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Don’t hold procession tomorrow, police warn Shiites

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Shiites holding a procession in Abuja…recently. Kola SULAIMON / AFP

• We’ll march peacefully, not disrupt traffic, says IMN
• JNI flays Kano kidnap, Sharia council begins probe

From the police force yesterday came another warning to the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) which the security outfit accused of planning to perpetrate illegality.

It gave the warning in a reaction to the group’s plan to hold its yearly Arbaeen procession tomorrow, saying: “Since it (IMN) is proscribed, the police as a law enforcement agent won’t sit and look at people take the laws into their hands.”

Spokesman for the police in Kaduna State, Yakubu Sabo, told The Guardian: “It is our primary responsibility to enforce the law of the land. The Federal Government of Nigeria has proscribed them. You are also aware that the state government proscribed them too. So, if they are proscribed, you can anticipate what the police will do when they are seen engaging in any activities in the name of IMN.

“Anybody who disregards this warning will definitely be dealt with in accordance with law.”

But IMN gave no indication it would back down, insisting instead that the procession would be peaceful.

Members of the group clashed with security operatives in Abuja during last year’s edition of the trek. “Soldiers began to fire. They targeted protesters fleeing the chaos. Many of the injured were shot in the back or legs as they sought for where to duck and hide. Some were shot at close range on the head, chest and stomach,” recounted the president of IMN’s Media Forum, Mallam Ibrahim Musa, in a statement yesterday.

He, however, dispelled concerns that the march could turn violent: “We would like to assure the general public that this year’s Arbaeen, as usual, will be peaceful and devoid of any attempt to disrupt the right of safe passage to other road users. There is no cause for alarm over the Arbaeen trek.”

He reiterated the group’s demand for the release of its leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, “who has now spent four years in an illegal and unconstitutional detention, despite a valid order from a court of competent jurisdiction ordering his release. We will not rest on our oars until the revered Sheikh, his wife and others in illegal detention since December 2015 are set free.”

The purpose of the symbolic trek, Musa explained, “is to recall and experience the trial and tribulation faced by the household of the Holy Prophet, who were chained and dragged in the heat of the desert barefooted from Karbala in Iraq to Damascus in Syria after the killing of Imam Husain, 61 years after Hijra.”

Some residents of Abuja expressed sympathy with the group over its ordeal with security operatives. One Mrs. Godwin, a resident in the Dei-dei area, said: “Honestly, I think that these people should be allowed to do their type of religious worship. I don’t really understand why they are always shooting and killing them. It is so sad and I really feel sorry for them. Maybe President Buhari does not like them.”

Urging the police to confront kidnapping instead, she said: “We are afraid to move freely. Even the public transportation system has become dangerous because of abductors. So, I think these Shiites are not the problem the police should be chasing after.”

A security agent who sought anonymity, said: “I know that these people have been calling for the release of their leader. This has put them at loggerheads with the government. But I think it is not proper to continue to attack and even kill some of them. They are Nigerians who should also enjoy freedom of worship like everybody.”

Meanwhile, Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) has condemned the reported abduction of children from Kano State and their subsequent sale in Enugu State.

The perpetrators of the “barbaric” act “must be tried and sanctioned appropriately in accordance with the relevant laws,” said a statement by Secretary General Khalid Abubakar Aliyu.

Also, the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria said it has set up a five-man fact-finding committee to investigate the Kano incident in which nine children were allegedly abducted. It also instituted a 16-man panel to investigate the recent discovery of an Islamic reformation centre in the Rigasa area of Kaduna State where inmates were held under inhuman conditions.


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