By Akanimo Sampson
The obviously defiant Shi’ites have taken on the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, urging the government to look elsewhere in search of its plural challenges and leave them alone.
The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) gave this counsel while bemoaning the fresh crackdown ordered by the Police against their members, claiming the action is misdirected as the group is not a security threat to Nigeria.
Their plea came as suspected terrorists attacked a community in Taraba State, on Sunday morning and left at least 15 persons dead. Residents said the attackers were from Benue State, suggesting it was part of the raging Tiv-Junkun violence.
The attackers reportedly stormed and opened fire on residents, leaving dozens dead. About 20 suspected terrorists were also reportedly gunned down after Takum residents pursued them into the bush to ward off the attack, the local vigilante member disclosed anonymously.
The Taraba Police spokesperson, David Misal, told an online news portal on Sunday night, ‘’the attack occurred in the morning and security agents were deployed there. They have been combing the area to flush out any attackers who may be hiding nearby.’’
While the police said casualty and wounded figures would be determined after all threats in the area had been neutralized, the attackers were said to have slipped into Takum through the mountains of Angwan Abakwa and Wukari Road.
Locals suspected the deadly raid was a reprisal for the killing of a Catholic priest, David Tanko, in Kufai Ahmadu, near Takum, last week. Tanko was reportedly on his way to a peace meeting in Takum before he was killed and his vehicle set alight in the August 29 attack.
The peace talk was scheduled as part of an ongoing dialogue to resolve the raging violence between Tiv and Junkun ethnic groups in Taraba. Two days before Tanko was killed, several people were reportedly killed in the crisis, which has continued to escalate despite efforts by security agencies to curb it.
Apparently emboldened by the latest terrorist attack in Taraba, the Shi’ites called on the President Buhari administration and the Police to focus on the security challenges facing the country, such as incessant kidnappings, attacks by bandits and terror attacks in most parts of the north.
The Muslim sect claimed, in a statement by their spokesman Ibrahim Musa, that the Inspector-General of Police has issued a countrywide order to police commands to arrest members and leaders and to demolish their structures. It also claimed the crackdown is done to coincide with the first month of the Islamic calendar, Muharram.
‘’To this end, we want to draw the attention of well-meaning Nigerians and the international community to the fact that the major problem confronting this country is certainly not the free Zakzaky processions, but rather the security challenges characterized by incessant kidnappings, attacks by bandits and terror attacks in most parts of the North.
‘’The Sheikh Zakzaky-led Islamic Movement is not a security threat to Nigeria and Nigerians and has never ever been. Certainly, none of our religious rites, including the Ashura mourning sessions and its associated mourning procession or the moulud procession for which members of the Islamic Movement are well known for, can be of any threat to the nation. Even a child can attest to this fact’’, Musa said.
The Shi’ites’ Testimony:
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) has issued a nationwide order to all State Police Commands and Zonal Headquarters dated August 30, 2019 for the immediate arrest of members and leaders of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and the demolition of their structures across the states.
It is on record that the Buhari administration, since its inception in 2015, has always used the commencement of the first month of the Islamic calendar, Muharram to persecute, kill and maim us and deny us any space to conduct all our religious rites expected of all Shi’ites. This recent order given on the eve of Muharram this year underlines the evil intention of the government to continue this pattern of attacks against Shia Islam and prevent us from conducting all our Muharram religious mourning obligations.
Already, a parade of show of force by the Sokoto police command in dozens of vehicles has started in a neighbourhood with a large population of members of the Islamic Movement, despite the existence of a substantive court order from a Sokoto high court obtained since 31/01/2018 restraining the police force from curtailing the activities of the Islamic Movement in the state. Similarly, in a meeting held in Kaduna, it was decided that the El-Rufa’i administration will engage the vigilante groups to clamp down on any Ashura mourning session in Kaduna and environs to augment attacks by the Police command since the police has thus far failed to ‘finish’ the Islamic Movement.
To this end, we want to draw the attention of well-meaning Nigerians and the international community to the fact that the major problem confronting this country is certainly not the free Zakzaky processions, but rather the security challenges characterized by incessant kidnappings, attacks by bandits and terror attacks in most parts of the North. The Sheikh Zakzaky-led Islamic Movement is not a security threat to Nigeria and Nigerians and has never ever been. Certainly, none of our religious rites, including the Ashura mourning sessions and its associated mourning procession or the moulud procession for which members of the Islamic Movement are well known for, can be of any threat to the nation. Even a child can attest to this fact.
It is therefore strange that a fresh attempt by this regime to use all the paraphernalia of its office to brutally kill, maim and imprison thousands of innocent Nigerians, simply because of their faith at such a difficult time being experienced by Nigerians. The Buhari administration cannot continue to hide its incompetence and inadequacies in remedying the major problems confronting Nigeria by manipulating religious sentiments simply to score some cheap political points.
Members of the Islamic Movement will most certainly remain steadfast and continue with all our religious programs and activities of Ashura mourning as well as the peaceful struggle for the freedom of Sheikh Zakzaky and the hundred others still in detention since the infamous Zaria genocide of December 2015. We have since challenged the proscription order in court and should our rights and freedoms to worship be further infringed upon in any way, we will not hesitate to take all necessary legitimate measures to enforce our rights.
We are the followers of Imam Husain (AS), the Grandson of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). We will never bow and submit to tyranny, oppression and extrajudicial killings.