For the last few days since the start of this year’s mourning sessions across the globe, there are increasing indications that the Nigerian government is poised to repeat the brutal assault it carried out in previous years against mourners.
Banner headlines, obviously government-sponsored, in major Nigerian Newspapers have carried disturbing threats by the Buhari government that it is poised to kickstart the unjustified trampling on the rights of people who are taking part in their religious duties in Nigeria, in scandalous violation of all known sane laws.
Already, in the last few days, the Nigerian Police force has been threatening fire and brimstone against a minority religious community and even going further to claim that they will be enforcing a dubious ban on their religious practices during this period in time. It is noteworthy that these religious observances are global events and not peculiar to Nigerian minority Shi’ite community.
Already Ashura mourning religious rites of the Shi’ites are well underway in nooks and crannies of the country. They face significant threats from the Nigerian government
This is clearly in contradiction to the sections of the Nigerian Constitution that guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change one’s religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate one’s religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
Rather than the Nigerian government to direct its might to tackle the security challenges bedeviling the country, they prefer to use their forces for unwarranted arrests by policemen, gleefully wielding their arms all over in nooks and crannies of the country, while governors are sent on errands to negotiate with armed bandits all over the place. In the past few years, Ashura mourning congregations were attacked all over the country, with crude clubs and sticks as well as tear gas all deployed against peaceful mourners observing their religious obligations.
In the past few years, Ashura mourning congregations were attacked all over the country, with crude clubs and sticks as well as tear gas all deployed against peaceful mourners observing their religious obligations. We witnessed how the government contracted some hoodlums and ferried them in Police vehicles to attack Shi’ah activities, persons and properties by confronting processions, burning homes and business premises, as well as assaulting mourners as they make their way to or from the gatherings. The impunity, misuse of office and disregard to their constitutionally guaranteed rights using state-sponsored terror tactics by government and security agents tramples on their rights to worship, associate and propagate their beliefs freely.
It should be made clear, for the avoidance of doubts, that Ashura mourning events and processions are their religious duties and obligations as can be seen to be similarly observed worldwide. Nigerian Shi’ah minority community has continued to lawfully and peacefully challenge all forms of extreme hate directed against it and seek redress in the most appropriate ways in the face of all the provocations.
It is worth remembering that in all the years since the Ashura procession started in Nigeria, participants have never once resorted to violence even in the face of a bloody history of attacks against them by the brutal might of the state.
As Ashura procession is set to be marked worldwide, a significant threat to the lives and properties of the Shi’ah community exists here in Nigeria considering the antecedents.
The government and anyone else involved in these nefarious plans must therefore be called to order, to uphold the rights of the participants and ensure their total protection everywhere. The Buhari government will particularly be held responsible for any harm that may be inflicted on the persons and properties of Ashura mourners.