Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, Tuesday, clashed with the police in some states of the federation, with the Shi’ites claiming that at least 12 of them were killed.
But the Police reacted swiftly that nobody was killed in the latest clash with the IMN members, noting that four of the protesters were arrested.
The Shi’ites had said last week that they would embark on their annual religious rite, Ashura, procession Tuesday but the police warned them not to, saying their group, the IMN, remained a proscribed organisation.
According to the police, any procession by the member will be seen as terrorist act.
It was gathered that about 100 members of the group had gathered at Hayin Danmani Junction along Nnamdi Azikiwe Bypass in Kaduna where they proceeded on the procession.
Members of the IMN came out at about 6 a.m, ostensibly to beat the police who had earlier bowed to enforce the ban on public procession in Kaduna State.
However, half way into the procession, it was gathered that a detachment of policemen tried to disperse the gathering, leading to a clash between them and members of the group.
It was also learned that at the end of the encounter, three members of the group were killed, while about 10 others sustained various degrees of injuries.
However, the spokesman of Kaduna State police command, Yakubu Sabo, said no casualty was recorded as the police “dispersed the protesters professionally.”
He said it had become the standard practice by members of the IMN to claim that police killed their members, even when such incidence did not take place.
However, IMN insisted that 12 of its members were killed in a nationwide crackdown, including the three allegedly killed in Kaduna.
The group’s spokesperson, Ibrahim Musa, said in a statement that the killings took place after attacks on Ashura mourners in Kaduna, Bauchi, Sokoto and Katsina states.
The statement, however, said similar processions in Abuja, Jos, Kebbi, Minna, Lafia, Yola, Gusau, Zaria, Kano, Jalingo, Damaturu, Hadejia and Potiskum, ended peacefully.
Ashura, a Shiite mourning period in commemoration of the killing of Imam Hussein, a grandson of Prophet Muhammad, is observed on the 10th day of the first month of Islamic lunar calendar, Muharram.
The statement read: ”The Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, has confirmed the killing of at least a dozen of Ashura mourners across the nation during the peaceful Ashura mourning procession today, September 10, 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 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. Similarly, three other people were killed by the police in Azare, also in Bauchi State. Another three people were killed by the police in Gombe.
”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. In Malumfashi, Katsina State, another person was also killed.
”In Katsina town, however, several people sustained bullet wounds when the police opened fire on the mourners, not only during the mourning procession but also afterwards as the well-armed policemen attempted to forcibly make their way into the Islamic centre of the Movement.
”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.
”Tuesday 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.”
Meanwhile, Force headquarters stated Tuesday that the ban on procession it issued on the IMN on Monday was meant only for the Shi’ites Islamic sect which operates under the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN.
It clarified that non-IMN Muslims making the ‘Ashura’ procession with their counterparts all over the world were free to carry out their procession.
A statement by DCP Frank Mba, Force Public Relations Officer, said: “Following the deluge of enquiries concerning the ban on procession on the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, it has become absolutely imperative to clarify that the ban on processions is applicable to members of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria only.
“Against this backdrop, Muslims marking the commemoration of “Ashura” throughout the country along with other Muslims across the world are free to carry out the annual “Ashura procession.
“They should, however, do so within the confines of the law and guard against infiltration by unscrupulous elements who may want to take advantage of the event to cause disruption of public peace, order and security.
“Meanwhile, Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, has directed all Commissioners of Police and their respective supervisory Assistant Inspectors-General of Police in Commands and Zones to give full effect to the above clarifications and ensure that non-IMN Muslims are not in any way restricted from exercising their freedom of religion, worship and peaceful assembly.
“In the same vein, the IGP has enjoined members of the public to be calm and go about their lawful businesses as the Force is doing all within its capacity to ensure there is no breach of the peace, law and order anywhere in the country.”