SHIITE sect the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has broken ranks with most other religious bodies in the country and thrown its full weight behind the government decision to ban all faith gatherings as part of the fight against coronavirus.
As part of the fight to combat the spread of the dreaded virus, the federal government has banned all church and mosque gatherings for the time being. However, the move has not gone down well with some religious bodies as several churches in Abuja had to be forcefully shut yesterday and in Katsina State, local Muslins burnt down a police station because they were not allowed to hold their Friday prayers.
Several clergymen has openly defied the government directive, with many of them even claiming there is a spiritual cure for the virus. However, despite its recent altercations with the government, the IMN has urged Nigerians to comply with health instructions and guidance, saying it was needed to protect public health.
IMN which was banned in 2019 for inciting violence said it has since embarked on a public awareness campaign on the need to comply with health experts’ advice. It is also distributing soap for the washing of hands to needy communities and had thousands of volunteers on standby in case they are needed for the fight against the pandemic.
Abdullahi Muhammad Musa, an IMN spokesman, said: “It has become pertinent on the Islamic Movement in Nigeria under the revered leadership of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky to call on the public and humanity at large to complement the efforts of health experts and comply with instructions and guidance to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus now taking a toll in our immediate environment Nigeria. Nigerians should endeavour to domesticate all guiding instructions that will stall the spread of the pandemic that include the washing of hands with soap, using protective wears like facemasks and hand gloves as well as staying away from gatherings.”
Sheikh El-Zakzaky is currently in detention facing several criminal charges including incitement, along with his wife. Unlike Nigeria’s majority Sunni Muslims, the Shiites are on the fringes of the Islamic establishment and seen as an extension of Iranian influence in Nigeria.