A few days after the Shiite or Shi’a sect was banned by Governor El Rufai, the Nigerian Army and policemen surrounded a gathering of the sect’s members in Kaduna.
The Shiite followers had assembled to celebrate the Islamic month of Muharram that is particularly significant in the sect’s calendar.
“Shortly before the Kaduna Markaz mosque on Zango Road in the state capital was encircled by armored military vehicles.
“There were heavily armed soldiers and also an ambulance were among a convoy of 18 military vehicles seen nearby,” the group said.
The group called on the President Buhari led administration to withdraw the soldiers and allow the worshippers to exercise their constitutional right of freedom of assembly and worship.
An eyewitness said that the standoff happened at the residence of a senior Shi’a leader, Muhtar Sahabi, and not a mosque.
He said dozens of armed soldiers and riot police officers surrounded the compound and were waiting for those gathered inside to leave.
He said some women and children who started coming out were sent back by the soldiers.
“It appears they want to make arrests following the recent ban,” the source said.
“As was feared, the new law appears being used as an attempt to prevent the movement’s supporters from attending ceremonies.
The military activity mirrors the mass [neutralization] of Shi’a members by the Nigerian Army in December.
The crackdown led to the arrest of its leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky. The sect’s leader remains in government custody.
The three-day clash led to the [neutralization] of 347 members of the sect and one soldier.
Despite indictment by a judicial panel set up by El Rufai, no soldier or officer of the Nigerian Army has been sanctioned since the incidence.