The Islamic Movement in Nigeria has raised the alarm that the police were planning to attack its Ashura mourning procession holding on Tuesday in Abuja and other cities in the North.
The Shi’ites said that they had credible information that the force “will employ an extrajudicial approach to assault, arrest or kill whoever participates in the religious event.”
The Ashura procession is an annual religious ritual carried out by the Shia Islamic sect all over the world.
A member of the Academic Forum of the IMN, Abdullahi Musa, who said this in a statement in Abuja on Monday, invited religious leaders, Civil Society Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations, the international community, journalists and the public to monitor the conduct of the procession “in order to expose those that are so desperate to cause violence for a pittance.”
The alarm was sequel to a report on Sunday, indicating that the sect and the police might engage in another violent confrontation during the procession.
Against the backdrop of the July 22, 2019 clash between the force and the Shi’ite members in the Federal Capital Territory which led to the death of DCP Umar Usman, a corps member, Precious Owolabi, and about 11 Shi’ite members, a Federal High Court, Abuja, had proscribed the IMN.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, blamed the Shi’ites who were protesting the incarceration of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, for the incident and subsequently ordered the arrest of their leaders and members across the country.
The IG in a signal to all state Commissioners of Police dated August 30, also directed them to dismantle the structures of the Shi’ites in the country.
But the Shi’ites in their statement said the Ashura procession was one of their religious rights which they would not allow the police to deprive them of.
It read, “A reliable piece of information reaching us disclosed that the Nigeria Police are all set to assail the upcoming processional march across the country.
“Preparatory to this, the source also confirmed, police will employ extrajudicial approach to assault, arrest or kill whoever participates in the religious event.”
Musa explained that the procession was held last year and ended peacefully, noting that the police were prepared to disrupt the one holding on Tuesday.
He added, “It is worthy of note that we are Muslims, and Ashura procession in mourning is one of our religious rights. We cannot afford to allow politicians, pseudo-politicians as well as the police to deprive us of our rights to freedom of thought and religion.”
The group alleged that the police were still detaining more than 60 ‘Free-Zakzaky protesters’ among whom were young ladies and minors with life-threatening injuries since July 22 without proper medical attention, describing this as a flagrant violation of their fundamental rights.
The Force spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, could not be reached for comment as calls to his phone indicated that he was busy. He had yet to respond to an SMS sent to his phone concerning the allegations by the IMN.