IMN PRESS STATEMENT: Serial Violation of Our Rights Continue With State-Sponsored Hate, Violence and Repression
Today the Islamic Movement held a IMN press statement/conference on the persecution it suffered since the beginning of the first month of the Islamic calendar to date. Below is the statement read by Shaikh Abdulhamid Bello.
Good day Ladies and Gentlemen of the press.
Since the gruesome premeditated attack on the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) by the Army in December last year, we have never had it so bad, where our right to life as citizens of Nigeria is trampled upon like during this year’s Ashura season. We had a premonition of what was to come, when a devilish scheme to brutalize us was exposed earlier. The purported ban of our activities by governor El-Rufai was meant to be a trigger for the planned attacks. It indeed instigated the murder and destruction of properties of our members. Some blood thirsty Izala/Salafi preachers saw the opportunity to pour their venomous hate messages against the Movement and now even back it up with state-sanctioned attacks.
Soon after, our members attending the mourning sessions held at the Islamic Centre in Kaduna were the first to suffer molestation in the hands of security forces as they were intercepted on their way, arrested and charged to court. But it was much worse at the time the attacks became full blown.
By the tenth of Muharram 1438, members trooped out en masse to mourn the martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS) as it is the practice within the Islamic world. First signs of the scope of the attack on us came from Funtua, Katsina state, when heavily armed policemen, in broad daylight, opened fire on the peaceful march. That resulted in the premeditated killing of ten members on the spot. Several others sustained varying degrees of injuries, including women and children. To aggravate the situation, the police arrested 36, including underage people. Soon thereafter, the pattern of attack was almost simultaneously replicated in Kaduna, Sokoto, Kano and Jos.
In Kaduna, the Ashura procession was concluded peacefully. However, a contingent of security agents disguised as hoodlums ambushed members on their way home. This was followed by an organized attack on the Islamic Centre in the Tudun wada neighborhood, leading to the murder of 3 people, in the most gruesome manner. The video clip of that brutal murder went viral on the social media. Looting and wanton destruction of properties belonging to our members ensued and finally the centre was completely razed by sponsored thugs, under the watchful eyes of the security forces.
Jos, the Plateau state capital became a theatre of war against the Movement as well. Armed soldiers arbitrarily arrested women and children clad in black attire, a symbol of the Ashura mourning on their way for Ashura mourning procession. This was followed by the unleashing of terror by combined team of soldiers, policemen and street urchins on our members, burning the Jos Islamic Centre and looting valuable properties. Although no life was lost in the melee, the police and the soldiers at the scene displayed brazen disregard for life and property. A total of 46 members, including nursing mothers, pregnant woman and many underage children were arrested. Bail was denied by the police until recently after spending close to forty days behind bars. The precedence that the Movement has never been involved in the myriads of crises in the state notwithstanding, Governor Lalong, who was nowhere near banning the various armed tribal groups that have denied Plateau its peace for over a decade, suddenly surfaced in the media and imitated his Kaduna state counterpart, with an arbitrary and unjustified ban order on the Movement.
In Kano, the Ashura procession had ended peacefully before security agents masquerading as youth vanguard attacked people as they went their various ways. Three people were instantly murdered and many others sustained injuries. Over fifty members of the Islamic Movement, mostly women and children, were paradoxically arrested, arraigned before magistrate courts and remanded in prison custody.
In all the attacks of Ashura, certain pattern emerged that showed the centrality of planning and execution. The plot was schemed by the Nigerian security forces. In all towns where killings, destruction and arson took place, it followed the same pattern. Security forces had disguised as miscreants to unleash havoc. Both security personnel and thugs were ferried in official police vans. After the mayhem they unleashed, they proceeded to pounce on mostly women and children to arrest and detain. None of the miscreants was arrested and there has not been a single policeman or soldier identified in the attack that was arrested or punished for any of these atrocities. All these leave none in doubt that cleansing of Shiah and all members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria is now an official federal government policy.
Attacks on Arbaeen Trek:
Not satisfied with the blood they spilled during Ashura, security agents again plotted against the Arbaeen symbolic trek. The plot was again leaked and exposed, but being an official government program, nobody could call the government to order. On Monday 14 November 2016, a combined forces of military and police attacked a peaceful trek from Kano on their way to Zaria. At least a hundred people were lost to police bullets, and their corpses carted away to unknown locations. It is feared that they may have also been buried in mass graves in a similar manner they did in Zaria last December.
Desperate to cover their atrocities, the police are engaged in concocting stories. IGP comes out to brazenly lie about the glaring attack. This Kano massacre was done in broad daylight. There were many independent witnesses including non-Muslims who witnessed what had happened. Pictures and video clips of the trek before and after the police brutal attacks are also additional evidence that we weren’t armed at all (we have never been). We tried to avoid their attempts at disruption when we started the trek from outside the metropolis. We were trekking away from Kano towards Zaria and we didn’t obstruct traffic. It was the heavily armed police that scattered the hitherto orderly, peaceful and solemn procession. There was simply no justification for the police attack that unjustifiably shot indiscriminately, killing men, women and children, including an eight month old infant.
Not even in any of the pictures of our shot colleagues felled by police bullets did we see any with weapon by his/her side. There is no doubt that had we been armed, they would have shown pictures and video clips of us with the weapons. All we have seen are crude attempts to plant weapons on our members. This too we had much earlier alerted the public on the nefarious plot. The public is well aware that we never use weapons. Gone are the days when anyone, no matter his status or position, can just use the instruments of the State to just give a dog a bad name in order to hang it.
Federal government is responsible for all the acts of terror against the Movement
All these unfortunate incidents are not independent of one another; they are part of a coordinated plan to exterminate the Islamic Movement, which was started on the 12th of December 2015. The escalation of terror against the Movement in the recent past months is not unconnected with the broader goals of the Federal government to exterminate the Movement. The Arbaeen trek would have shown the futility of their actions in the past had they allowed the gathering and that would have sent some signals to their paymasters. Knowing that our Arbaeen gathering in Zaria is one of the largest in this part of West Africa, they dream of scuttling it.
We have noted with satisfaction that an increasing number of independent groups and individuals are boldly calling the government to do justice in our case. We appreciate their concerns and quest for truth and justice as they remind the Federal government that we too are humans and citizens deserving protection. We also acknowledge with contentment recent assurances in the ICC Report on Preliminary Examination Activities for 2016, in which it indicated that it is examining possibility that Zaria massacre and its aftermath involved crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute.
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria hereby calls on the general public to be mindful of the shameless disregard to civilian lives and properties exhibited by Buhari administration, and to unequivocally condemn it in its entirety. It is time to call Buhari and his cohorts to order. They should be reminded that they were not voted into office to kill those they harbour religious enmity towards. The life and properties of all citizens are sacrosanct as sanctioned by all sane laws.
Finally, we will like to reiterate our demand for the unconditional release of our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, his wife and all those being detained illegally since the Army massacre in Zaria last year. We also call for the release of all those unjustifiably detained since the pogrom started. We restate our call for the release of all corpses of our martyrs, buried in mass graves in Kaduna and Kano, so as to give them a befitting burial.
SHEIKH ABDULHAMID BELLO
HEAD OF MARTYR FOUNDATION OF IMN (21/11/16)