By Abdulsalam Muhammad
Last  Monday will  go  down  in history as one of the darkest moments  for Islamic Movement of Nigeria  (IMN), otherwise known as Shi’ite. The two hours of  bloody confrontation with heavily armed policemen at Tamburawa waterfornt, on the  outskirts  of Kano municipal, led to the death of some  Shi’ite members.

While the Shi’ite group claimed they lost at least a  hundred members, police official casualty figure was put at eight by the  state  Commissioner of  Police, Rabiu Yusuf.

It was a war  foretold going by the   rising intolerance of Kano to the activities of the group in a Sunni dominated environment. A month ago, October  12,  to be precise, the IMN  drew the ire of the  public during a protest, dubbed free Zaky-zaky’, their leader detained by the authorities after last year’s disturbance in Zaria,  when the group’s members came under attack by those police described as  ‘hoodlums’ and injured 17 in free-for-all at the city centre.

INJURED—Some of those injured in the Shi’ites/Police clash in Kano, yesterday.

In that encounter, the police image maker in Kano, Magaji Musa Majia, said the police  rescued 138 from the ‘hoodlums’, out of which 125 were women and children. But in a  twist of fate, the police later arraigned 77 of the ‘rescued victims’ before a court for public disturbance

It was therefore strategic on the part of the Shi’ite movement to sneak  out of the city last Monday in historic Arbain trek to Zaria before breakfast  perhaps to avoid trouble. By things went awry as they exited the city.

The account by the Commissioner of Police, Yusuf, has it that “thousands of Shi’ite  members” obstructed motorists  and other road users on Kano- Kaduna expressway. He disclosed: “They also  attacked  innocent citizens, damaged public and personal properties thereby causing mayhem that could lead to general disturbance of public peace in the state. “

But the last straw that broke the camel’s  back was the alleged  loss of an AK47 rifle  by a policeman that was  said to have been  used on  security agents by the group. Similarly, the combined  team of PMF, CTU, SARS and conventional police  deployed to restore  peace  allegedly came under attack.

Yusuf further accused the Shi’ite members of freely using bows and arrows, catapults with metalbolts and  cutlasses on the police and, in the process, killed a police sergeant and critically injured  four  others that included a DSP.

But  a survivor, Ali Dan’Ali, dismissed  the police boss’ claim as blackmail. “We came under attack by the police at Amana city, and several hundreds were injured in what appeared a coordinated attempt to break our procession, and disrupt the historic trek”

“It was a rain of bullets from all directions as the police swooped on  us. Some  of us were lucky to have escaped unhurt, hundreds of other were not too lucky on a day over an equal number were martyred  on the spot”, Dan’ali said.

The two hours of rage brought untold harship  on  motorists  and commuters caught in the disturbance.

Meanwhile,  normalcy his been  restored  in the ancient city and the lost police rifle recovered, but the leadership of IMN believes  that the police strategy in handling Shi’ite related matters may lead Nigeria  to another Sambisa.

In a chat with Sunday Vanguard at Kano headquarters of the group located behind Gorn Dutse police station, the local leader, Sanusi AbdulKadir Koki, described the police strategy as “too poor.”

The tough talking Koki said: “The idea of employing brute force to tackle our group could lead to chaos  in  the long run  unless  the  police review their strategy.  According to him, the  police poor strategy is “gradually pushing us to the brink, and yet well-meaning individuals  are watching while the police action or inaction pointed to chaos.”

While it is evident that the city is getting out of patience with the Shi’ite group over their  alleged penchant  for breaking the law and order, Kano and indeed Nigeria need to learn a lesson from  the Iraqi experience whose poor handling of sectarian matter robbed them of  the desired peace.

 

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