The Islamic Movement in Nigeria, also known as Shi’ites, said that there was no basis for the United States to extend visa restrictions to Nigeria simply because of their activities in the country.
The President, Media Forum for Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibrahim Musa, made this known to newsmen in Kaduna on Thursday in reaction to a former Nigerian Diplomat who cited the movement as one of the reasons the Trump administration might extend visa restriction to Nigeria.
The new restrictions will apply to travellers and immigrants from Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.
A retired Director of Trade and Investment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Rasheed Akinkuolie, had noted that Nigeria might have been placed on the US restriction list on the account of its large Shi’ites population.
Akinkuolie told newsmen, “There is a large Shi’ites population in Nigeria and there is a problem between the US and Iran over the killing of the commander of the Quds Forces, Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
He had added, “There have been demonstrations in many northern cities and even in Abuja over the killing of Soleimani and they even burnt US flags. That is a signal. Remember a Nigerian, Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to bomb an American plane on behalf of Al-Qaeda.”
However, the Shi’ites spokesman took exception to that reason adduced by the ex-diplomat, insisting that the group could not be the reason for the US planned visa restriction to Nigeria.
Musa said the Movement, over the years, had no history of launching terrorist attack, rather the group had been victims of terror, including the alleged extrajudicial killings of its members.
He also said the Movement has never taken up arms against the country or against any foreign Nationals or interests in retaliation, saying there was no basis for citing the Shi’ites for any US action against Nigeria.
The IMN spokesman said: “We are a peaceful Movement with no history of terrorist attack ever in spite of unfair profiling and blackmail.
“We have been victims of state terror – including the extrajudicial killing of hundreds of citizens and hurriedly but secretly mass burial in mass graves, which by any standard, is a war crime.
“Yet, we have never taken up arms against the country or against any foreign Nationals or interests in retaliation. Thus, there is no basis for citing us as the reason for any US action.”