All appears to be coming to a head as regards the Islamic Movement of Nigeria [IMN], otherwise known as Shi’ites and their continued protest.
On Monday, the IMN members embarked on their most recent and ostensibly most violent protests yet in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
They have been protesting the continued detention of Ibrahim Zakzaky, their leader and his wife.
During Monday, July 22nd protest, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in charge of operations in the federal capital territory, Usman Umar and youth corp member reporter with Channels TV identified as Precious Owolabi was shot dead, identified casualties of the latest Shiite protest.
17 IMN members were reportedly also killed in the ensuing fracas.
The Shiites group according to encyclopedia.com currently accounts for about 10%-15% of all Muslims in the world.
The Shiite Islam group reportedly originated as a political movement supporting Ali who is a cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam as the rightful leader of the Islamic state. The legitimacy of this claim, as initially envisioned by Ali’s supporters, was based on Muhammad’s alleged designation of Ali as his successor, Ali’s righteousness, and tribal customs, given his close relationship to the Prophet.
Ali’s right passed with his death in 661 to his son Hasan, who however chose not to claim it, and after Hasan’s death, again to Husein, Ali’s younger son. The transformation into a religious formulation is believed to have been initiated with the martyrdom of Husein in 680 at Karbala (today in Iraq), a traumatic event still observed with fervor in today’s Shiite world on the 10th of the month of Muharram of the Muslim lunar year.
Shia Islam In Nigeria
Reports have it that although the majority of the Muslim population in Nigeria are the Sunni, there is however a significant Shia minority, particularly in the northern states of Kano and Sokoto. However, there are no actual statistics that reflect a distinct Shia population in Nigeria.
But regardless of this, the fact that the Shiite group appears to have a considerable size in the country is not in doubt with anyone who has watched the unfolding sequence of their protests across the country in recent weeks.
The group’s last protest at the National Assembly was reportedly tantamount to a siege. This is because security officials were allegedly overwhelmed by the Shiite members at the first gate of the Assembly which afforded them entrance into the second gate also.
The protesters during the protest carried posters bearing El-Zakzaky’s picture chanting “Allahu Akbar” and also wrote “Free Zakzaky,” “Buhari is a criminal” at various security checkpoints at the National Assembly. After forcing their way into the second gate, the policemen on duty fired shots into the air but the protesters retaliated by shooting catapults at the policemen. The protesters later also proceeded to one of the federal secretariat buildings where they destroyed some cars, doors, windows, and furniture.
The police would later warn that the group would not have it as easy when next they come around and this is evidently what we saw yesterday.
The situation is already gaining the attention of the International community. One of such is Amnesty International.