A combined armed security team on Friday, 1st April has prevented Shiites, who are members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN from conducting the usual post-khutba preaching session at the Central Juma’at Mosque in Katsina. They besieged the mosque from the early hours of the morning chanting “no more Shi’ah in Katsina! ”
Even though the Shiites took the decision to cancel the preaching session in order to avoid spilling of blood of innocent unarmed Muslims by the military and other security agents, the security agents dispersed worshippers from the mosque immediately after the Juma’at prayers.
Worship places are supposed to be held in high regard, but the team of Nigerian Army and other security agents chose to violate the sanctity of the mosque and right to religious freedom by their actions.
Thereafter, there was a heavy security patrol across the main streets of the town ostensibly to provoke and instill unnecessary fear in the residents. Such a horrendous situation continued throughout the night.
Also in Yauri town in Kebbi state, there were similar measures taken by the security agencies there. And just like in Katsina, members of the Islamic Movement in the town suspended their preaching session in order to foil the determined efforts by the authorities to kill innocent Muslims.
Also, the Divisional Police Officers, DPOs in various towns in Kebbi state gave written order to the Shiites in their domain that they should cease all their educational activities or they face the wrath of their might.
The statement released by the group’s spokesperson stated that, “the Islamic Movement is particularly worried with this unfortunate development, especially in Katsina, where the Governor is reported to have vowed not to trample on the rights of worship by citizens. If what happened in Katsina is not a denial of our right to worship, what then is it?” The group asked.
It continued, “We wish to state here categorically that we don’t usurp other people’s right to usage of any mosque where we conduct our educational programs because we hold our sessions on convenient times and nobody is forced to attend. Hence, since this has been going on peacefully for over the past two decades, those trying to stop it are the persecutors and perpetrators of breaching public peace.”
“It is now vividly clear that there are some people hiding under the auspices of security agencies of our great country to achieve a sectarian agenda of a particular religious group. They need to be reminded by all peace loving Nigerians that we are in a secular country, and any attempt to persecute some people because of their religion, will not augur well for the well-being and development of our dear country and its democratic ideals.”
The rest of the statement reads:
These people, who do not believe in what they are saying, who are busy professing that one’s right stops at the doorstep of another, are the same people using the security apparatus to persecute brothers of the Islamic Movement for their personal whims. Other Nigerians must be wary of them, especially the Christians, because if they ‘finish with the Shi’a,’ as they keep on echoing, who will be next?
We dismiss as blatant lies that the movement is intending to usurp the Friday mosques, the Islamic Movement has never and will never usurped any mosque for its usage alone. We believe mosques belong to Allah not to any particular sect, as it is enshrined in the holy Qur’an. In fact we don’t even build our own mosques, just to preserve the unity and oneness of the Islamic community.
We are forced to ask the government and its agencies, whose interest are they serving trying to stop us from going to the various mosques in our communities? We believe that true developmental progress of any nation results from peace, understanding and harmonious coexistence of the citizens. Hence, any attempt by the government to launch a genocide on a particular group in not in the interest of the nation.
We wish to call on the authorities, Katsina and Kebbi state governments in particular, to let peace reign in their states. Denying others of their constitutional rights is an open invitation to violence, which the Islamic Movement strongly opposes.
It is pertinent to state here that the Islamic Movement in Nigeria is a peaceful movement that does not accept any form of violence in achieving any of its ideals. As a result of this we condemn the unnecessary instigations to violence perpetrated by the government.
We are still re-echoing our demand that our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and all other brothers and sisters of the Islamic Movement who are now languishing in different prisons and Army barracks across the country be released unconditionally.