KANO – Nine people including one police officer have been killed in a recent clash between the Nigerian police force and members of the of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) in Kano, the formal capital of Nigeria.
Thousands of members of the movement, commonly referred to as Shia movement, became involved in the confrontation during a march from Kano city to Zaria (in neighbouring Kaduna state) to observe the Ashura religious day of mourning.
A ban had earlier been placed on the activities of the group by the Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai, who believes that the activities of the group constitutes a security threat to the state and the entire Northern Nigeria.
For Shiite Muslims, Ashura is a sacred and solemn day. Historically, it marks the day in 680 AD that Imam Hussein, a grandson of Muhammad, was murdered in Karbala, in modern-day Iraq. Disagreement of events and the significance of that event is the reason for the division of Islam into Sunni and Shiite sect.
The clashes began when, according to reports, the men of the Nigeria Police Force attempted to halt the march.
The police confirmed in a statement that several persons were injured in addition to the deaths that were recorded. In his address to reporters, Rabiu Yusuf, Kano state Police Commissioner, said that eight IMN members and a police officer were killed in the clash.
The Nigerian police said that those that participated in the the procession were armed with bows and arrows and the clash started when an unidentified participant inflicted an injury on a police officer. The police who said they, had “no option” except to attack by using live ammunition on the protesters.
However, the spokesperson of the movement, Ibrahim Musa, denied any such scenario. He alleged that the police blocked the procession and used live ammunition as well as tear gas to disperse them, despite the peaceful nature of the march.
“Throughout the nearly four decades of the existence of the IMN, it has never stockpiled, carried or used weapons,” he was quoted as saying. The violence between the Nigerian government and the Shia movement has lingered for a while.
In December 2015, a two day clash between the group and the Nigeria army claimed that lives of over 350 individuals.
Linus Okechukwu, a media observer while speaking with our correspondent said: “It is very difficult to permit any group to be as expressive as they want. The gradual rise of Boko Haram has put the Nigerian government on the edge; making them to suspect any movement that has Islamic or generally a perceived dangerous ideological inclinations.”
– Orji Sunday, Correspondent (Africa)