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Following arbitrary arrests and subsequent detention  of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria by the Kebbi state government, it has come to our notice that Governor Atiku Bagudu is silently launching a sectarian mission against Shi’ites and Islix Movement in the state.

The Kebbi state government, using the Police, has made several arrests in different parts of the state, thereby subjecting members of the IMN who the government see as Shi’ites to outright intimidation and suppression. As at Sunday 08/05/16 the Nigeria police has arrested more than 20 members of the IMN living in Gwandu town of Kebbi state.

The first arrest was made on Friday 06/05/16, where 13 members of IMN were arrested by the DPO in Gwandu with one Bello Agro showing them whom to arrest. What is astonishing about this particular arrest is that the accused were not arrested inside a mosque holding an educational session, rather they were arrested in their homes at Adarawa neighborhood of Gwandu to justify the government’s sectarian cleansing agenda. Among those arrested are five women, including 2 minors – Nana Firdausi Usman, just six years of age and Siddiqa Aliyu, who is 13 years old.

As if that was not enough the following day Saturday, the police again went to town arresting whosoever they met on their way among members of IMN.

The arrests continued on Sunday wherein a contingent of the police went to the residence of the Representative of members of IMN in Gwandu and arrested five persons and members of his immediate family including young children.

Had it been brothers of the Islamic Movement staged a public preaching session or any of their public enlightenment activity, it would have been assumed as the reason for the arrest, but none has happened. The question remains why the arrests now? Why is the state government suddenly violating the constitution and using state machinery for personal sectarian whim?

The Islamic Movement is left with no option but to assume its members in Gwandu were arrested simply because of their faith – Shi’a Islam. But when has being a Shi’a become a crime in Nigeria, where freedom of religion and assembly is guaranteed by the constitution?

It seems the state government is bent on using state apparatus to persecute some religious minorities. We therefore wish to draw the attention of the public and well meaning Nigerians that the trend embarked upon by these people who believe that anybody that does not share their myopic view of religion deserve not to live freely, is a dangerous trend.

The desperation exhibited by these ISIS-minded people in government and in uniform can be seen from the way they arrested women in their homes and underage children. If all what has happened was without the blessings of the Chief security officer of the state, Governor Bagudu, then we expect those who made the arrest to be called to order. No matter how much they hate members of IMN, they should wait till they breach any law and order before arresting them.

We are not unmindful of the arrest of about 20 members of IMN 2 months ago in Birnin Kebbi, whose trial is being scuffled by the prosecution witnesses. The case has been adjourned for the sixth time in a row, in what can be termed ‘justice delayed’, which they say is ‘justice denied.’

Why is Kebbi state now leading the chart in efforts to persecute and jail members of IMN? Probably some people are not comfortable with the fact that for some decades Kebbi state has not been in the news for the wrong reason. We therefore wish to call on peace loving citizens of Kebbi state to prevail upon the political leaders of the state not to drag the name of their state in the mud.




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