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SERIAL VIOLATION OF OUR RIGHTS CONTINUE WITH STATE-SPONSORED HATE, VIOLENCE AND REPRESSION

Good day Ladies and Gentlemen of the press.

Background:

Since the gruesome premeditated attack on the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) by the Army in December last year, we have never had it so bad, where our right to life as citizens of Nigeria is trampled upon like during this year’s Ashura season. We had a premonition of what was to come, when a devilish scheme to brutalize us was exposed earlier. The purported ban of our activities by governor El-Rufai was meant to be a trigger for the planned attacks. It indeed instigated the murder and destruction of properties of our members. Some blood thirsty Izala/Salafi preachers saw the opportunity to pour their venomous hate messages against the Movement and now even back it up with state-sanctioned attacks.

Ashura attacks:

Soon after, our members attending the mourning sessions held at the Islamic Centre in Kaduna were the first to suffer molestation in the hands of security forces as they were intercepted on their way, arrested and charged to court. But it was much worse at the time the attacks became full blown.

By the tenth of Muharram 1438, members trooped out en masse to mourn the martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS) as it is the practice within the Islamic world. First signs of the scope of the attack on us came from Funtua, Katsina state, when heavily armed policemen, in broad daylight, opened fire on the peaceful march. That resulted in the premeditated killing of ten members on the spot. Several others sustained varying degrees of injuries, including women and children. To aggravate the situation, the police arrested 36, including underage people. Soon thereafter, the pattern of attack was almost simultaneously replicated in Kaduna, Sokoto, Kano and Jos.

In Kaduna, the Ashura procession was concluded peacefully. However, a contingent of security agents disguised as hoodlums ambushed members on their way home. This was followed by an organized attack on the Islamic Centre in the Tudun wada neighborhood, leading to the murder of 3 people, in the most gruesome manner. The video clip of that brutal murder went viral on the social media. Looting and wanton destruction of properties belonging to our members ensued and finally the centre was completely razed by sponsored thugs, under the watchful eyes of the security forces.

Jos, the Plateau state capital became a theatre of war against the Movement as well. Armed soldiers arbitrarily arrested women and children clad in black attire, a symbol of the Ashura mourning on their way for Ashura mourning procession. This was followed by the unleashing of terror by combined team of soldiers, policemen and street urchins on our members, burning the Jos Islamic Centre and looting valuable properties. Although no life was lost in the melee, the police and the soldiers at the scene displayed brazen disregard for life and property. A total of 46 members, including nursing mothers, pregnant woman and many underage children were arrested. Bail was denied by the police until recently after spending close to forty days behind bars. The precedence that the Movement has never been involved in the myriads of crises in the state notwithstanding, Governor Lalong, who was nowhere near banning the various armed tribal groups that have denied Plateau its peace for over a decade, suddenly surfaced in the media and imitated his Kaduna state counterpart, with an arbitrary and unjustified ban order on the Movement.

In Kano, the Ashura procession had ended peacefully before security agents masquerading as youth vanguard attacked people as they went their various ways. Three people were instantly murdered and many others sustained injuries. Over fifty members of the Islamic Movement, mostly women and children, were paradoxically arrested, arraigned before magistrate courts and remanded in prison custody.

In all the attacks of Ashura, certain pattern emerged that showed the centrality of planning and execution. The plot was schemed by the Nigerian security forces. In all towns where killings, destruction and arson took place, it followed the same pattern. Security forces had disguised as miscreants to unleash havoc. Both security personnel and thugs were ferried in official police vans. After the mayhem they unleashed, they proceeded to pounce on mostly women and children to arrest and detain. None of the miscreants was arrested and there has not been a single policeman or soldier identified in the attack that was arrested or punished for any of these atrocities. All these leave none in doubt that cleansing of Shiah and all members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria is now an official federal government policy.

Attacks on Arbaeen Trek:

Not satisfied with the blood they spilled during Ashura, security agents again plotted against the Arbaeen symbolic trek. The plot was again leaked and exposed, but being an official government program, nobody could call the government to order. On Monday 14 November 2016, a combined forces of military and police attacked a peaceful trek from Kano on their way to Zaria. At least a hundred people were lost to police bullets, and their corpses carted away to unknown locations. It is feared that they may have also been buried in mass graves in a similar manner they did in Zaria last December.

