Shiites defy police order, hold procession
Members of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) Tuesday defied their proscription by the Nigeria police to hold the annual Ashura procession.
The Ashura procession is an annual religious ritual carried out by the Shia Islamic sect all over the world on September 10. It marks the day that Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, was killed in the Battle of Karbala.
Also known as Shiites, the group consisting of men, women, and children began the procession at about 7:00 am from Berger Roundabout to Wuse, Abuja. They hurriedly concluded the exercise to avoid a confrontation with Nigeria’s security operatives.
Apart from Abuja, the Shiites also observed the procession in Kaduna State.
“The procession is to mourn the massacre of the prophet’s grandson who was brutally killed on the 10th of Muharram which coincides with tomorrow, 10th of September,” a member of IMN media forum Ibrahim Musa said on Monday.
The Nigerian government Tuesday, July 30 officially proscribed the Shiites, a few days after a court outlawed the Islamic group whose recently clashes with the police has left many dead.
“In consequence, henceforth, any person engaged or associating, in any manner that could advance the activities of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria, shall be treated as a terrorist, enemy of the State,” Nigeria’s inspector-general of police Mohammed Adamu said at a press conference in Abuja.
“The import of this is that all forms of procession or protest by IMN is now illegal and thus banned.”
The Shiites Thursday, August 8 dragged the Nigerian Government to court over the proscription, saying the action is a violation of their constitutional rights to worship and freedom of association. They contended that the order was made without jurisdiction and also made against a non-juristic body.
While the Shiites insisted on holding the protest despite being banned by the government, Nigeria police beefed up security in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)and other parts of the country where the procession is likely to hold.
The Guardian Monday witnessed the deployment of police personnel and vehicles especially around the Eagle Square area in Abuja.
Nigeria police spokesman Frank Mba said the activities of the IMN have been proscribed and “Consequently, all gathering or procession by the group remain ultimately illegal and will be treated as a gathering in the advancement of terrorism.”