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Nigeria seeking to eradicate IMN, supporters: Analyst

21 November 2016 16:08

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Nigerian government forces have been conducting the most extensive crackdown on the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) since last year. They’ve killed and injured hundreds of the movement’s members and supporters, detained its leader, and razed its schools, hospitals and religious seminaries. Press TV has interviewed two experts to analyze the reasons behind the massive crackdown on the Muslim group.

Massoud Shadjareh, with the Islamic Human Rights Commission, believes that the Nigerian government and armed forces have been resorting to extensive measures to wipe out the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, because of both internal and external factors.

Shadjareh noted that the both Nigerian government and the state of Kaduna have been committing massacres against the Islamic Movement of Nigeria.

He cited the results of an inquiry which revealed that Nigerian armed forces had killed the IMN supporters and buried in mass graves during attacks that occurred last year.

The analyst noted that the Nigerian government has fallen short of condemning this sort of behavior, adding that not even a single member of the armed forces was arrested or held accountable even after that inquiry confirmed that these atrocities had been committed.

The IMN has enemies both inside the African country and in other states, he said, noting that the movement has “been vocal against corruption and the policies which have brought no benefit to ordinary Nigerians and [have] only made a few people rich.”

He stated that the IMN is “challenging injustice and corruption” while it is not affiliated to any political party.

According to the activist, the Nigerian army and government commit crimes against the Islamic Movement because it “has 15 million actual members and five million supporters”. The movement’s success, he said, is the reason why it is “being targeted so vigorously, so violently and so systematically.”

He then pointed out to the enemies outside the African country who want the movement to be eradicated. “WikiLeaks documents show that the Saudi Embassy [and diplomatic services] have been putting pressure on Nigeria to deal with the Islamic Movement because it’s very vocal against Saudi Arabia.”

Shadjareh said Saudi authorities spend money to influence the internal policies of other states, be it in Nigeria or the United States. “Their system works by paying bribes around the world to get their deeds done.”

He also referred to the recent massacre of the Shia mourners during the Arba’een rituals, adding that Nigerian security forces did not even spare the infants among the crowd.

The atrocities, he argued, come despite the widespread acknowledgement that the Islamic Movement “is not committing any violence.”

He further said the detainees are being denied medical attention, “including [IMN leader] Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife,” who were arrested over 10 months ago.

“This is really horrifying that a government behaves worse than thugs and terrorists, and commits these inhumane acts against its own citizens.”

Shadjareh noted that the IMN is not just a Shia movement; rather it is an Islamic movement which comprises of both Shia and Sunni Muslims.

Meanwhile, Nii Akuetteh, an African policy analyst, pointed to the killing and injuring of Shia mourners in Nigeria, and said that human rights violations there “happen too often.”

According to the commentator, the government in Nigeria deals with various groups in a heavy-handed manner and when it comes to the Shia community “it looks like this is a recurring incident.”

However, he opposed the notion that the Nigerian government is seeking to exterminate the Shia community in the African country, saying that “the current president is a Muslim himself and he has huge votes in the north. So why would he adopt a policy to wipe out the Shia community?”

Akuetteh also called on the Iranian government to contact the Nigerian government and discuss the situation of Shia Muslims in the African state.

Nigerian forces have demolished IMN buildings and brutally killed some 100 members of the group in recent days.

In December 2015, armed forces  killed 348 Muslims during an attack on a religious center in the city of Zaria. They also injured and arrested IMN’s leader, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky.

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