No fewer than eight members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, Nigeria’s foremost Shi’ite group, were killed on Wednesday as violence against the group spread to other northern states. While one member of the group was killed in Sokoto State, three other members were killed and two policemen injured in Katsina State while commemorating its religious rite called ‘Ashura.” There were unconfirmed reports that nine Shiites were killed in Katsina during the Ashura procession.
The group said in a statement late Wednesday that at least 13 of its members were killed in multiple clashes with the police and some hoodlums in Funtua, Sokoto and Kaduna. Kaduna, Katsina, Kano and Kebbi earlier had banned the group’s annual procession. Four members of the Shi’a sect were earlier in the morning killed in the Tudun Wada area of the Kaduna South Local Government Area when some irate youth attacked the sect, and torched the residence of its leader. The mob also demolished the Shi’ite’s Islamic school in the area.
The police in Sokoto said hoodlums killed a Shi’ite member in Tudun Wada in Sokoto North Local Government Area. The Deputy Commissioner of Police in the state, Alkasim Sunusi, said at a news conference in Sokoto that the deceased was attacked on his way to procession of the sect. The News Agency of Nigeria quoted Mr. Sunusi as saying that the victim was “seriously beaten and killed, while his Toyota Avensis vehicle with registration number BRK 144 CM was burnt by the hoodlums”.
He said the sect also engaged members of the public in a violent confrontation at Tamaje area of Sokoto South Local Government. Mr. Sunusi said three motor cycles belonging to the sect members were burnt, while one person was arrested with cutlass. The police boss said the command had since embarked on further investigation and called on members of the public to go about their normal businesses. In Katsina State, the police said at least three persons died during a clash between its men and members of the IMN in Funtua, Funtua Local Government Area of the state.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Usman Abdullahi, said two policemen were injured during the clash. According to him, the police arrested 46 persons comprising men and women for participating in the banned procession. He said the incident occurred when members of the Shi’ites group attempted to burn the Police Area Commander’s office in the town during the procession. The commissioner also said members of the group opened fire on policemen using Dane guns, which he said, compelled the police to retaliate, killing three persons. According to him, one of the sect members killed wore a mobile police uniform.
The commissioner said the police recovered five Dane guns, sticks, cutlasses, among other locally made weapons from members of the group. He said the police had intensified surveillance and patrol in the area to ensure safety of lives and property. Mr. Abdullahi called on the people of the area to go about their lawful businesses as the situation had been brought under control. NAN also reported that commercial and other activities were brought to a halt in Funtua, particularly on the roads leading to the Central Mosque, during the incident.
In Kano, hundreds of IMN members were chased away by some angry youth who disrupted the group’s procession in the Abbatoir area of Kofar Marzugal, wounding many of them.
The Shi’ites had planned to converge on Abdullahi Bayero Mosque, Fagge from where they would march to other parts of the state but were prevented by the youth. Some of the youth were noticed wielding dangerous weapons, including machetes, sticks and knives, to attack the Shi’ites who on sighting the mob took to their heels.
However, the quick intervention of the policemen deployed to the area prevented what would have been a bloody clash between the sect members and the angry youth. The police spokesperson, Magaji Majia, a deputy superintendent of police, who confirmed the incident, said the sect blocked some schools and markets in the area.
He said, “Some members of the public stoned and attacked them but we have to rescue some of their women, children and the aged. We rescued between 40 and 50 persons to a safe custody”. The Special Task Force on Jos Crisis, averted bloodshed in the Plateau State capital when some communities in Jos North Local Government Area clash Islamic group. A witness said the residents attacked the religious group and set fire on its elementary study centre. But another witnesses claimed it was the group that attacked the communities during a procession to observe its annual procession.
Media officer of the Task Force, Ikedichi Iweha, told journalists that the situation was quickly brought under control and that no life was lost. “Security agents have moved into communities in Anguwan rogo, Gangare, Katako and Anguwan Rimi to prevent a situation where anybody will be molested,” Mr. Iweha, an army captain, said. “However, the place is calm now, we will intensify patrols in that general area and appeal to people to go about their normal businesses.”
Meanwhile, a statement by the IMN on Wednesday said at least 13 of its members were killed in Funtua, Sokoto and Kaduna during the commemoration of Ashura in some major cities across Nigeria. The statement by the president of the media forum of IMN, Ibrahim Musa, said its members were attacked by a combined force of security agents and some others dressed as hoodlums as well as paid thugs escorting them.
“The procession of the martyrdom of Imam Husain started in Funtua, Katsina state peacefully, but was later stopped by a team of policemen who were drafted to the scene to forcibly stop the march,” the statement said. “After firing teargas canisters on the procession, the police opened fire with live bullets killing nine instantly and injuring about 20 others. There are reports that they went with some victims.” The group said in Kaduna, the peaceful Ashura procession was concluded without any incident but that armed paid thugs attacked some members of IMN on their way to their various homes injuring them.
It said this was followed by torching of Islamic Centre of IMN at Tudun Wada, Kaduna and subsequent demolition by a combined team of policemen and the army while three members of the Movement were killed there. It stated further, “The story was similar in Jos, Plateau state, where armed soldiers brutally attacked the Ashura procession, then proceeded to invade the Islamic Centre belonging to IMN, making some arrests while threatening to demolish the worship complex.
“Nevertheless, peaceful Ashura processions were conducted in Katsina, Yola, Potiskum, Suleja, Bauchi, Gombe, Lafia and Kano among many towns. In Kano though, the police arrested some Musulim sisters of IMN on their way to their various homes. These have been taken to Bompai police headquarters. A number of arrests were also made in Kaduna and were arraigned before the Shariah Court Daura road. These were sent to prison.”