An aide to President Muhammadu Buhari on social media, Lauretta Onochie, has alleged that the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) popularly called Shi’ites are receiving funding from Iran. Onochie’s allegation follows the violent protest by the group which claimed the lives of a deputy commissioner of police in charge of operations at the Federal Capital Territory, Usman Umar, a Channels TV reporter, Precious Owolabi, and some others allegedly identified as Shi’ite members. Lauretta Onochie @Laurestar I hope those who receive funding from Iran to keep the Shiites, including their school age children on the streets, will be held accountable for the needless deaths of a Police Officer, a Promising Youth Corper and some youngsters of the sect. #[email protected] 127 8:15 AM – Jul 23, 2019 77 people are talking about this The group has been staging protests demanding the release of the leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El- Zakzaky, who has been under state detention since 2015, despite a court order asking to be released since 2016.
Though Onochie did not back her allegation up with any evidence, the Iranian government’s sympathetic stance on the development might be the reason for the presidential aide’s claim. The Iranian government in 2016 described the continued incarceration El-Zakzaky as illegal and unfair. This is according to the country’s then ambassador to Nigeria Saeed Koozechi. He said that the official position of the Islamic Republic of Iran is that El- Zakzaky “should not be kept in detention for a long time.” “The Shi’ite is a small minority group in Nigeria, they engage in peaceful religious activities, they are not harmful to anyone,” Koozechi said.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that the presidency appealed to the El-Zakzaky-led Shi’ite members to desist from needless violent, street protests and await the decision of the court in Kaduna where their leader is currently being tried. According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja on Friday, July 2019, El-ZakZaky’s issue is before the court in Kaduna and his supporters should focus on his ongoing trial instead of causing daily damages, disruptions and public nuisance in Abuja. Shehu maintained that the case involving El- zakzaky was no longer in government domain, stressing that the federal government no more has hands in the matter.
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