Shiites, under the auspices of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), an umbrella group of Shiite Muslims throughout Nigeria, reported being intimidated and harassed by Nigerian army and police officers today in Katsina State. IMN and Shiite followers joined together in a peaceful procession to memorialize the daughter of the Prophet Mohammed, which they do annually.
In a statement from IMN media officer, Ibrahim Musa expressed fear that intimidation by the security agencies could result in violence directed toward the group.
According to the statement which reads in part, ”˜Reports from Katsina today have indicated that the Nigerian army is amassing troops in an attempt at a clamp down on the Islamic Movement in the town.’
Mr. Musa added, ”˜Early in the morning armed troops were seen surrounding the main Juma’at Mosque, where a peaceful maulud procession of the daughter of the Prophet, Nana Fatima (AS) was scheduled to take off.’
It will be recalled that in December the Nigerian army brutalized and massacred at least 300 Shiites in a three-day rampage.
The military then continued using force against the small IMN sect for several more days including hunting down the leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, assaulting him, plopping him into a wheelbarrow, and keeping him in secret detention. The military also killed several members of Mr Zakzaky’s family, burned down some of his businesses and destroyed his home and religious sites of importance to the Shiite community. The IMN still demands the release of Mr Zakzaky who is reportedly under medical treatment from injuries received by the military.
Mr Musa’s statement noted that this procession is a yearly event that has been going on in several cities across the Nation for decades without any incident. He also said, ”˜The IMN are amazed at what happened to our fundamental constitutional right to peaceful assembly and practice of religion.’