Desperate to cover their atrocities, the police are engaged in concocting stories. IGP comes out to brazenly lie about the glaring attack. This Kano massacre was done in broad daylight. There were many independent witnesses including non-Muslims who witnessed what had happened. Pictures and video clips of the trek before and after the police brutal attacks are also additional evidence that we weren't armed at all (we have never been). We tried to avoid their attempts at disruption when we started the trek from outside the metropolis. We were trekking away from Kano towards Zaria and we didn’t obstruct traffic. It was the heavily armed police that scattered the hitherto orderly, peaceful and solemn procession. There was simply no justification for the police attack that unjustifiably shot indiscriminately, killing men, women and children, including an eight month old infant.

Not even in any of the pictures of our shot colleagues felled by police bullets did we see any with weapon by his/her side. There is no doubt that had we been armed, they would have shown pictures and video clips of us with the weapons. All we have seen are crude attempts to plant weapons on our members. This too we had much earlier alerted the public on the nefarious plot. The public is well aware that we never use weapons. Gone are the days when anyone, no matter his status or position, can just use the instruments of the State to just give a dog a bad name in order to hang it.

Federal government is responsible for all the acts of terror against the Movement

All these unfortunate incidents are not independent of one another; they are part of a coordinated plan to exterminate the Islamic Movement, which was started on the 12th of December 2015. The escalation of terror against the Movement in the recent past months is not unconnected with the broader goals of the Federal government to exterminate the Movement. The Arbaeen trek would have shown the futility of their actions in the past had they allowed the gathering and that would have sent some signals to their paymasters. Knowing that our Arbaeen gathering in Zaria is one of the largest in this part of West Africa, they dream of scuttling it.

We have noted with satisfaction that an increasing number of independent groups and individuals are boldly calling the government to do justice in our case. We appreciate their concerns and quest for truth and justice as they remind the Federal government that we too are humans and citizens deserving protection. We also acknowledge with contentment recent assurances in the ICC Report on Preliminary Examination Activities for 2016, in which it indicated that it is examining possibility that Zaria massacre and its aftermath involved crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute.

Conclusion:

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria hereby calls on the general public to be mindful of the shameless disregard to civilian lives and properties exhibited by Buhari administration, and to unequivocally condemn it in its entirety. It is time to call Buhari and his cohorts to order. They should be reminded that they were not voted into office to kill those they harbour religious enmity towards. The life and properties of all citizens are sacrosanct as sanctioned by all sane laws.

Finally, we will like to reiterate our demand for the unconditional release of our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, his wife and all those being detained illegally since the Army massacre in Zaria last year. We also call for the release of all those unjustifiably detained since the pogrom started. We restate our call for the release of all corpses of our martyrs, buried in mass graves in Kaduna and Kano, so as to give them a befitting burial.

SIGNED BY:

SHEIKH ABDULHAMID BELLO 

 Late Barrister Ken Atsuwete has been described as the “defender of the defenseless, voice of the voiceless and man of God who won souls for His kingdom.” 

Minister of Transportation and former Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi stated this at the funeral service for the late legal practitioner, human rights activist and pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, who was killed in Port Harcourt on August 29, 2016. 

Amaechi, who was represented by the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside, stressed that rather than mourn the exit of Atsuwete, he should be honoured because he fought against injustice and contributed immensely towards a better society. 

“Ken served the Lord faithfully, he will live in glory. We should not be mourning, we should be grateful that he impacted on this world within his short time in life. He was a man who believed in a cause and fought doggedly till death. 

“Wherever there was injustice, Ken would fight against it. He offered his life so that the rest of us will live. He exhibited the peak of courage. Be assured that the sacrifice Ken has made will bring to an end the unnecessary killings in Rivers State. 

“He was not a member of the any political party, he was not a member of APC, yet he offered to defend Ojukaye (Flag Amachree, a member of APC). He gave his all to defend Ojukaye. Injustice, regardless of party affiliation, was something he abhorred. He will not pay the price for nothing,” the Minister stated. 

While saying that God will not abandon the family nor suffer any form of frustration, the minister stressed that his death will bear fruit of “justice, peace, harmony and a thriving society.”  

The officiating minister at the funeral service, Pastor Grant Alobari of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, quoting from Ecclesiastes 7:1&2 spoke of two important days in the life of man, birth and death.  

He said that the deceased lived for the poor and those oppressed, adding that he was “sympathetic, humble and ready to help at all times.” 

The cleric said that God “expects us to do what will glorify him,” an injunction he says the deceased carried out till the point of death. 

Several dignitaries were present at the occasion including the immediate past Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, members of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), civil society groups, among others.

