The United States Government on Friday expressed its concern over last Monday’s deaths that resulted from clashes between people in a Shia procession and the Nigeria Police in Kano.
John Kirby, U.S. Department of State’s Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson, said that although the incident was under investigation, his government was troubled by the response of the police.
“The United States 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.
While the matter is still under investigation, we are troubled by the apparent disproportionate response by the police.
This is the latest in a series of violent incidents between security forces and members of the Shia Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), some of which have resulted in deaths, destruction of property, and the arbitrary detention of IMN members.
The United States calls for calm and restraint on all sides, a reduction of tensions, and greater communication between Shia citizens and government authorities,’’ he said.
According to him, members of the Shia community, like other religious communities, have the right to assemble, peacefully express their religious beliefs, and mark their celebrations.
Kirby said that said that his government had called on the Nigerian government to protect and defend the rights of the Shia community.
The U.S. official also enjoined members of the IMN and Nigerians to respect the rule of law and cooperate with the police, as they attempt to maintain public order.
Kirby also called on the Nigerian government to ensure accountability for the deaths of more than 300 IMN members during the 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,’’ he added.
Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, following the clash, had said that his men were confronted by protesters who were armed to the teeth.
He said rather than condemning the police action, Nigerians should sympathise with the policemen who were killed by those he described as miscreants.
“I agree with what you said (that Nigerians should not be killed while quelling riot) but 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 a dangerous situation, and be sympathetic with the policemen that are being killed by some of these miscreants,” he said.
Ibrahim said police officers who had the responsibility to ensure law and order decided to move against the group known to always cause crisis.