Last Sunday (22/10/17), peaceful Free Zakzaky processions were held in major towns and cities across Northern states calling on the Buhari administration to comply with the nearly one-year old federal high court ruling on the release of Sheikh Zakzaky from illegal detention. Processions ended peacefully except in Kaduna and Sokoto where armed policemen attacked the peaceful marches.
In Kaduna metropolis, a contingent of well armed policemen was drafted to the scene of the peaceful protest along the busy Ahmadu Bello way and opened fire on the unarmed protesters using live bullets and teargas. Luckily, there was no loss of life reported but dozens sustained injuries of varying degrees of severity.
The same scenario was played out in Sokoto, where the security men arrived after the peaceful protest has ended and participants were already leaving the scene of termination of the procession. Nevertheless, the policemen were bent on attacking. They proceeded to the Centre of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, carted away motorcycles left behind by some of the protesters and also made some arrests.
Unfortunately, Buhari’s government has escalated its hostility towards the Islamic Movement since the Zaria genocide of December, 2015. It is as if under PMB-led administration, the lives of Shi’a Muslims in Nigeria has no value. We have seen the systematic state-backed persecution and extermination of the Shi’a adherents in Nigeria. Clearly, the climate that has permitted mob violence against Shi’a Muslims as noticed recently in some quarters of Nigeria is directly traceable to the implicit and explicit anti-Shi’a posture of the Buhari administration, and that of Kaduna and Sokoto state governments as well.
The recent dispositions of Sokoto state government suggests that it is bent on cheaply buying into the violent anti-shia sentiments with a commitment to continue unnecessary bloodletting of innocent Shia minority citizens. There appears to be a return to this dangerous trend, perpetrated by the discredited previous administration. Once again, the security agencies are being alerted while thugs are mobilized and empowered to unleash violence on the Shiites.
We strongly condemn the needless disruptions of Shi’a processions by the military and the police anywhere in the country. It is the very definition of injustice and unfairness, and breeches our rights. If the government does not want us to carryout more Free Zakzaky protests, they must immediately and unconditionally release our leader from unconstitutional and unlawful detention.
In another development, we reliably learnt through some confirmed security reports that the government plans to carryout targeted arrest of some prominent members of IMN in the days leading to the eve of the forthcoming Annual Arba’een symbolic trek. We remain unperturbed and unshaken in our resolve to exercise our constitutional rights to practice our religion. Our Arba’een Trek is peaceful as it has always been. Nobody is being forced to join and it is a religious obligation re-enacting the untold suffering forced upon the household of the holy Prophet of Islam. It is a solemn religious event that can be seen enacted by Shi’a adherents worldwide. It will not be different in Nigeria.
PRESIDENT MEDIA FORUM OF IMN