IMN: Three of our members were killed λPolice: It’s a lie
embers of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) otherwise called Shi’ites yesterday clashed with the police in major cities in the North.
In Kaduna, the IMN accused the police of killing three of its members during its procession commemorating “Ashura,” an annual religious rite.
But in swift reaction, the police denied the allegation, saying the Shi’ites were mischievous.
However, the IMN spokesperson, Ibraheem Musa, told journalists that despite those killed, 10 other members of the group sustained various degrees of injury during the procession.
Musa said the police opened fire on their procession which started at about 6a.m., along the Nnamdi Azikwe Eastern bypass, not far from the metropolis.
The spokesman said they were approaching Bakin Ruwa in Rigasa area, one of the major junctions leading to the Kaduna-Abuja Railway Station, when the police started shooting at their members, who were moving by the side of the highway.
He said: “We started the procession early in the morning, about 6a.m., along the Western bypass.
“As we were moving by the side of the highway, the police arrived and started shooting.
“As of now there are three of our members that were killed and 10 people were injured.
“We were approaching Bakin Ruwa, in Ragasa area when the police attacked us. The procession was disrupted by the police and our members were dispersed with tear gas.”
But the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Yakubu Sabo, described the allegation as mischievous, saying that it was not true.
Sabo said the protesters were dispersed professionally, and that the police did not kill any of the protesters.
Meanwhile, there was security presence across the metropolis and environs even as residents went about their daily activities.
Later Sabo said IMN molested other road users and attacked security agents.
Sabo, in a statement, said that the ban on procession in the state was still very much in place and the IMN members should have been aware.
He said: “About 6.55a.m., we received information that members of the outlawed IMN popularly known as Shi’ites came out en mass on Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway, Kaduna and at Kasuwan Mata area of Zaria city respectively on procession in respect of the annual Ashura Day, blocking the public highways, causing traffic jam and molesting commuters.
“It is on record that both the Federal Government of Nigeria and the government of Kaduna State have separately proscribed the group (IMN). Thus, teams of policemen quickly dispatched to the areas with a view to dispersing the unlawful assembly and to manage the traffic.
“However, on sighting the police, the protesters started throwing stones at them, hitting them with iron bolts, using catapults. The situation became very tensed and members became violent and unruly.
“In view of these therefore, minimum force was used in dispersing them. Four suspects were so far arrested and are being investigated. We have also recovered some exhibits which include catapults and iron bolts.
“The police succeeded in dispersing the unlawful assembly and brought the situation under firm control.”
The Shi’ites also clashed with the police in Bauchi.
The confrontation started about 10a.m., at the Central Market Roundabout and Tashan Babiye areas of Bauchi metropolis.
The police reportedly fired canisters of tear gas and gunshots to disperse the protesters. This forced the people to scamper for safety.
Witnesses said several people sustained gunshot wounds.
One of the witnesses said the police also arrested many Shi’ites.
“Early in the morning, the Shi’ites gathered to embark on their usual procession, but the police blocked the road and fired tear gas to disperse them.
“The police also fired gunshots and many were injured. Several others were arrested and taken away in police vehicles. Those injured were taken to the hospital. I heard that the Shi’ites also stoned the police. Although I didn’t witness that part, I was only told.
“I was around the Central Market about 10a.m., up to about noon. All the shops around that area were closed down and people ran for their lives. This is because the tear gas got to the traders who were in their shops. The houses around that area were also affected.
“Later on, the police started arresting people. The tear gas also affected pupils in a school around that area,” the witness said.
He said the police barricaded the road although motorists were driving slowly but it caused gridlock. Some people had to take alternative routes to get to their destinations.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Bauchi State, Alhaji Ibrahim Mallam-Goje, was also caught up in the incident.
Mallam-Goje said he also suffered from the tear gas that was fired by the police at Tashan Babiye around Bakin Kura area.
The state PPRO, DSP Kamal Datti, said that 28 IMN members were arrested.
In Abuja, the Shi’ites also defied heavy presence of security operatives to hold their Ashura procession.
The police had warned the sect to suspend the planned procession; saying that IMN had been proscribed by a court.
But the Secretary of the Academic Forum of the IMN, Abdullahi Musa, had issued a statement countering the position of the police.
He also invited members and other Islamic religious leaders to participate in the Ashura procession.
Shi’ites in defiance to the order trooped out in their hundreds, held the Ashura procession.
Despite the heavy presence of almost all the security agencies along major roads leading to Abuja City Centres, members of the sect still found their way and marched along Wuse, Berger Junction and Area 1, within the nation’s capital.
In their usual manner, the Shi’ites formed themselves into men, women and children groups for the procession. The exercise was, however, done within 30 minutes to avoid open confrontation with security personnel.
But the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, had said that the order stopping yesterday’s procession did not affect Muslim faithful observing the Ashura.
He said those affected by the ban were members of IMN, who had been designated as “terrorists”.
The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Frank Mba, said in a statement that Adamu gave the clarification following enquiries on the state of affairs.
Mba said the police chief had directed Commissioners of Police across the 36 State Commands and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and their supervising Assistant Inspectors General, to give effect to the ban.
He said: “…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.”
However, the police said that there was no procession by IMN in Kano as they drafted armed personnel in and around the state.
The state PPRO, DSP Abdullahi Haruna, said they had as early as possible ensure the presence of armed policemen to give peace a chance in the state.
However, reports said the fear of being killed prevented the Shi’ites from carrying out their procession.
An IMN member, who did not want his name in print, said they refused to come out knowing full well that there would be casualties at the end.
He said: “Anytime we came out we ended up losing our members and that is why this time around we refused to come out.”
It was learnt that some groups carried out the procession around their late leader’s home at Dala Shiek Muhammad Turi.
But the IMN spokesperson, Musa, said in a statement said in another statement that a dozens of their members were killed across the country.
Musa said what happened was a shame of a nation “who claims to be practicing democratic principles”. He, however, said that there was no crisis in Kano as they carried out their procession peacefully without hitches.