The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and the Police are in a shouting match over the planned procession by its members across the country even as their Leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, are slated to travel abroad soon for medical treatment. IMN Spokesperson, Mr Ibrahim Musa said that Shi’ite members would embark
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and the Police are in a shouting match over the planned procession by its members across the country even as their Leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, are slated to travel abroad soon for medical treatment.
IMN Spokesperson, Mr Ibrahim Musa said that Shi’ite members would embark on today’s Ashura procession in Abuja and other cities, despite Inspector-General (IG), Mr Mohammed Adamu directive that the group remain banned from doing so.
The Police had said that no group should hold protest or procession on major streets in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, except at the Unity Fountain.
But the IMN vowed that the government cannot stop its annual procession.
The group maintained that government does not have any constitutional and legal backing to stop any procession by the IMN.
The IMN at the weekend accused Saudi Arabia of colluding with the Federal Government to stop the Ashura procession.
The spokesperson insisted that the IMN, under the leadership of Sheikh Zakzaky, “is a mass movement of conscious people who abhor injustice and oppression.”
Musa said: “There is no going back on the plan to hold the much talked about annual procession. The government should not contemplate attacking us. The government wants to act illegally on our matter. So, I think it is wrong to think that we are supposed to withdraw our plan to hold the procession.
“What right has the government to attack a peaceful procession? Constitutionally and legally government have no right to stop us. We should not be stopped by government from carrying out our religious activities.
“We are exercising our god-given right to mourn the massacre of the Prophet’s grandson and also constitutionally we have the right to the procession on Tuesday (today).
“It is the government that should consider our procession right and not we informing or begging government over our rights. This is not going to be the first we are doing Ashura procession. We have been doing it for years and it has been peaceful.”
Musa said that the United Nations (UN) has cautioned the government against clamping down on harmless protesters.
“I am assuring you that there is going to be Ashura procession in Abuja and major cities in the country. There is no need to inform the Police about our procession because it is an annual event. And it is their duty to come and give us protection and not to come and attack us,” he said
IGP Adamu, however says all activities of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) remained proscribed in line with the Terrorism (Prevention) Proscription Order Notice of July 26.
The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Mr Frank Mba, a deputy commissioner of Police disclosed this in a statement on Monday in Abuja.
He said all gathering or procession by the group remained illegal and would be treated as a gathering in the advancement of terrorism.
Mba said that the attention of the police had been drawn to plans by some members of the proscribed IMN to embark on a nationwide procession which according to him, is targetted at disrupting public peace, order and security in the country.
He said that the IGP had directed the Commissioners of Police in all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to avert any planned procession and/or disruption of public peace by IMN members.
He said the IGP had also ordered all supervisory Assistant Inspectors General of Police to put in place concrete measures to prevent the procession.
The FPRO said the IGP enjoined the public to avail the police with useful information as regards the activities of the proscribed IMN.
He said the IGP also advised parents and guardians to prevail on their children and wards not to be cajoled into embarking on illegal and ill-motivated activities.
Members of the IMN have always been undaunted in their resolve. Even after previous affront with the security forces led to the killing of their members, leaving many with severe injuries, they’ve never been cowed.
The heated exchange between the group and the Police is coming against the planned trip abroad by the its leader and his wife. After the last trip to India got into some brick wall, the couple is considering Indonesia or Malaysia as possible countries for medical treatment.
IMN spokesman who confirmed the development, said, “I know he said that they are going to look at other countries – Malaysia and Indonesia. I do not know if they have reached an agreement on that.”