Jide Oyekunle, Juliet Oyoyo, Ahmad Tijjani Abdul, Chibuike Chukwu
Abuja / Kaduna / Kano / Lagos – Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), also known as Shiites, on Tuesday made good their threat to perform the Ashura procession across the states of the federation in naked rebuff of police warnings on Monday against it.
Arising from the clash during the procession, the movement on Tuesday accused the police of killing 13 of its members and injuring many.
The group alleged that the police opened fire on its members during the procession, killing 13 across the states.
The IMN made this claim in a statement by President of the Media Forum of the movement, Ibrahim Musa.
Part of the statement reads: “The Islamic Movement in Nigeria has confirmed the killing of at least a dozen of Ashura mourners across the nation during the peaceful Ashura mourning procession today, 10/09/2019.
“At least three people were confirmed killed by the police in Kaduna and 10 others injured, some fatally, when thousands of Muslim brothers and sisters trooped out in the early hours of today Tuesday commemorating the tragic events of Ashura.
“In Bauchi, reports also have it that three people were killed during the Ashura procession when the police attacked the mourners. Likewise three other people were killed by the police in Azare, also in Bauchi State.”
In Katsina, Musa said armed policemen attempted to force their way into the Islamic centre of the movement and opened fire on the members when they could not succeed.
According to Musa, “Another three people were killed by the police in Gombe, Gombe State. One person was reportedly killed by the police in Illela, during the Ashura procession there, and another person was killed in Goronyo, all in Sokoto State.”
Musa added: “These casualty figures may, however, rise due to the fatal gunshot wounds sustained by some of the peaceful mourners.
“This year’s Ashura procession was held in all the state capitals of the North and Abuja. It ended peacefully in Abuja, Jos, Kebbi, Minna, Lafia, Yola, Gusau, Zaria, Kano, Jalingo, Damaturu, Hadejia and Potiskum.
“Today’s show of shame and rage by the police across the states was sequel to the tragic orders given to it by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to brutally attack the peaceful Ashura mourners.
“That the mourning procession ended peacefully in places not attacked by the police is sufficient evidence as to who the instigators of violence are whenever we are carrying out our legitimate religious duties.
“We are grateful to Allah the Almighty that has granted us the courage to come out in several cities and villages across the country to commemorate the brutal killing of Imam Hussein (AS), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (S) as it is done in several cities across the globe, despite intimidation and threats by the Federal Government and its agents, acting on behalf of the Saudis by proxy.”
In the nation’s capital, Abuja, the protesters marched from Wuse market to Berger Roundabout, waving flags with Arabic inscriptions.
The placard-wielding protesters hurriedly dispersed on sighting armed policemen who had laid ambush for the procession.
Security operatives locked down the Abuja-Keffi Expressway, apparently to prevent the Shiites living in that axis from coming to the city centre to participate in the procession.
The checkpoint mounted by a joint team of the police and other security agencies led to traffic gridlock in the area, leaving many motorists stranded.
Ashura is the day set aside by Shia Muslims across the world to commemorate the brutal killing of Imam Hussain bn Ali, the grandson of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S).
The Shiites had on Monday raised the alarm over plans by the police to attack the Ashura mourning procession.
The movement stated that they had credible information that the force “will employ extra-judicial approach to assault, arrest, or kill whoever participates in the religious event”.
The IMN members were, however, absent on Kano streets on Tuesday.
The disappointing turn of event, the first in two decades of Ashura procession in Kano, might not be unconnected with the heavy security presence in the ancient city.
Police authorities in the city had deployed both combat ready personnel and weapons of war across major dark spots in a blatant show of force.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Ahmed Iliyasu, had over the past couple of weeks warned residents “on illegal assembly and procession”, and had on each occasion threatened to deal decisively with potential defaulters.
Sources told Daily Independent that the group had officially sought permission to gather and mourn, as well as round off the day with street protests but that the police granted the group permission to “gather and mourn” in line with Shiites’ practice, while denying them permission for streets protests.
As at midday, Kano was calm and quiet and residents went about their businesses in the city without fear of molestation.
Following the death of Sheik Muhammad Turi in a confrontation with the military in 2015, the IMN now has no clear leader in Kano.
Before his death, the quintessential scholar was believed to be second in command to the group’s supreme leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.