Nine persons were feared killed yesterday when security agents and members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), otherwise known as Shi’ites clashed in Kano over the yearly procession of the group.
Eight Shi’ite members and one policeman were killed while others from both sides suffered serious injuries.
Confirming the clash, the state Police Commissioner, Rabi’u Yusuf, said: “At about 0800 hours, thousands of Shi’ite members obstructed motorists’ and other road users’ free access to Kano-Kaduna expressway between Kwanar Dawaki and Tamburawa village in Dawakin Kudu Local Council.
“They also attacked innocent citizens, damaged public and personal property thereby causing mayhem that could lead to general disturbance of public peace in the state.”
The sect members were matching to Zaria, in preparation for their yearly procession in remembrance of the murder of the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, known in Islamic history as Imam Hussein. They match to Zaria yearly to the residence of their leader, Malam Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who is in detention this year.
A source from the Shi’ite group asked the government to look into the remote and immediate causes of the clash, to bring the culprits to book. “We were badly treated by the police,” the source alleged.
Police Commissioner Yusuf said: “A combined team of special squads and conventional police was promptly deployed to ensure peace and safety of the people. In the process, Shi’ite members who were armed with bows and arrows, catapults with metal bolts, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons attacked the policemen, killing one of them and critically wounded another security agent.”
According to Yusuf, members of the sect snatched one AK 47 rifle from a policeman which they used in attacking the security agents, before it was later recovered.
“Eight Shi’ite members were mortally injured and rushed to the hospital, where they were confirmed dead by the doctor on call. The commissioner of police was personally on ground at the scene of the incident, “the source confirmed.
Recently, Shi’ite members were allegedly pasting stickers at some strategic places within the metropolis saying that they were sending a “Red Alert.” They alleged that the “Federal Government was planning to attack their members during the procession.”
The police command gave phone numbers to members of the public to call and report any suspicious person or group of persons to the nearest police station. The distress lines are as follows: 08032419754, 08123821575 and 08075391163.
At the time of filing this report, peace had returned to the scene of the incident after hours of stand-off.
Members of the sect also embarked on the yearly Arbaeen symbolic trek in Kaduna and other parts of northern states yesterday.
The group demanded the release of their detained leader, Shiekh Ibraheem El-ZakZaky, and his wife.
Areas covered by the annual Islamic procession include Kano, Kaduna, Funtua, Pambegua, Malufanshi and Birnin Gwari.
An IMN leader and coordinator of the Arbaeen Trek, Mallam Nasir Mansur who addressed a press conference in Kaduna, said that “the Arbaeen trek is not quite new even in this country and it is not the creation of IMN.”
Mansur condemned the banning of the group by the government, saying it deprived the Shi’ites of their religious obligation.