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Islamic Movement in Nigeria rejects allegations of violence

Members of Islamic Movement in Nigeria take part in a demonstration against the detention of their leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky in Abuja on January 22, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has dismissed claims of violence raised against the movement, holding President Muhammadu Buhari responsible for the Zaria massacre.

Buhari was behind the Nigerian army's massacre of Shia Muslims supporting Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky in the northern city of Zaria in 2015, a spokesman for IMN, Muktar Aabdulrahman Auwal, told reporters at an event on Sunday.

The spokesman called for the release of the prominent cleric, who has been in custody since 2015, following the deadly crackdown on his supporters.

He criticized the Buhari government for ignoring a court order to release Zakzaky, adding that the IMN will continue protests until the movement’s leader is set free and those responsible for the Zaria massacre are brought to justice.  

“We wish to state as follows: that the protests on the streets of Abuja are as a result of the government’s disregard to the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction, the Federal High Court Abuja, which freed the leader of the Movement from an illegal detention insinuated by the government as Protective Custody,” he said.

The spokesman insisted that the IMN was a peaceful group, rejecting the allegation of violence.

Meanwhile, the presidential spokesman, on Friday, urged members of the movement to halt further street protests and await the outcome of a judicial decision on their leader’s fate.

“As far as this country’s Ministry of Justice is concerned, the case involving El-Zakzaky is no longer in its domain. The Federal Government no more has hands in the matter and, to that extent, the government at the centre can be said to be clear of any alleged violation of court orders as being trumpeted every day,” Garba Shehu said, adding, “These rallies and street dances ostensibly to openly insult the President and other leaders, threatening bloodshed will lead nowhere.”

Shehu told Zakzaky supporters to respect the rights of other citizens, warning them to cease their protests.

Zakzaky supporters believe the Buhari government ordered the bloody 2015 Zaria massacre.

“It is not possible to exonerate President Muhammadu Buhari from the genocide perpetrated by the Nigerian Army under his command as Commander-in-Chief, where over 1000 unarmed members of the Movement including men, women and children were killed on 12th-14th of December 2015,” IMN reiterated in a statement.

The IMN also accuses the Buhari government of concocting fresh court cases against the movement’s leader, who is debilitated by illness, to coax the movement into the use of violence.

“We therefore call on the Nigerian government to stop deceiving the public by trying to paint itself as Saint in a place its actions are worse than those of the Devil.”

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