Hausa Service of a foreign radio station shortly after the news broke out. According to the radio station, Sheikh Ja’afar had been an ally of Kano State government before he broke ranks with it and became one of its most strident critics. The inference here is that the government might have decided to deal with one of its critics. For those who are aware of the extent at which the government referred to is strictly being ran in accordance with the Islamic code as enshrined in the Shari’a, as well as its legendary tolerance of the excesses of its critics, this inference is most inaccurate.
The second theory was drawn from a subsequent event: the attack on a police station at Panshekara where several policemen where reported to have been killed. This was linked to two previous attacks on the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) headquarters and the Sharada police station, where some officers of the two agencies were killed and a vehicle, uniforms and arms stolen. Those who were looking for clues for the unwarranted murder of the Sheikh hurriedly concluded that the Panshekara attackers, who were described as mostly non-Nigerians, must have been the killers of Sheikh Ja’afar. But the mysterious Arab-speaking attackers must have surprised those who belonged to this school of thought when they attributed their action to lack of security in the country which led to the killing of the Sheikh.
The next theory is the one most people fleetingly reflected on when the news broke out. It is common knowledge that Sheikh Ja’afar was for some years locked in a bitter misunderstanding with, particularly, the boisterous young torch-bearers of the Qadiriyyah sect. As a member of the Izala sect, the quarrel between the late Sheikh and members of the Qadiriyyah sect was basically ideological and insubstantial, but it persisted bitterly nonetheless. Some people therefore thought that the quarrel might have escalated to reach that extent.
The fourth is somewhat preposterous. After the attacks on the FRSC and the police station at Sharada some people believe the police had reckoned that it was the followers of Sheikh Ja’afar that had carried out the attacks. In fact, the state police command was reported to have insisted that the attacks were not related to politics but carried out by “fundamentalists” because those who did it shouted “Allahu Akbar.” Despite refutations by Islamic scholars the police authorities maintained their stand. And so, those who believe in this theory suspect that the police must have blamed the Sheikh for the attacks, which resulted in the killing of senior officers including an ASP, and decided to retaliate extra-judicially by killing the Imam.
The fifth and last of the theories links the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with the murder. Those who are close to the late Sheikh Ja’afar know that over the years local security agencies had on several occasions invited him for dialogue over his alleged links with an organization called Al-Muntada Al-Islami. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks on the United States, the CIA listed this organization as being linked with al-Qaeda. It alleged that Al-Muntada received financial aid from al-Qaeda in order to carry out some activities in Nigeria.
Knowing the propensity with which the CIA murders suspects it could not tame world-wide, especially since it intensified its frenzied war against terrorism, it is not altogether out of place if the American organization is suspected for the killing of Sheikh Ja’afar. The Sheikh was not one to be cowed to stop doing what he believed was promoting the cause of Islam, even if his life was at stake.
The above conspiracy theories were actually precipitated by the fact that no news came from the police with regard to the heinous crime. People are bound to speculate considering the circumstances leading to the murder. The police authorities will therefore do well to keep the people informed about their investigations so as to stop the spread of these rumours. I cannot conclude this piece without paying tribute to the Sheikh, whom I had come in contact with in the past few years. As permanent secretary (special services) I was a member of the board of directors of the Hisbah Board. Until over a year ago when he resigned, Sheikh Ja’afar was also a member of the board.
On few occasions we sat close to each other at the table during meetings, when I had the opportunity to engage in conversation with the late Sheikh, I found him to be a calm and collected person, highly intelligent and quiet. Unless called upon to talk, or there was a matter that compelled him to speak, he often listened attentively to what other people had to say. And when it was time for him to speak, you could easily realize how deeply insightful and intelligent the man was.
Sheikh Ja’afar resigned from the Hisbah Board, according to him, because the state government was dragging its feet with regard to the implementation of the Shari’a in the state. I reckon that before his death, Sheikh Ja’afar must have realized the futility of his quest for exuberant implementation of the Shari’a and appreciated the need for a steady approach to the issue. May Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam rest in perfect peace, ameen.
Mohammed, former Editor-in-Chief of Triumph Newspapers, Kano. He can be reached at
Culled from www.mpac-ng.org