The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), also known as Shiites, has commended the United States for placing Nigeria in a watch list of nations that engage or tolerate religious persecution.
Naija News recalls that a statement on Friday by the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo revealed that Nigeria was added to the list alongside Cuba, Nicaragua and Sudan.
Other countries that have been on the list under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 include Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
The US Department of State also renewed the placement of Comoros, Russia and Uzbekistan on the Special Watch List (SWL).
The administration of Donald Trump also designated Boko Haram as an Entity of Particular Concern alongside al-Nusra Front, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qa’ida, al-Shabab, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Khorasan and the Taliban.
The US also condemned the continued detention of IMN leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife.
In a statement on Tuesday morning by its spokesperson, Ibrahim Musa, IMN insisted that the US action was in order.
According to the Shiites group, its persecution by Buhari’s government was a confirmation that religion was under attack in the country.
The statement noted: “The Nigerian government’s legendary disregard of the rule of law and the further acts of continuing persecution of members of the Islamic Movement, especially the impunity being constantly exhibited is well known to the International community. It is a subject of a preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.
“Furthermore, many local and international Human Rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Islamic Human Rights Commission have all investigated and documented the atrocities meted on members of the Islamic Movement and its leadership, purely based on their religious beliefs. That the ongoing persecution of the Islamic Movement has drawn the attention of the world, especially very lately, the United States government is a reality that no forms of lies by Mr. Lai can obliterate.
“The world is not deceived by the false charges levied against the Sheikh, even when about a hundred persons he was alleged to have aided and abetted were all discharged and acquitted by competent courts of law. That these charges were brought against him only after more than two years of incommunicado detention and also more than a year and a half after a Federal High Court had ordered his unconditional release is enough to show the government has been looking for an alibi to further keep him in perpetual detention.
“Not so long ago, the same Minister of Information had told Nigerians that the leader of the Movement was being detained for his own protection, not that he committed any crime. In an effort to justify the contemptuous detention, Minister Lai had told Nigerians that the Sheikh was still being detained because no one wants to be his neighbour. Mr Lai had once told a television feature program that the courts don’t have the full picture, and so will not abide by the ruling of the Court with regards to Sheikh Zakzaky. This same Mr Lai had also atrociously lied about how much the government spends to feed Sheikh Zakzaky.
“These constant changes in position as to the reason for the illegal detention of Sheikh Zakzaky betray a government pursuing some ulterior religious motives, which even Honorable Gabriel Kolawole, then of the Federal High Court acknowledged while delivering his judgment when he said: “Invidious unobtrusive acts of intolerance by majority Muslims who follow the Sunni school of thought against the minority Muslims who follow the Shiah school of thought is an important factor escalating the current crisis leading to the continued detention of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and the continued incessant persecution of its members.” This is now also the official position of the US government and no amount of lies, blackmail or intimidation can change this.
“We, the members of the Islamic Movement and our leader, Sheikh Zakzaky, are entitled to freedom of religion, association and expression like every Nigerian citizen, all of which the Buhari regime is denying us and perpetually persecuting us because of our faith and beliefs. Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky is, undoubtedly, a prisoner of faith. The government must be called to order to respect the rule of law and release Sheikh Zakzaky immediately and unconditionally.”
Source: Naija News