Nigerian police have disrupted Muharram ceremonies in the northern city of Sokoto, arresting at least six of the participants.
A number of Shia Muslims were arrested while performing their mourning rituals that are related to the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, peace be upon him. The ceremonies were being held despite a ban by Sokoto state on the group’s activities.
"The Shia community is highly dismayed when news emanated that Sokoto state Commissioner of justice has announced the ban on Shia processions in the state," said a Shia spokesman.
"For the avoidance of any doubt we would like to remind the state government and the general public that all our processions have been peaceful throughout the history of the Shia community. In fact, the last three processions held by Shias in Nigeria in Sokoto metropolis were devoid of anything unpleasant and even enjoyed police protection as ordered by the constitution. Hence we are surprised by the anticipated public disorder as proclaimed by the commissioner," he added.
Meanwhile, the Shia community has held a fresh protest in the capital Abuja, demanding the release of their jailed leader Sheikh Zakzaky.