Abdullahi Danladi is a professor of Polymer Composite and Deputy Dean, Faculty of Physical Sciences, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State.
In this interview with MOJEED ALABI, Danladi prides himself to be the first professor globally to function as a driver and run errands for a fellow human being with lesser academic qualifications, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakyzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) otherwise called Shi’ites
As a professor, isn’t it demeaning working as someone’s personal driver?
How do you mean? Is it because I am a professor? What is demeaning in serving someone you regard as your spiritual leader, someone as your role model and a hero? It depends on perceptions and I do not believe, personally, that serving God is demeaning by any standard. If you don’t see driving a man of God as service to God, then what better ways do you serve your God? It is a privilege I so much cherish and nothing has granted me happiness better.
How have you been able to combine your responsibilities as a lecturer, a member of the university management and a driver?
In fact, I just finished my tenure as the head of the department also. I have seven children. My family is in Katsina; so I travel often. And I am also a farmer. You see, the most important thing is that you programme your activities.
Time is a commonwealth that is shared by both the rich and the poor; he who uses his time well is rich, and he who doesn’t is poor. It is about time management but a lot of people misplace their priorities. So when you have a lot of responsibilities as I do, you must synchronise them and prioritise.
But despite your relationship with Sheik El-Zakyzaky, you were not around on the day of the clash. What happened?
On that day, I was not in the country. I was in Iraq for the programme on the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, and from there I crossed to Iran. Unfortunately for me, on that same Monday, December 14, 2015, when Sheik was attacked and arrested, my plane touched down about 7a.m. in Kano.
I saw my absence as one of Allah’s miracles because there was no way I wouldn’t have been with him that day. My family was staying two houses away from his home, so my wife and children were there when the attack took place. In fact, when my wife was escaping from my house with two small children, she left five dead bodies in my sitting room.
The military entered there and shot them in cold blood. They were escapees from the attacks who had thought by entering the house they would be safe, but they were not. So my wife and two kids were just lucky, or I could say unlucky not to be among the people who were killed by the soldiers but were only asked to vacate the vicinity.
Was any of your family members affected by the 2015 crisis?
Well, maybe because of my weakness in faith, God has protected my family. Some people are having their children going to prison before them, by having the first six of their children and husband killed yet I only have two of my children in prison now.
My eldest son, Mohammed Abdullahi Danladi, a graduate of Civil Engineering from Bayero University, Kano, and he is a Masters student in Project Management here in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. In fact, he has finished both his course work and project work, he was just doing some corrections and just about to submit the final paper when the whole incident happened in 2015, and today he is languishing in prison. His immediate younger brother, Ibrahim Abdullahi Danladi, a student of International Relations in ABU here is also in prison just for being a Muslim, or if I should say a Shi’ite as we are called.
What is the status of their matter in court?
Their matter came up recently in court; the government has been producing witnesses. In fact, if I must tell you, there is this thing we learnt that the government is still planning to assassinate Sheik.
We learnt they would make public announcement that would lead to pandemonium and in the process they would kill him and claim he wanted to escape. What people have not asked is that why is this man being persecuted? Is there no longer freedom of religion in this country again?
Do you hear from Sheik?
Well, I wouldn’t say yes or no, but officially no! This is because they have denied us visitation to him, they allowed only his blood relations and when they come back, we hear from him.
Now, with the gravity of the massacre, do you feel there won’t be a reprisal from the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN)?
Truly, the Newton’s First Law of Motion states that for whatever action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, one would expect reprisal but as far as the movement is concerned, we have our own method of doing things. One, we are guided by the rules of the religion.
The religion of Islam has procedures when issues like this arise and we are trying to follow the procedures duly. Yes, the soldiers on behalf of the state have attacked us, they have killed us, they have destroyed our properties, we have documented these things, we will not forget and we will not forgive.
One day, one time, somebody will pay the price for what they have done, either here on earth or in the hereafter. This is because even if you go to someone’s piggery and murder 1,000 pigs in cold blood and you go back and sleep, your conscience will tell you that there would be a repercussion for it.
If you go to the forest and just cut down 1,000 trees, environmentalists will catch up with you and call you a destroyer. This is not to talk of human lives. But for us, as members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, to organise ourselves and go and attack those who attacked us, never! It is not just our method of doing things. What Sheik is calling for is the establishment of divine justice. Islam as a system of life governs our lives. And these milestones are only but journey towards success.
History has shown that what is happening to us had happened to those before us. Here, not quite far in time past, Sheik Uthman Bn Danfodio, who led the revolution in what may be termed the Hausa Land of that time as it extended to the Adamawa Mountains of Cameroon, and parts of Mali, we should look at the history of what happened to him. What about the History of Prophet Muhammed?
Such persecutions had happened in the past. In fact, of contemporary times, Imam Komeni of Iran, the revolution that culminated into the Islamic liberation of Iran in 1978/79 was preceded by these kinds of atrocities. But here, as these things are happening now, it is not the first time that this movement is being attacked. Just about 20 years back, around 1996 during the late General Sani Abacha’s time, there was this kind of clampdown where people were killed. In fact, on September 12 of that year we came out for procession, and the following day, September 13, the soldiers attacked us and there and then 11 people were killed. During the few years Abacha was in power, I think about 66 people among us were killed.
Col. Hammed Alli, the current Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service was the Military Administrator of Kaduna State then. When Alli was removed, he was back on the streets, unprotected and vulnerable. We knew him, we met him, we greeted. If it were to be in our nature to take reprisals, we would have just strangulated him. But we have our own methods of doing things; we are guided by rules and regulations.
That is why all the things the government is doing to infiltrate us and carry firearms, trying to create a situation where we would attack government places and individuals; it will not happen. They have their own plan and we have our own.
Even if we die in the process, life does not end by death, it is the beginning of another life. So reprisal is not in our plan, nemesis will naturally catch up with those attacking us. And for those who may live long to witness our victory, they will be caught and tried in court of laws. If we attack them the way they have attacked us, then we are not better than them because they have no dignity and no love for humanity.
Sheik has been away and shielded from the public. What are your prayers?
Well, our prayer and confidence is in Allah. Based on the violent attack on him and his family, it is a miracle that he is still alive. Only Allah knows how many times they have shot him. Someone who was shot in the eyes at close range to the extent that his left eyeball pulled out of the socket and used hands to pull it back.
He was shot in the thigh that there was no longer meat in the thigh and they had to do skin grafting taking from his left thigh to join his damaged thigh. Yet, today, he is able to walk round unaided and still not limping. They came with a mission to kill him but he is still alive. By human parameters, there was no way Sheik should still be alive today.
So the same Allah that has protected him till date will keep protecting him. We learnt that right now he has lost his left eye and the remaining right eye is also in need of immediate attention which the government has denied. We have no power to do anything but we will continue to protest peacefully, and will continue to pray, and use all possible means to get medical attention for him.