28 July 2019
The Socialist Party of Nigeria issued a press release on the deadly protests by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) that the group has claimed led to the deaths of over 20 of their members, just this week.
The full press statement is reproduced below.
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) holds the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government of Nigeria responsible for the bloody turnout of the protest by members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) to demand the release of their leader, Sheikh El-Zakzaky. We hold the Buhari-led regime responsible based on the failure of the regime to obey all court orders ordering the release of the detained Shiites’ leader and previous recorded cases of Police and army brutality including extra-judicial killings against the Shiites anytime they embarked on protests and religious processions.
While not endorsing violence as a legitimate form of protest, we however, believe that the violent form which the Shiites hitherto peaceful protest has started to assume chaotic nature is a logical consequence of repeated brutal experience at the hands of the police and army. We recall that this was the same way and manner Boko Haram emerged in 2009 into a deadly force as a result of similar mishandling and extra-judicial killings by forces of the Nigerian capitalist state. We warn the Buhari government not to open another front of terrorism, insecurity and instability for Nigeria through its clueless, heavy-handed and unnecessarily brutal handling of the Shiite issue.
According to media reports, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Usman Umar and a member of the National Youth Service Corps serving with Channels Television, Precious Owolabi, a news channel covering the protests, have been confirmed dead aside other many other wounded, including police officers and protesters. We commiserate with the families of the dead and empathise with the injured. However, we place the blame of the deaths recorded in the protests at the foot of the Buhari-led regime and the security establishments (Nigeria Police Force, Military etc.) that have been repressing the Shiites’ protests with live ammunition and water cannons.
We of the Socialist Party of Nigeria defend the right to peaceful assembly and mass protests. We are quick to oppose the proclamations of the Buhari-led regime and the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammadu Adamu to settle scores with the Shiites in an “enough-is-enough” fashion. We view this as a grand attempt to draw a wide blanket of repression on innocent citizens in the name of repressing Shiites.
While we uphold the right of Shiites to peaceful demonstrations, we are not oblivious of the historical origins and social character of Shiites. We know for a fact that Shiites are believers of the tendency of Islam that regard the teachings of Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W) and the writings of his sons as opposed to the Sunnis who regard the Quran as the sole revelation of Islamic teachings. We are aware of the sectarian Sunni-Shiites conflicts that have broken out across the world in such places including but not limited to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, among others. We are also aware of the role of the United States’ imperialism and others in these conflicts.
As socialists, we are opposed to sectarianism that divides working people along ethnic and religious lines. We are of the view that the Shiites’ issue, if not properly handled by the Buhari-led regime can degenerate into similar bloody Sunni-Shiites’ conflicts as seen in other parts of the world.
We call on all sections of the broader working people’s movement – labour movement, students’ movement, left strata – to rise and resist the wave of bloody repression of peaceful demonstrations that is being unveiled by the Buhari-led regime. We demand the immediate release of Sheik El-Zakzaky and other IMN members in detention, who is being illegally and unjustly detained by the Buhari-led regime.
We restate our age-long call for the building of a broader mass working people’s political alternative anchored on a clear socialist programme. The starting point of this can be the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) which is why we are calling on the labour movement and all change-seeking Nigerians to join us in our quest for socialist transformation of Nigeria. We call for a rolling working people’s political mass movement, drawing all oppressed layers, irrespective of ethnic and religious divisions, to put in power a revolutionary working people’s government that can place the commanding heights of the economy on a planned economy by under democratic working people’s control and end the misery of want amidst abundance.
Acting National Chairperson