•Urges govt to dialogue with IMN leaders
Sheikh Haliru Maraya, a leading scholar in the Tijanniyah Islamic Movement has said that military action against the Shiites during the recent IMN religious procession in Abuja amounts to extra-judicial killing.
The former Special Adviser on Islamic Matters to Governors Patrick Yakowa and Mukhtar Ramalan Yero who spoke with Facing the Kaaba on the development recently advised government to dialogue with leaders of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN with a view to establishing modalities for future processions, routes, take-off and terminal points in order to avert unnecessary loss of lives and property.
He added that the alibi that IMN members impeded their right of way was not enough to shoot at them. “The situation did not give the security agencies to shoot at the. That action is considered as extra judicial killings. Only the court can sentence any erring citizen to death.
Sheikh Maraya said: “The primary responsibility of any government is the protection of lives and property. It is very unfortunate that at this age of digitalization, we are killing and maiming young Nigerians when other countries of the world are training them to be able to lead properly in the future. It is known that there have been several processions by different groups and they were not attacked. Just a few days ago, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC had a procession in Lagos, they were not attacked.
“We all know the Bring Back Our Girls Group, with their protests in FCT, and no attack was carried out on them. So also, some weeks ago, some police officers staged a demonstration in Maiduguri; none of the officers was shot at. When the APC was the opposition party some few years ago, the leaders of the party including the present President staged a demonstration in FCT, nobody was shot at that time. It surprises me that it is only when the Shiites go onto the street for demonstration or their procession that they are being shot at
“Therefore, my advice is that the security operatives should try to embrace new methodology of de-escalation. We don’t want a situation that will lead some of these people to be carrying arms in their rightful procession. Remember how Boko Haram started. Again, the leadership of the IMN should be brought to table by the federal government to discuss with them the modalities for their procession because they consider this procession as part and parcel of expressing their faith and as you know section 48 of our constitution guarantees the right to religion.
“Therefore, the government should speak with the leaders of IMN with a view to fine tuning ways of carrying out their activities. The constitution does not go against procession and as other organizations also carry out their procession without any attack. So whenever their Arbain time approaches, the federal government through its security agencies should meet with the IMN leaders on the route and time and terminal point of their procession and provide security for them throughout their procession.
When reminded that the military through the Brigade Commander argued that IMN as a group was not law abiding, and that their various actions had impeded the rights and privileges of law abiding citizens, Sheikh Maraya said: “The situation did not give the security agencies to shoot at them. That action is considered as extra judicial killings. Only the court can sentence any erring citizen to death after carefully listened to arguments. Shooting at them on the excuse that they obstructed movement of the military carrying weapons or that they did not give them right of way, or wanted to snatch ammunition is not enough to shoot at them.