By Mohammed Lere
A police chief has charged officers to monitor the activities of Shiites in a part of Nigeria.
The Assistant Inspector-General of Police, AIG, in charge of Zone One, comprising Kano, Katsina and Jigawa States, Adamu Ibrahim, charged police officers in the zone to remain vigilant and monitor activities of Shiites in the zone.
Mr. Ibrahim gave the charge while addressing officers of Jigawa Police Command in Dutse on Wednesday.
He explained that the recent clash between the Shiites and police in Kano indicated that they were a violent group and must be monitored seriously.
The AIG said that intelligence report had shown that the group had members all over the country and had leadership structure in 36 states of the federation, including Jigawa.
According to him, the leader of the group in every state is called ‘Governor’, pointing out that the police would not allow the group to form a parallel government in the country.
Mr. Ibrahim, therefore, tasked officers of the state police command to monitor the Shiites to ensure peace in the zone.
Mr. Ibrahim’s statement comes a month after at least nine people were killed in Kano after police forcefully stopped a Shiite protest.
The police said eight Shiites and a police sergeant were killed in the clash and blamed the religious group for the violence. The Shiites said over a dozen of their members were killed when the ice used force to disband a peaceful protest.
Wednesday’s statement by the police also comes a few weeks after the Kaduna State government labelled the Shiites, a religious minority in Northern Nigeria, an “insurgent group” that should be dealt with.
The group has repeatedly protested to demand the release of its leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky who was arrested without trial since December last year after over 300 Shiites were killed by soldiers in Kaduna.
Rights groups, activist, lawyers and the U.S. have cautioned the Nigerian government against criminalising the Shiites for their religious beliefs.
On Wednesday, Mr. Ibrahim also commended the Jigawa police for tackling the menace of kidnapping, armed robbery as well as farmer/herdsmen clashes in the state.