By Stephen Lawal
There are reports of at least 50 fatalities and hundreds of people injured after combined Operation of Nigeria Army Members of the Department of the State Security Service (SSS)and the Police Men opened fire on a peaceful procession making its way to annual 40th day commemorations of Martyred of the Grand Son of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
The procession is one of many strands from all over the country making their way to From Kano to Zaria Kaduna state where they will join the main procession which in previous years has been attended by several million people.
Tear gas was also fired at the marchers by Nigeria soldiers and Police on the supervision of Members of the State Security Service (SSS) who blocked the road along Kwanar Dawaki in Kano state seeking to stop the procession from proceeding to its destination.
Eye-witnesses report that the procession was set upon by Nigeria soldiers Members of the State Security Service (SSS) and the Police at three different locations.
The attacks come despite a letter last week by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) to the Nigerian president demanding that he act to ensure the protection of those taking part in the annual 40th day commemorations of Ashura next week.
The letter followed credible reports that the military plans to sabotage Arbaeen processions (as they are known) in a continuation of its persecution of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria which organises the events.
Today's military attacks follow similar events last month when Ashura commemorations were targeted by security forces across several states in northern Nigeria in a continuing crackdown on the IMN. Over a dozen people were killed by police and army gunfire during the processions and many others beaten by thugs hired by the authorities to sabotage the events. Places of worship associated with the IMN were also attacked.
The Nigerian state has launched a bloody crackdown on the IMN in a bid to stem its growing popularity with rank and file Nigerians. An unprovoked attack by soldiers in December 2015 led to over 1000 people, mainly IMN members and supporters, being killed. The leader of the IMN, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky was shot and arrested. He remains imprisoned without charge, in flagrant violation of domestic and international law