Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, also called Shi’ites, have responded to statements credited to Nigerian police tagging them as terrorists.
The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris, had on Wednesday directed a total clamp-down on the IMN group over its clash with security operatives.
About 400 members of the group were arrested by the police for alleged destruction of public property over which the police said those being held would be prosecuted on terrorism charges.
Members of the group were accused of disturbance of public peace and law and order in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and setting ablaze of police vehicle. Members of the group demanding the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, have since Monday been engaged in confrontations with security agents in parts of Abuja, resulting in several deaths.
The police said 31 bottles of petrol bombs and other dangerous weapons were found in possession of some of those arrested, stating that all of them will be arraigned in court after investigation under the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2003.
But in a statement on Thursday by its media forum president, Ibrahim Musa, the Shia members vowed to resist what they described as attempt to link the Islamic movement to terrorism, insisting that members of the group have the right to practice their religion or belief, assemble, express themselves and protest as enshrined in Nigeria’s Constitution on Freedom of Religion.
According to the statement, “We hereby categorically dismiss any attempt to link the Islamic Movement in Nigeria to acts of terrorism.
“It is pertinent to note that the philosophy and ideology of Shia abhors bloodshed. This justifies why there is no single Shia group that is in any way linked to terrorism across the world and we are not an exception. Terrorism is not in our character and will never be.”
The statement further clarified, “You may recall a statement issued by the movement on the 29th of October 2018 and signed by the President of the Media Forum of the Movement Mr. Ibrahim Musa, we made it categorically clear that there is a plot use the Arbaeen to intimidate and implicate the movement.
“It has come to our notice that Nigerian security apparatus has commissioned its men and paid agents to massively infiltrate the Arbaeen procession scheduled to hold in Abuja in the coming days to induce violence with the view to smearing the movement in the eyes of the world once and for all.
“The Islamic Movement in Nigeria hereby dissociates itself from the deliberate mischief and narration of impounding petrol bombs and burning police vehicle.
“This is the plot of the security agents and those instructing them from behind the scene in order to blackmail the movement.
“We wish to remind the Nigeria Police that we as Nigerians have the constitutional right to practice our religion or belief, assemble, express ourselves and protest as enshrined in Article 38 of The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Freedom of Religion and cannot therefore be denied with the scare of mischievously placing the movement on RED ALERT.”
IMN observed, “Sequel to the recent brutal clampdown on members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria by a joint security force made up of Police and Army in Abuja from 27th of October 2018 to 30th of October 2018, where they killed at least forty-eight of our members, the Nigeria Police Force issued a statement.
“The statement claimed that the Police have arrested about 400 members of the movement and they are going to be charged to court for terrorism.”
The Shi’ites also called on the general public not to be deceived by the “false allegations and executive lies” being spread with the intention of blackmailing the peaceful movement and depicting it as violent “even without any trace of violence in its almost 40 years of existence.”