By Abdulmumin Giwa
In a joint operation by the Nigerian Army and the Police in Kaduna several people were injured when they attacked a peaceful annual pro-Palestinian protest march organized by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) including children and women.
The Army and the Police who have earlier raised tension in Kaduna metropolis since the early hours of Friday going round major highways with two Armored Personnel Carriers and 20 Hilux vehicles load of Army and Police personnel attacked the peaceful protest that took place later in the afternoon firing teargas and shooting with live rounds.
Several people including women and children were also arrested including a journalist reporting for the German International Radio Service.
Plain clothed security personnel were seen leading thugs carrying sticks and machetes attacking those suspected to be members of the IMN thereby inflicting injuries on many people and creating mayhem.
Eye witnesses have condemned the display of impunity by the government at Kasuwan Barchi community who are also not in good terms with the state governor who is planning to demolish their market but restrained by the court.
The Army spokesman from 1 Mechanized Division, Col. Umoh, told journalists that the pro-Palestinian protests in cities like Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and other places were all peaceful but in Kaduna he claimed there was a clash between the Shiites and members of the Kasuwan Barchi community making an effort to exonerate their dirty action.
In a joint press conference by the IMN and some civil rights organizations represented by Prince Deji Adeyanju the convener of Concerned Nigerians and Hon. Ebenizer Oyetakin condemned the level of impunity displayed by the government.
Representing the IMN Sheikh Yakubu Yahaya explained that the pro-Palestinian protest is an annual event that takes place every last Friday of the month of Ramadan to show support for the oppressed people of Palestine and to condemn the atrocities of the illegal state of Israel on the Palestinians. He added that it is also an issue of humanity because the victims of Israeli atrocities in Palestine are both Muslims and Christians.
The Sheikh further explained that the pro-Palestinian protest is commemorated everywhere across the globe and by people of all inclinations including the Jews who condemn the dirty works of the Zionists against humanity.
He dismissed the claim by the Federal Government that nobody wants the IMN leader as a neighbor asking how this claim could be possible when the leader has about 20 million followers.
Prince Deji of the Concerned Nigerians group called on the Nigerian government to stop the impunity against the Shiites. He expressed concerned over how the Shiites have been turned into an endangered species in the country. He reminded the government that it is their duty to protect everyone as they have sworn to in their oath of office and that every Nigerian has the right to practice any religion of his choice as contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The human rights activist also called on the Nigerian government to release the leader of the IMN Sheikh Ibraheem Zaakzaky and his wife to them and they will provide him with accommodation.
In his response, Hon. Ebenezer Oyetakin who was also in Kaduna to observe the pro-Palestinian procession said that the IMN is not a violent group and called on the government to stop the stigmatization.
In his response to a statement by the Minister of Information Lai Muhammed that no Nigerian wants Sheikh Zakzaky as a neighbor, the renowned activist said he doesn’t only want Sheikh Zakzaky as his neighbor but wants to live with him in his own house.
So far the efforts by the joint military and police operation to instigate crises between the IMN members and the communities in Kaduna has failed as the Shiites have refused to be intimidated and chosen the path of peace and tranquility with all.