Nigerian state bans mainstream Shia movement

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) that has been declared an unlawful society by a northern state vowed Saturday to challenge the ban.

The Kaduna state government Friday said anyone convicted of being a member of the IMN could be imprisoned for seven years, fined or both. The size of the fine was not specified, Reuters reported.

The Kaduna state government claimed the group had “overtly continued with unlawful processions” and “obstruction of public highways” since the military’s attack on members of the Shia group in December.

“These acts, if allowed to go unchecked will constitute danger to the peace, tranquility, harmonious coexistence and good governance of Kaduna state,” it further claimed, declaring the group unlawful with immediate effect.

A spokesman for the IMN, Ibraheem Musa, said its members were not going to be intimidated into resorting to violence.

“Very soon, we shall challenge this ban through legal and peaceful means,” he said.

On December 12, 2015, Nigerian soldiers attacked Shia Muslims attending a ceremony at a religious center in the city of Zaria in Kaduna, accusing them of blocking the convoy of the army’s chief of staff and attempting to assassinate him.

The following day, Nigerian forces also raided the home of the IMN leader, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, and arrested the prominent cleric after killing those attempting to protect him.

A judicial inquiry concluded in August that the Nigerian army killed 348 members of the religious community during the two-day raids.

Back in April, UK-based rights group Amnesty International published evidence revealing how the Nigerian military burned people alive, razed buildings and secretly dumped victims’ bodies in mass graves in the December 2015 deadly assaults.

“The true horror of what happened over those two days in Zaria is only now coming to light. Bodies were left littered in the streets and piled outside the mortuary. Some of the injured were burned alive,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.

Zakzaky is said to have been charged with “criminal conspiracy and inciting public disturbances.”

Over the past months, Nigerians have held demonstrations across the country to demand Zakzaky’s release from jail.

By Tasnim News Agency