Shiites Hold Procession Despite Police Warning

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Supporters of El Zak Zaky on a peaceful demonstration for the release of their spiritual leader who has been incacerated for two years on the street protest in Abuja. Photo y Abayomi Adeshida 08/03/2018

Shiite Muslims in Nigeria on Tuesday proceeded with their annual religious procession, ignoring warnings by security agencies against the procession across the country.

The group, Islamic Movement in Nigeria, said its members were killed in attempts by the police to stop the procession across Nigeria.

The Police had said in a statement on Tuesday that it would treat the planned procession as “a gathering in advancement of terrorism”.

The Ashura procession marks the tenth day of the first month in the Islamic calendar.

The Shiite members said the police shot and killed three of their members in Kaduna and one person in Bauchi State.

The secretary of the group’s academic forum, Abdullahi Musa, told PREMIUM TIMES that there were shootings in various states where the protests held.

“We held the protest in Abuja and it has ended peacefully because the police did not meet us before it ended. But in Kaduna I understand that three people were killed when security tried to stop our members,” he said.

“There were also shootings in Lela, Sokoto state, Azare in Bauchi state and in Katsina state too, where the protest was held. They used teargas to disperse our members.”

The group was proscribed in July by the Nigerian government after one of its protests turned violent.

 The government accused the group of killing a police officer and a journalist, but has yet to show evidence backing that claim.

Last week, the United Nations special special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said the allegation against the IMN was “very problematic” and did not “in any way meet international investigative standards.”

At a press conference in Abuja, Agnes Callamard said Nigeria was a “pressure cooker of internal conflict”, and condemned rampant use of excessive force by the military and police.

Ms Callamard said in many cases, the government had failed to conduct effective investigations and meaningful prosecution.

The rapporteur said the Nigerian government had not presented any evidence to justify its decision to outlaw the IMN, saying the ban appeared to be based on what the government thought IMN could become rather than what it did.

[PREMIUM TIMES]

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