Tears flowed freely on Monday in Abuja as thousands of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), popularly known as Shiites, gathered to honour their “fallen heroes and martyrs killed by security operatives across the country”.
The event, which took place at 7 Uption Garden Garki, Abuja, was marked with sober reflection and emotions with portrait photographs of the deceased on display. The deceased include children.
Sheikh Abdulhameed Bello, the Chairman of Shuhada Foundation, who addressed a large crowd of supporters of Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky during the Annual Yaumus Shuhada Foundation event, said the group had lost 998 members to the “brutality of the Police and Army”.
Bello stated that the Shuhada Foundation was formulated to cater to the orphans, widows, aged parents and family members left behind by the deceased. He added that the foundation sponsors the education of the children from nursery to university level.
“We take care of the medical bills of anyone of them that is sick and has health challenges. We also take care of their welfare like marriages and celebration of Salah programme. These martyrs as we are all aware are those that were killed by either by Nigerian Army and the Police,” Bello stated.
He decried the attitude of security agencies toward the activities of the movement, stating that the group would not give up in its mandate to exercise its religious belief, despite the intimidation by security agencies.
The protesters, who displayed portraits of the “martyrs” and chanted anti-government songs, were drawn from Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Nasarawa and Kebbi states.
The injured members of the movement, particularly those with gunshot injuries, were seen walking with the aid of crutches.
The IMN has held series of protests to demand the release of El-Zakzaky, the IMN Leader, who has been in custody since December 2015, following a violent clash between the movement and the Nigerian Army, during which many people lost their lives.