The Islamic Movement in Nigeria has said that the move by the police to arrest its leaders and members nationwide was targeted at curtailing their religious freedom and liberty.
The group stated that the planned arrest was aimed at preventing its members from conducting their religious mourning obligations, noting the Federal Government, has since 2015, exploited the commencement of the first month of the Islamic calendar “to persecute, kill and maim Shi’ites.”
The sect vowed to carry out its annual Ashura procession as well as continue the struggle for the freedom of IMN leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and the others still in detention.
Sunday PUNCH had reported that the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, in a signal dated August 30, 2019, ordered a special police team to arrest all identified Shi’ite leaders and dismantle their structures nationwide.
He blamed the sect for the death of DCP Umar Usman and a youth corps member, Precious Owolabi, during a police clash with the Shi’ites on July 22 in Abuja, and hinged the directive on the proscription of the IMN by a court.
But the Shi’ites in their reaction on Sunday, stressed that the arrest order “underlines the evil intention of the government to continue this pattern of attacks against Shia Islam and prevent us from conducting all our Muharram religious mourning obligations.”
The President, Media Forum of IMN, Ibrahim Musa, who signed the statement, said the movement had challenged the proscription order in court, arguing that El-Zakzaky was not a security threat to Nigeria or any other country.
He said, “It is on record that the (President Muhammadu) Buhari administration, since its inception in 2015, has always used the commencement of the first month of the Islamic calendar, Muharram to persecute, kill and maim us and deny us any space to conduct all our religious rites expected of all Shi’ites.”
Musa disclosed that the Sokoto police command had commenced a show of force parade at a neighbourhood in Sokoto with a large population of Shi’ite members.
This, he said, was done in violation of a substantive court order from a Sokoto High Court obtained on January 31, 2018, restraining the police force from curtailing the activities of the IMN in the state.
Musa further alleged that it was decided in a meeting held in Kaduna, that vigilantes should be engaged to clampdown on Shi’ites during their Ashura mourning procession in Kaduna and environs to augment attacks by the police command.
The group said, “The Buhari administration cannot continue to hide its incompetence and inadequacies in remedying the major problems confronting Nigeria by manipulating religious sentiments simply to score some cheap political points.
“Members of the Islamic Movement will most certainly remain steadfast and continue with all our religious programmes and activities of Ashura mourning as well as the peaceful struggle for the freedom of Sheikh Zakzaky and the hundred others still in detention since the infamous Zaria genocide of December 2015.”