The Islamic Movement of Nigeria has alerted the nation over what it called a planned “military pogrom in Katsina State”.
The group said armed troops were seen surrounding the main Jumaat Mosque in the town where a peaceful Islamic procession was being planned.
In a statement by Ibrahim Musa, President Media Forum of the group, the IMN said: “Reports from Katsina today have indicated that the Nigerian army is amassing troops in an attempt at a clampdown on the Islamic Movement in the town.
“Early in the morning armed troops were seen surrounding the main Juma’at mosque, where a peaceful maulud procession of the daughter of the Prophet, Nana Fatima (AS) was scheduled to take off. Seeing this and due to the peaceful disposition of the Islamic Movement, the take-off venue of this yearly event was changed to another neighbourhood of the town, and the procession went round some major streets of the town and ended without any incident.
“However to our consternation, reinforcement was brought from neighbouring formations of the army, and roadblocks were mounted on almost all the major roads leading to Katsina city. We have been reliably informed that the army is set to replicate the wanton destruction of lives and properties it carried out in Zaria last December. The army it seems has vowed to attack the Markaz Islamic centre in the town any moment from now, possibly kill all its occupants and raze it to ground just as it did to Husainiyya Islamic centre in Zaria.
“The Islamic Movement is amazed at what happened to our fundamental constitutional right to peaceful assembly and practice of religion in a democratic setting. This maulud procession is a yearly event that has been going on in several cities across the Nation for decades without any incident, like so many of our educational programs. Why we should be the subject of brutal attack by the authorities is mind boggling.
“We are of the view that there is a ‘jihadi’ element in the Nigerian army that wants to hide under the cloak of our secular national army to achieve the clandestine aim of wiping out members of the Islamic Movement all over the federation. If that is the case, they should come out in the open and declare their intentions, since the Nigerian army we know is forbidden to do the bidding of any religious agenda.
“Also reports reaching us from Kebbi state have confirmed to us that security agencies in various local governments of the state have ordered members of the Islamic Movement to stop any educational program they are known to engage in. The report states that any attempt to disregard what was said to be an order from the Federal government, would be met with ruthless clamp down. In fact, about ten members of the Islamic Movement are presently facing prosecution simply for attending an educational session in a mosque in Birnin Kebbi. Wither freedom of religion in this country?
“The Islamic Movement therefore enjoins fellow citizens to call the federal government to order. Rather than pursue a religious agenda, specifically a Saudi-wahabbi sponsored agenda to kill whom they label Shiites, the federal government should devise means of relieving the masses that voted it into power the myriads of the day to day hardship they encounter in their lives.
“Even as we keep watch of events by the army in Katsina and other places, we wish to reiterate our demand of immediate release of our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Yaqoub Zakzaky and other brothers and sisters of the Islamic movement held incommunicado for close to the past four months. They did no wrong; hence they should be set free unconditionally”.