MEMBERS of the Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) defied a police order today and embarked on their annual Ashura mourning procession in Abuja daring the authorities to arrest them.
Historically, the Ashura procession is a yearly religious ritual carried out by the Shiite sect all over the world on September 10. Yesterday, the inspector-general of police Mohammed Adamu, had said that any procession by the proscribed IMN amounted to terrorism because the sect is proscribed in Nigeria.
Nigeria Police Force spokesman Frank Mba had said: “The force notes that in line with the Terrorism Prevention Proscription Order Notice 2019 of 26th July, 2019, the activities of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria have been proscribed. Consequently, all gathering or procession by the group remains ultimately illegal and will be treated as a gathering in the advancement of terrorism.
“To this end, the inspector-general of police has directed the commissioners of police in all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, as well as their supervisory assistant inspectors-generals of police to put in place concrete measures to avert any planned procession and/or disruption of public peace by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, anywhere in the country. The inspector-general of police also enjoins the public to avail the force with useful information as regards the activities of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria.
“In addition, the inspector-general of police has also advised parents and guardians to prevail on their children and wards not to be cajoled into embarking on illegal and ill-motivated activities by anyone or group of persons, under any guise whatsoever.”
However, the IMN defied the order and turned out en mass for the event in Abuja, using the opportunity to renew calls for the release of their detained leader Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky. Despite the threat of violence, there was no altercation between the IMN members and the police.
Participants including men, women, and children held the procession for a few kilometres from Berger Roundabout to Wuse and hurriedly concluded the exercise to avoid a confrontation with security personnel. As early as 8am, Shiites members were already on the road for about 25 minutes and caused traffic gridlock in the commercial area but there was no report of any incident.