The United States has criticized the Nigerian Police Force for the manner with which it handled the procession by members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, which led to a clash that recorded fatalities on both side.
A statement issued by the Information Office of the US embassy on Friday in Abuja, described the response of the police during the clash as “disproportionate” and called for calm and restraint on both sides, as well a reduction of tension and greater communication between Shi’ite members and government authorities.
The US statement noted that the federal government should defend the rights of the Shiite Islamic sect to assemble and peacefully express their religious beliefs and mark their celebrations, just like any other religious group in the country.
The Statement read: “The US is 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 US also urged members of the IMN and all citizens of Nigeria to respect the rule of law and cooperate with the police in their attempt to maintain public order.
Referring to a similar clash between the Nigerian Army and the Shiite sect in Kaduna state, December 2015, the US called on the government to ensure accountability for the deaths of more than 300 members of the sect who died in the face-off.
“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,” the statement added.
Members of the IMN have been protesting in various states of the North, calling for the release of their leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky who has remained in custody of the Department of State Services, DSS, since the clash with the army.