By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The honeymoon between President Muhammadu Buhari and the United States may be coming to an end as the US yesterday called on the federal government to stop the killings of members of the Shia Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN).
In a statement issued by the State Department, the US said it was ‘deeply concerned’ by the deaths of dozens of Nigerians during clashes between individuals participating in a Shia procession and the Nigerian Police Force in Kano State on November 14.
“While the matter is still under investigation, we are troubled by the apparent disproportionate response by the police,” the statement added.
US described the Kano killings as the latest in a series of violent incidents between security forces and members of IMN, some of which it said, had resulted in deaths, destruction of property, and the arbitrary detention of IMN members.
The statement reads: “The United States calls for calm and restraint on all sides, a reduction of tensions, and greater communication between Shia citizens and government authorities.
“Members of the Shia community, like other religious communities, have the right to assemble, peacefully express their religious beliefs, and mark their celebrations. We call on the Nigerian government to protect and defend these rights.
“It is also incumbent on members of the IMN and all Nigerian citizens to respect the rule of law and cooperate with the police as they attempt to maintain public order.
“We continue to urge the government to ensure accountability for the deaths of more than 300 IMN members during December 15, 2015 clashes between the IMN and security forces in Zaria, Kaduna State.
“We also call on the Nigerian government to conduct a transparent investigation of the latest incidents and bring to account anyone responsible for violating the law.”
On Tuesday, the Inspector-General of Police, Idris Ibrahim, said his men killed members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) during a clash in Kano State on Monday because they (IMN members) were armed to the teeth and were ready to kill police officers.
Ibrahim said his men were left with no option but to respond to the threat by the Shiites.
He said: “When you have Nigerians armed to the teeth, killing police officers, I don’t think it happens anywhere. I think as Nigerians, we have to appreciate, when you appreciate a dangerous situation, and to be sympathetic with the police that are being killed by some of these miscreants.”
He said the police had the responsibility to ensure law and order in a situation where people take over the whole country.