THE Inspector General of Police (IGP), Idris Ibrahim, on Tuesday, justified the killing of Shi’ite protesters in Kano, saying the police had to employ maximum force because members of the Islamic religious sect were “armed to the teeth.”
Several members of the the sect, which goes by the name, Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), on Monday, clashed with the police while observing an annual rite around Tamburawa, on the outskirts of Kano city.
But speaking with State House correspondents at the end of the launch of the 2017 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Emblem, held at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa and presided over by Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, the police boss agreed that protesters should not be killed, but insisted that if those involved in it were armed to the teeth, killing police officers, the public should appreciate and sympathise with the method deployed by the police.
When asked if there were ways of quelling riot without killing those involved, the IGP said: “I agree with what you said, but when you have Nigerians armed to the teeth, killing police officers, I don’t think it happens anywhere. I think as Nigerians, we have to appreciate a dangerous situation, and be sympathetic with the police that are being killed by some of these miscreants.
“Obviously, from time to time, we have been experiencing upheavals from this set of people. As police officers, we have responsibility to ensure there is law and order and when you have people taking over the whole country, dominating streets and buildings, we have to come in to maintain sanity in those areas.
“As of early yesterday (Monday), we got information that they were trying to block Kano to Zaria road. They later assembled in large numbers and our officers were deployed to the place to ensure freedom of movement of ordinary Nigerians.
“They attacked our officers, killed one of our officers, one has sustained an arrow wound on his head and obviously in such a situation, police have the responsibility to ensure free movement of people on the road. And that was what our officers did.”
On the possible transmutation of the sect to a terrorist group, Ibrahim noted: “Obviously, it is. Whether now or whenever, as police officers, we have a responsibility to ensure there is law and order in any part of this country and to ensure that no organisation or individual should constitute themselves into a government, block passages and buildings.”
Against the argument that Nigeria’s constitution guarantees freedom of movement in the country, the police boss insisted that the Shi’ite movement were blocking the road and not exercising freedom of movement.
According to him: “What happens is that there is nothing like freedom there. When you worship, you go to mosques or churches. Blocking highways and passages doesn’t constitute part of worship.
“My message to Nigerians is that all of us should be our brother’s keepers. We should appreciate the feeling of others that where your right ends, another person’s right begins.
“Every Nigerian has a right that must be protected. We should ensure we protect the rights of every individual: right of freedom, right of association and right of movement.”
Reacting, secretary of IMN Media Forum, Abdulmumini Giwa, however, said, members of the movement were armless.
“We have the video clips to show to the world and let them see if we carried offensive objects.
“The shooting by the police was the highest level of cruelty against a people that were holding peaceful procession. They arrested some of our members with bullet wounds. They deposited 40 bodies at Murtala Hospital and their headquarters at Bompai,” he said.
Meanwhile, the members have called on the police to release the over 50 members of their sect, who, they said, “were gruesomely sent to untimely death last Monday,” to allow them to give them a befitting burial in accordance to Islamic injunction.
This was just as the sect threatened to drag the security operative to court.
They also vowed that no amount of persecution or attack from the police or any security operative could prevent them from practising their religion in accordance with the doctrine they believed.
It will be recalled that pandemonium broke out last Monday, in the ancient city of Kano, when eight members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), popularly known as Shi’ite in Kano, lost their lives while one policeman was killed and four others injured. This followed a violent clash that occurred on Monday, around Tsmburawa, on Kano-Zaria Road.
The police confirmed that eight members of the Zakyzaky-led movement lost their lives in confrontation with the security operatives, who prevented them from taken laws into their hands.
However, while speaking with some journalists on Tuesday, Alhaji Sanusi Abdulkadri Koki , accused the police of allegedly hiding the actual figure of their members who were killed .
According to him, “It Is far from being true the purported figure released about the number killed when they attacked us on our trekking journey to Zaria, the figure is above 50, because as of now, some of our members are still missing.”
He disclosed that the actual fact was that “when the police saw the magnitude of numbers of our members who were killed and deposited in the mortuary, they went back in the night to remove some to undisclosed place so as not to be able to categorically say the number killed.
“It is worrisome, saddening and pathetic that the police can go to that extent of killing innocent people who were observing their right,without confronting anybody or causing any havoc,” he added.