 

•    Urges Robert Onome, others to protect Okpe interests
 
The Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Monday Igbuya on Sunday extolled the virtues of the Orodje of Okpe Kingdom, Orhue 1, saying in ten years, the Okpe monarch served the kingdom with unerring grace, dignity and decency.
In a congratulatory message to His Royal Majesty, Igbuya said Orodje’s personality and contributions had changed the world’s perception of Okpe kingdom and the people.
“His Royal Majesty’s ten years reign is not only eventful but beneficial to the kingdom and humanity. The peace, progress and prosperity can be attributed to his wise and benevolent leadership” the speaker said.
He commended His Royal Majesty for demonstrating exemplary leadership, living above board and for serving as a source of strength and inspiration for many within and outside the kingdom.
The Rt. Hon Speaker also commended the Okpe monarch for playing significant roles in the promotion of harmony, socio-cultural cooperation, communal living and peaceful co-existence among diverse peoples.
“On behalf of myself, family and the good people of Sapele Local Government Area, I congratulate His Royal Majesty on the occasion of the 10th coronation anniversary. I also wish His Royal Majesty, members of the traditional council and all the good people of Okpe Kingdom continued good health, long life and God’s protection”.
Ending the message, the speaker “Please accept the assurances of my highest esteem and warmest congratulations to you and the people of Okpe Kingdom on this grand occasion”
In the same vein, the Rt. Hon Speaker on Sunday congratulated Chief Robert Onome on his election as the President General, Okpe Union.
“Please accept my sincere congratulations on your emergence as the President General of Okpe Union. Your election is a testimony of the recognition of your immense abilities and contributions to the union and the kingdom”
Using the anniversary to embrace other causes close to his heart, Igbuya encouraged Chief Onome and other elected officials to project the Okpe people to the nation and the world at large.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that this position places on your shoulder tremendous responsibilities. It is however my hope that you will use your wealth of experience and leadership qualities to protect the interests of the Okpe nation”
“I wish you God’s help in yet another phase of your continuing service to Okpe kingdom” he added.
 
There Is No Impeachment Threat Against Delta Speaker-Chief Press Sec.
 
There is no impeachment moves against the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Monday Igbuya, says Chief Press Secretary.
 
A statement from the office of the speaker not only distanced the members of the assembly from the impeachment rumour but described the members as highly responsible and patriotic individuals who are more concerned with the peaceful co-existence and development of the state than heating up the polity, as it is being insinuated by a section of the media.
 
The statement signed by Henry Ebireri also came hard on some journalists in the state, urging them not to turn the state into a battle field but to engage themselves in constructive and productive journalism.
 
 He urged them to stop cheapening the profession by publishing unworthy news items and using unprintable words in their publications.
 
“The Rt. Hon Speaker did not exchange blow with any staff”
 
The Chief Press Secretary accused some media practitioners of working with some detractors to cause disaffection and disunity within the state.
 
“The Delta State House of Assembly is not a home for blackmailers, opportunists and hooligans”
 
He described the allegation of inexperience, corruption, high handedness and inability to lead the house as “unimaginable, unthinkable and cheap propaganda by enemies of the state.
 
Ebireri said some media practitioners and their sponsors were executing a plan to discredit the speaker.
 
He fired shot at those saying Igbuya is bringing the house into disrepute and ridicule, describing the view as an irresponsible vendetta.
 
The chief press secretary also accused some journalists of resorting to cheap blackmail and blatant lies in the agitation of the assembly workers.
 
He praised Igbuya for his dynamic leadership, outstanding contribution and commitment to the development of the state.
 
He commended him for stamping his unique leadership style in the management of the assembly and the steps that are essential to the future of the house.
 
 “His life is a flowing tribute of excellence. His leadership style has earned him the gratitude and admiration of many while his conviction and willingness to speak out with a clear voice make him the best House of Assembly Speaker in the history of Delta State” he said.
 
 “The Rt. Hon Speaker has helped to reshape legislative duties in the state. His outstanding leadership is appreciated by Deltans from all walks of life”
 
He assured the good people of Delta State that Igbuya would not be distracted in his assigned role of developing the state and working for the prosperity agenda of the Okowa administration.
 
“Chief Monday Igbuya has never acted against the interests of the members and the state. He will continue to play his role in the development of the non-oil sector, creation of wealth, reduction of youth unemployment, rapid infrastructural development and inclusive economic growth” Ebireri said.
 
He advised Mister Speaker to disregard the antics of blackmailers.
 
“Igbuya, a legislator so committed to the ideal of a better society and to the welfare of the down trodden, stands very tall in Nigeria as a man of great moral rectitude” he added.
 
EBIRERI HENRY OVIE
CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY

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