Photos: Shi’ite members hold procession in Kaduna despite state government’s ban on their activities
Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria popularly known as Shi’ite, embarked on their Ashura procession in Kaduna state this morning despite the state government’s ban on their activities.
Yesterday, Nigerian troops have surrounded a gathering of Shi’a Muslims in Kaduna, with worshippers trapped inside, days after the state government proscribed the group.
Worshippers gathered to commemorate historical events associated with the Islamic month of Muharram that are particularly significant in the Shia calendar, UK-based Islamic Human Rights Commission, said in a statement Tuesday.
“Shortly before the Kaduna Markaz mosque on Zango Road was encircled by armoured military vehicles carrying heavily armed soldiers and also an ambulance were among a convoy of 18 military vehicles seen nearby,” the group said.
It called on the Nigerian government to withdraw the soldiers and allow the worshippers to continue to exercise their constitutional right to freedom of assembly and worship.
A witness said that the standoff was at the residence of a senior Shi’a leader, Muhtar Sahabi, and not a Mosque. He said dozens of armed soldiers and mobile police officers surrounded the compound and were waiting for those gathered inside to leave. He said some women and children who started coming out were sent back by the soldiers.
“It appears they want to make arrests following the recent ban,” the source said.
The confrontation follows a spate of arrests over recent days of members of the Shi’a sect, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, after a state-wide ban on Friday, proscribing membership of the movement.
“As was feared, the new law appears to be being used as an attempt to prevent the movement’s supporters from attending ceremonies commemorating the month of Muharram,” IHRC said.
This comes after 5 people have been reported dead in a clash between Shi’ites group and security agents in Funtua town, Katsina state. According to reports, the clash started when the Islamic group members this morning embarked on Ashura procession marked by Shi’ite worldwide.
The Katsina state police command had previously warned against unlawful processions in the state and attempted to stop them from the one they organized today when the clash started.