Members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) protesting at the National Human Rights Commission in Abuja

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria has said threats to discourage them from performing their religious obligation on Thursday would not work.

The organisation accused government of sponsoring attacks aimed at intimidating members of the organisation, but stated that “the threat to spill our blood on Ashura by the powers that be will not deter us from our religious obligation”.

They also urged Nigerians to discountenance the reports that the Shi’a annual religious mourning procession, popularly known as Ashura will be violent in Abuja and other cities across the nation.

A statement by Ibrahim Musa, President, Media Forum of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria on Wednesday, described the reports of planned violent actions by the group as “mischievous” and “aimed at causing unnecessary hysteria among citizens”.

The statement read: “The Islamic Movement in Nigeria vehemently discountenance some alarmist message that have gone viral on the social media insinuating that the Shi’a annual religious mourning procession, popularly known as Ashura will be violent in Abuja and other cities across the nation, with some saying people should stay indoors to avoid eminent clash with the mourners.

“This message to say the least is mischievous and is aimed at causing unnecessary hysteria among citizens. How can one rationalise this blandishment based on the notion that the Shi'as would hold a protest march in Abuja and other cities? We have been holding these annual Ashura marches for decades here in Nigeria peacefully, and this year’s own won’t be an exception.

For those who are hearing about Ashura procession for the first time, it is held annually on the 10th of the first Islamic calendar month, Muharram, to commemorate the martyrdom of the third rightly guided Imam, Hussein (as), and scores of his companions who were mostly members of the Prophet’s family at the hands of the despotic ruler of the time, Yazid (LA). Ashura mourning session has been happening in Nigeria since time immemorial in various forms. Most notable of which is the one marked by members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, when mourners of Imam Hussein (as), the grandson of the Prophet (S), mostly clad in black, hold flags and banners to solemnly march in a funeral procession.

“Previous processions in the recent past have been characterised by state-sponsored terror attacks on mourners by the government, especially in Kaduna, Funtua and Jos leading to wanton loss of lives and properties. Already, feelers from Kaduna indicate that there were plans in place for the government to use combined forces of soldiers, police and thugs to violently seek to stop the religious obligation by mourners.”

Highlighting the actions of intimidation on its members, the statement read: “Probably as a prelude to what might happen tomorrow, early in the morning of today some armed security agents invaded the house of one of the leading members of the Islamic Movement in Jos, Plateau state. Though they made no arrests, but they intimidated the people in the neighborhood for no just reason.

“Similarly some soldiers of the Army barracks at Azare are reported to have blocked the path of Ashura mourners trekking to attend tomorrow’s gathering, even though they have no constitutional mandate to do that, and this is not the first time they are witnessing the trekkers passing by peacefully.

“Even though the threat to spill our blood on Ashura by the powers that be will not deter us from our religious obligation, we will however like to assure the general public and well-meaning Nigerians that our mission is to enlighten citizens on the injustice meted to the Grandson of the Prophet, Imam Husain (AS) in the year 61AH and also to remind the public of the oppression suffered by Sheikh Zakzaky since December, 2015, hence demand for his unconditional release along with hundreds of others still languishing in jail by this administration.”

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