Well armed police men in close to a hundred police trucks on Monday, opened fire on the peaceful Arbaeen trek to Zaria in the outskirts of Kano metropolis, killing close to a hundred members of the Islamic movement (IMN) including women and children.
Exact number of those killed or maimed by police bullets is still being ascertained since most of the corpses were again ferried away by the police (possibly for mass burial).
The trek had started like in previous years solemnly, orderly and peacefully without hitches. Shortly after, a contingent of armed policemen appeared and started firing teargas on the trekkers without provocations.
Because of the massive turnout, the trek continued and when IMN members reached a neighborhood called Kwanar Dawaki, about five Kilometers from Kano, police opened fire on the trekkers with live ammunition. The firing by the police was randomly carried out that they also hit their colleague, and we are not unmindful of possibility they would claim we did it, similar to what they did in Zaria.
Their antecedent and evil schemes are glaring. Already they have engaged the services of unscrupulous paid agents to push down the throats of the public that it was "clash" or even "exchange of fire" through falsified news reports. What vindicates us however is the very peaceful conduct of previous and present treks. The World bears witness to our peaceful conduct in the face of persecution. No one can simply attribute violence to us overnight.
We learnt of the attack as it was being plotted and we exposed it much earlier. That the security forces brazenly executed it in broad daylight only further exposes who actually are the assailants.
The latest deadly attack on the mourning march comes despite a letter by the London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) that had called on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the safety of the IMN followers during the Arba’een commemorations.
Last month, at least 20 people were killed and several others injured when Nigerian forces opened fire at Muslim mourners commemorating Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein.
Followers of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria have been subjected to heavy-handed crackdown since last year when the army attacked a religious ceremony in their stronghold of Zaria in the north.
In December 2015, Nigerian forces raided the house of the IMN’s leader Sheikh Zakzaky and arrested him after killing those attempting to protect him, including one of the movement's senior leaders and its spokesman.
The Sheikh himself was shot seven times during the attacks and blinded in one eye and still remains in custody of the army.