The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) also known as Shiites has vowed to carry on with their planned religious Ashura procession today despite receiving an order from the Inspector General of Police (IG) Mohammed Adamu to put it off.
IG Adamu had on Monday warned that anybody who joins any procession would be treated as a terrorist, stating that the IMN is outlawed.
In a statement by the Force spokesman Frank Mba, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), the IG directed all Assistant Inspectors-General (AIGs) and Commissioners of Police (CPs) to put measures in place to stop the procession across the country.
“It has come to the knowledge of the Nigeria Police Force that some members of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) intend to embark on a nationwide procession, ostensibly to cause disruption of public peace, order and security in the country.
“The Force notes that in line with the Terrorism (Prevention) Proscription Order Notice 2019 of 26th July, 2019, the activities of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria have been proscribed. Consequently, all gathering or procession by the group remains ultimately illegal and will be treated as a gathering in the advancement of terrorism.
“To this end, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, has directed the Commissioners of Police in all the States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja as well as their supervisory Assistant Inspectors-General of Police to put in place concrete measures to avert any planned procession and/or disruption of public peace by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, anywhere in the country.”
Mr Adamu urged members of the public to provide the Force with useful information as regards the activities of the proscribed IMN while asking parents and guardians to ensure their wards are not persuaded to join illegal and ill-motivated activities.
The police’s statement is a reaffirmation of the order made in July that no group should hold protest or procession on major streets in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, except at the Unity Fountain.
But IMN spokesman Ibrahim Musa said the group would embark on today’s Ashura procession in Abuja and in other cities despite the IG’s warning.
He said: “The government should not contemplate attacking us. It wants to act illegally on our matter. So, I think it is wrong to think that we are supposed to withdraw our plan to hold the procession.
“What right has the government to attack a peaceful procession? Constitutionally and legally, the government has no right to stop us. We should not be stopped by government from carrying out our religious activities.”
The IMN claimed on Monday that 60 of its members (including minors with life-threatening injuries), who were arrested since July 22, were yet to be freed.
On the claim by IMN, Mba said: “I don’t have information on that, but I will check and revert.”
In a petition to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) and the European Union (EU), it was alleged that the police planned to disrupt and attack it members during the Ashura procession.
Musa in the petition said: “We write to inform people of conscience, religious leaders, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), international community and the rest of the public of the Nigeria Police’s dastardly plot to attack the forthcoming Ashura procession scheduled for tomorrow (today), Tuesday, 10th September, 2019.
“It is pertinent to remind the Police that detaining more than 60 Free-Zakzaky protesters among whom there are young ladies and minors with life-threatening injuries, denying them proper medication ever since 22nd July, 2019 is a flagrant violation of their fundamental rights.
“A reliable piece of information reaching us disclosed that the Police are all set to assail the upcoming processional march across the country. Preparatory to this, the source also confirmed, Police will employ extrajudicial approach to assault, arrest or kill whoever participates in the religious event.
“The word ‘Ashura’ is derived from an Arabic word, Ashara, meaning 10, and in history, it refers to the 10th day of the 1st month of the Islamic calendar. It is a day for mournful commemoration of the brutal killing of Imam Hussain bn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (S). Imam Hussain was assassinated by Yazid bn Muawiyyah at Karbala in 61 A.H.
“To this pertinence, Ashura is a universal event which non-Muslims do participate, thus the mourning is global. For the past 40 years, Muslims have been conducting Ashura mournful processions in this part of the world. Last year, September, 2018, the procession was conducted in Abuja and many other cities across Nigeria, including FCT, which ended peacefully without any hitch from the police.
“Unfortunately, however, the Police are prepared this time around to launch an unprovoked attack on the same mourners from whom they chose to look the other way last year.
“It is worthy of note that we are Muslims and Ashura procession in mourning is one of our religious rights. We cannot afford to allow politicians, pseudo-politicians as well as the police to deprive us of our rights to freedom of thought and religion.”