The Shiites in Nigeria have a strong affinity with Iran. It is a country regarded as the hub of global terrorism and the Shiites in Nigeria operates under the deceptive tag of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).
Over the years, they have remained audacious outlaws. Days back, the sect members again violently clashed with the Nigerian police, which attempted to stop their illegal procession to Zaria from Kano city.
The violent interface with the police occurred despite the ban slammed on the sect both by the Kano state Police and the Kaduna State Government in Nigeria. In all the instances of the loathsome sect’s clashes with security agents in the country, they disguise under the banner of religious processions, weird in its entirety and in dissonance with laws of the country.
Led by an Islamic preacher, Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, for nearly four decades, Shiites in Nigeria have proved to be a thorn in the flesh of Nigerians, with their irreligious bluster, strange doctrines and easy inclination to violence. Zaria, Shiites or IMN’s host community and precisely, their headquarters in Kaduna state of Nigeria has known no peace since its introduction in Nigeria.
Therefore the sect’s recent clash with the Police and other such violent confrontations with members of the public is just an apt reminder of the adroit disposition of these irreligious miscreants, as above laws of the land, who can even attack law enforcement officers on lawful duty.
In the latest encounter with the Police last Monday, another Shiites leader, Sheik Sanusi Abdulkadir Koki, led the Shiites from Kano city on a procession to Zaria for the annual feast of Ashura or what they also refer to as the Arbaeen Trek to Zaria for mourning martyr Imam Husain (AS). And at Kwanar Dawaki in Dawakin Kudu LGA of Kano state, the police sought to stop the sect’s procession, having received complaints about its illegal procession, with a high tendency to cause its usual public disturbances or breach of peace.
Like in the case of the clash with Nigerian soldiers in December 2015, rather than obey the police order, the Shiites exhumed their inclination to violence by aggressively confronting the police, with dangerous weapons, resulting in deaths on both sides.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Potiskum, Yobe state, the preceding day, road blocks mounted by Nigerian soldiers on the outskirts of the town tracked down Shiites members in trucks heading to Kano, the first destination of this year’s annual Arbaeen Trek, from where they would move in a procession to Zaria.
Surprisingly, when a check was conducted on them, assorted dangerous weapons, such as guns, knives, cudgels, cutlasses, bows and arrows among others were found in their possession. One would think they were on a hunting expedition; a tale more believable than their claims of journeying for a religious feast. It was testimony to the bizarre doctrines of Shiites as well as the indulgence of body and soul of adherents in violence.
The IGP, Ibrahim Idris Kpotum also testified to the violence-prone nature of the Shiites, who create avoidable upheavals frequently.
Kpotum explained that the Shiites, “Attacked our officers, killed one of our officers, one has sustained an arrow wound on his head.”
This obviously illegal assemblage of Shiites mobilized their members from parts of the North with a mission to congregate in Zaria, the same state; government had declared the sect and its activities illegal. But the most resentful aspect of the entire drama is the Shiites guts to kill and injure state security agents so wantonly.
Had the police reacted to Shiites senseless affront, which was capable of provoking state reprisals, more deaths would have been recorded. And the same sect would have rushed to public domain with all manner of accusations against the Police, including the use of unreasonable force on Shiites.
Like the IGP noted, it is the constitutional duty of the police to stop any aberration on public law and order. The confrontation of the Police and killing of any officer by the sect is condemnable in all ramifications.
Human Rights organizations have again remained mute, because they feel security agents in Nigeria don’t have rights to be protected or deserve to live. And when organizations like Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch eventually break their silence with a report, the security agents would be the first casualty of their songs of human rights violations. This is unacceptable!
Governor el-Rufai revealed while slamming a ban on the provocative sect that IMN in Nigeria is an illegal sect thus:
“The Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Zaria Clashes of 12-14 December 2015 found that the IMN is not a registered organization, that it has a paramilitary wing and that its members do not recognize or respect the laws of the country and the duly constituted authorities that have the responsibility to secure and administer the country.”
It is difficult to explain why Shiites have failed to appreciate that since it is not a registered organization in Nigeria, the ban by KDSG has proscribed the sect in any other part of the country, hence the headquarters of the sect is in Kaduna.
Additional, what is the rationale behind a religious sect wielding lethal weapons in the guise of observing a religious festival? It is not only criminal, but stretching the patience and hospitality of government to cracking limits. The Shiites members responsible for the clash should immediately be arrested, investigated and prosecuted to serve as deterrence.
While commending the restraint of the Police to the beastly acts of the Shiites, the Nigerian government must ensure Shiite movement ceases to operate anywhere in the land until they do the needful by giving it a legal status and a defined decent code of operation.
Finally, the Kano incident has exposed the emergence of another Shiites leader in Nigeria identified as Sheik Sanusi Abdulkadir Koki who led the onslaught on security agents. He should be arrested and charged for murder of security agents and breach of public peace, before he recoups his sect members for reprisal attacks on the state.
Enough of the affront on the Nigerian state, by this decadent Shiite sect. As the sect scouts for paid conmen in the guise of human rights groups or some NGOs to defend their illegality, government should expedite actions for the arrest and trial of the suspected Shiites.
The recurring fact is that Shiites are not the only Muslims in Nigeria. But other Muslims worship in mosques and do not brandish weapons or attack security agents in the course of worship. So, why must Shiites conduct their religious affairs on streets or roads, with lethal weapons?
The actions of the IMN members in obstinacy demand deeper inquest by security agents. IMN’s links with Iran is suspicious and if taken for granted, Nigeria could be unknowingly breeding another wing of Boko of Haram terrorists with ties and sponsorship from ISIS. But like the sect fruitlessly tried to blackmail the Nigerian Army and the COAS Gen. Tukur Buratai in the Zaria incident; similar such campaigns on the Police in the Kano will also backfire.
Ikpa is Executive Secretary, Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency and contributed this piece from Abuja.