FAITH organisation the Muslim Rights Concern (Muric) has urged the federal government to enter into dialogue with the Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria in a bid to prevent the current crisis getting out of hand and ending up in another insurgency.
Over recent weeks, the IMN has intensified its protests in Abuja, demanding the release of its leader Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who has been in detention since December 2015. As the IMN has protested in Abuja, its demonstrations have involved bitter clashes with the security forces and have become more violent by the day.
Earlier this month, one particularly violent clash culminated in the burning of police vehicles, injuries to persons on both sides and the arrest of over 40 suspects. This week, a deputy police commissioner and a youth corper were killed as the two sides clashed again and IMN has vowed to continue its protests until Sheikh El-Zakzaky is released.
Worried at the growing violence of the situation, the US mission in Abuja has urged its citizens in Nigeria to review their personal security plans. Now, also concerned, Muric has called for dialogue between the Buhari government and the IMN leadership.
Muric director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, said: “We condemn all forms of violence, so we therefore appeal to the supporters of Sheikh El-Zakzaky to review their strategy as the affair is getting complicated. Video clips have emerged showing members of the group attacking police vans during demonstrations while the police vehicles were seen manoeuvring their way to escape.
“The death of the senior police officer during the last protest cannot be wished away as policemen are also human beings. They have dependants and they have the inalienable right to live. Shiites claim that they did not use any weapon but did the officer commit suicide?
“This is why the Shiites need to urgently take another look at their current disposition as it is time to stoop in order to conquer. Non-Shiite Muslims who reside close to Shiite headquarters in Zaria have given damning evidence of the intimidation of neighbours by the Shiites in the days and years before the army’s attack.
“Those harassed included Christians and non-Shiite Muslims. This is quite worrisome and this discovery has made it difficult for those who are intervening in the Shiite imbroglio to absolve the group of any wrongdoing. Shiites should not be deceived by the hypocritical declarations of solidarity from certain quarters as most of such statements are made by people who are keen on exploiting the sectarian lacuna between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
“They are therefore empty, meaningless and politically motivated. Shiites are simply being egged on to self-immolation by inmates of the enemy of my enemy is my friend ideological camp who will disappear into thin air when it matters most.
“Due to past experience, Shiite representatives must be prepared to sign an undertaking that the group will remain peaceful and law-abiding if its leader is granted bail. These conditions must also include a vow to stop holding processions which obstruct traffic in anyway anywhere in Nigeria.
“Muric condoles Channels Television on the death of one of its staff at the scene of the protest. In the same vein, we commiserate with the Nigeria police on the death of the senior police officer.”