Ben Agande – Kaduna.

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has vowed to go ahead with its annual Arba’een March next week to commemorate the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the founder of Islam, Prophet Muhammed.

IMN, Nigeria, Afenifere, Ohanaeze, Arewa, Nigeria
Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria [IMN] during a protest for the release of their Leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky in Kaduna on Friday. Photo Olu Ajayi.
Similar March on the Abuja-Kubwa road last year led to a violent clash between the members of the movement and the Nigerian Army, with several IMN members killed.

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The Army had alleged that members of the IMN tried to steal weapons that were being moved by the army.

But in a statement made available to Vanguard and signed by the President of Media Forum of IMN, Ibrahim Musa, the group said the though it was aware that security agencies are planning to violently disrupt this year’s March, it remained undeterred as it was determined to carry out its religious obligation.

While assuring members of the public that the March will be peaceful and not constitute an obstruction to other road users, the IMN said it remained unfazed by the threat from security agencies.

“Arba’een, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world comes 40 days after the Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Husain (AS) the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). Each year millions of Muslims flock to the Iraqi city of Karbala where the holy tomb of Imam Hussein (AS) is located to perform mourning rites. This year’s event is scheduled to take place on Saturday 19th October 2019 (20/02/1441) globally, hence all preparations are on top gear by the Islamic movement in joining this worldwide event across the country.

“However, we are not unaware of the antagonism shown to us by some people because of this Arbaeen commemoration on foot. We will like to echo what our incarcerated leader, Sheikh Zakzaky said in 2014 in answer to our critics, “Those who oppose the trek should have come and asked us why we do what we do, and not to pass judgment on us over what they do not know. If you don’t like what we are doing, then keep your mouth shut, it is our legs we use to trek with, not yours. If you don’t like the black attire we wear, we put it on our bodies, not yours. We will never force you to trek or wear black clothes until we do that keep your mouth shut”.

“Last year’s Arbaeen trek was met with gunfire from the elite Guards Brigade in Abuja, where 57 people were killed. Up till today, the federal government has stubbornly refused to brief the public on the actual reason behind such a barbaric massacre on its citizens and has not initiated any investigation.

“Even though the military made spurious claims to justify the killings it perpetrated on 28-29/10/2018, the video from the march clearly contradicted those claims.

“Just of recent, Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police stated in the media concerning the Arbaeen by Shiites (IMN) that they will be treated as terrorists. This is a clear indication that this year’s Arbaeen trek will be attacked by the security like that of last year or that of the Ashura which took place almost 40 days ago, during which several people were killed in each case.

“This is a clear violation of our fundamental human rights as enshrined in the constitution. How can an unarmed group of people be termed as terrorists? It has never happened anywhere except here in Nigeria.

“However we would like to assure the general public that this year’s Arba’een, as usual, will be peaceful and devoid of any attempt to disrupt the right of safe passage to other road users. There is no cause for alarm over the Arba’een trek. Love for Imam Husain (AS) is not just for the Muslims alone but for all those who love justice and fight against oppression in all ages, ours inclusive.

“Although some state governments and the federal government have been plotting evil against our peaceful Arba’een trek and commemoration of Imam Husain (AS), we pray that Allah thwarts and frustrate their evil plans as he has done in the past,” he said.

The IMN further reiterated its call for the release of their detained leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife from detention.

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