Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Police in Zaria, Kaduna State, on Saturday dispersed members of Shiite Muslim group Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) while commemorating the 6th Anniversary of the death of three sons of IMN leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, and 32 others.
The event was in remembrance of an incident on July 25, 2014, there was a Quds Day demonstration in Zaria had led to the clash between the group and the Nigerian Army, resulting in the death of three sons of the group’s leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and thirty-two others.
According to an eyewitness, while the commemoration of the Quds Day programme was ongoing at Unguwar Bishar Cemetry, Zaria City, on Saturday, ‘six Hilux trucks with armed policemen stormed the event, and on sighting the policemen, the IMN members started chanting Allahu Akbar (God is Great) while the police fired tear gas and live ammunition at them.’
When contacted, ASP Mohammed Jalige, the Kaduna State Police Public Relations Officer, said he would reach the Police Area Commander, Zaria, and report back to our reporter.
As of the time of this report, Jalige had not gotten back to our reporter.
However, Sheikh Abdulhamid Bello, the Chairman, Shuhada Foundation of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Zaria, said the group was commemorating what it regards as the martyrdom of their members who died on July 25, 2014.
Six years ago, Nigerian soldiers raided a peaceful demonstration in the northern city of Zaria. The assault marked the beginning of a deadly campaign of crackdown against the members of #Nigeria’s Islamic Movement and their leader Sheikh Ibrahim al-#Zakzaky pic.twitter.com/qDWVED7q2u
— Press TV (@PressTV) July 25, 2020
He said the commemoration was an annual event which was usually observed by special prayers, lectures and visiting the tombs of their martyrs.
Bello said the event was aimed at remembering ‘our late members because we don’t want to forget our members who died in the unfortunate incidence on July 25, 2014.
‘For over forty years, the Islamic Movement annually observed the International Quds Day. The day is usually observed by the end of Ramadan and on July 25, 2014, our members were attacked in Zaria during the procession while observing the Day which led to the death of our members,’ he said.
According to him, prior to this year’s commemoration, the organisation had held the yearly event at Fudiyya School at Babban Dodo area, Zaria City, but that the police had cordoned off the area.
He added that the organisation moved the event to Darur-Rahma, Dembo, along Jos Road, Zaria (where the members were buried), but that the police had cordoned off the area.
‘We finally moved the event to Unguwar Bishar Cemetery and the police also moved to the cemetery and started throwing tear gas and live bullets on our people,’ he said.
Bello said the group was exercising its religious rights, and that they do not need to have permission or intimate the police over it.
He cited examples, asking that ‘must one report to the police before going to the mosque or conducting a wedding or marriage ceremony?’