PRESS RELEASE – NIGERIA: Fatalities as police open fire on Abuja religious procession

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From: Islamic Human Rights Commission

27 October 2018

PRESS RELEASE – NIGERIA: Fatalities as police open fire on Abuja religious procession

At least two fatalities are confirmed in the Nigerian capital Abuja after soldiers opened fire on a large procession marking the 40th day commemoration of Ashura this afternoon.

Pictures obtained by IHRC show bloodied victims being carried away by participants after security forces shot at the procession using live rounds as it entered the capital.

The peaceful procession is one of many that take place every year in towns and cities in Nigeria to mark 40 days after the anniversary of the killing of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Husayn over 1300 years ago.

The religious event is a peaceful family occasion with women and children marching alongside men.

One of those killed today has been identified as Abdul’aziz Maigana. The other as yet unidentified victim was carried away by soldiers.

Today’s procession in Abuja appears to have been attacked without warning and without provocation in a continuation of the Nigerian authorities’ crackdown on supporters of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, many of whom commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn.
Ibrahim Musa, the president of the Media Forum of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, condemned today’s attack as “unwarranted”. He said the march was actually in the process of being wound down for the day when it came under attack.

Attacks on processions in recent years have resulted in scores of fatalities and injuries to innocent people exercising their freedom of worship. Only last month security forces attacked an Ashura procession in Zaria killing one man.

In recent months the authorities have also attacked and killed protestors demonstrating against the continued detention of the leader of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky.

The sheikh has been in detention since he was shot along with his wife, Zeenah, and arrested during an orgy of violence unleashed over three days in December 2015 on supporters of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in what was widely seen as a bid by the authorities to curb the movement’s growing popularity.

Last May Sheikh el-Zakzaky and his wife were arraigned by the state High Court in Kaduna charged with abetting the commission of culpable homicide when they blocked roads in the city of Zaria in December 2015. In reality the charges seem to be designed to deflect government responsibility for a planned and systematic attack by soldiers on the Islamic Movement that left at least 1000 civilians dead in December 2015, an attack which is now the subject of a preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court.

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Notes to editors:
Photos and video of the attack are available on request.

In March 2016 IHRC petitioned the International Criminal Court to open a preliminary inquiry into the December 2015 massacre of IMN members.

Our report which we submitted to the ICC can be found at https://www.ihrc.org.uk/publications/reports/11646-investigating-the-attack-against-the-islamic-movement-of-nigeria-on-12-13-december-2015-in-zaria/
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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

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