The Kaduna state government has today gone ahead to trample on the rights of people who were taking part in their religious duty in Kaduna state in scandalous violation of all known sane laws. This is pursuant to the purported ban placed on the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), which itself is in contradiction to the sections of the Nigerian Constitution that guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change one’s religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate one’s religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
In effecting this illegitimate ban, unwarranted arrests by policemen were done. They crudely used clubs and sticks as well as tear gas, injuring some before taking them into custody. Those affected were mostly women and minors, including eight members of the same family as they made their way to attend the Ashura mourning event, which to us is a religious duty. They are all at the moment in illegal custody.
In Zaria, armed policemen had been gleefully wielding their arms all over in nooks and crannies of the town, including at the venue of the Ashura congregation. That they move about with ambulances in addition to armored vehicles would suggest they are ready to attack anytime soon. In Kudan, the police has gone ahead to molest suspected members of the Islamic Movement. The story is virtually the same all across Kaduna state where a significant threat to our lives and properties exists.
The recent threat to arrest Ibrahim Musa, the head of our media and publicity aggravates the trampling of our rights to freedom of speech and association individually and collectively.
We are also aware that the government has contracted some hoodlums to launch attacks to give it a semblance of general disenchantment with the IMN. Already some hate-mongers seem to announce in their hate preaching across the state their intents to attack our activities and our persons.
We are also aware of the plan to attack and take over the IMN centers in Kaduna state by the Police with the intention of disrupting the ongoing Annual Ashura events across the state just as it is being held worldwide. We will like to make it clear, for the avoidance of doubts, that Ashura mourning events and symbolic treks are our religious duties and cannot be banned without trampling on our rights to worship, associate and propagate our beliefs freely.
We wish to make it categorically clear that we condemn these acts of state-sponsored terror tactics against the IMN in the strongest of terms. We re-echo our total opposition to Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s impunity, misuse of office and disregard to our constitutionally guaranteed rights. We will continue to lawfully and peacefully challenge and seek redress in the most appropriate ways in the face of all these extreme provocations.
Finally, we call for the immediate and unconditional release of our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and all others still being detained.