The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) says the army cannot face its members if they have weapons. The group made the comment on Monday during a press conference on the recent clash between soldiers and its members in Abuja.
Abdullahi Zango, leader of the group, said the statement issued by the military and police over the killing of Shi’ites were “fabricated lies cooked up to cover their atrocities”.
He accused the soldiers of attacking defenceless protesters.
Zango said: “They continue to say that we are armed, this is a blatant lie. If we are armed, Nigeria army cannot face us.
“If we have weapons with us, Nigeria army is too small to face us. With our courage and brevity, with empty hands, they are running away from us talk less of when we have arms.
“They know that we are not armed because they are cowards.”
Zango also accused the police of planting persons with arms among the Shi’ites in a bid to incriminate the group.
He said the movement has paid N8 million as hospital bills for 106 Shi’ites who are receiving treatment at various hospitals in Abuja.
He noted that an additional N25 million will be needed to cater for other casualties who are still recuperating.
He said the total number of persons killed by the security agents is now 47.
Zango added that the group does not regret throwing stones at the security agents during the clash, saying it is the only weapon of the defenceless.
He said: “The situation of throwing stones at them, yes it is the weapon of somebody who is not armed.”
The Nigerian army has been criticised over the handling of the altercation by its troops.
The killing of Shi’ites has been condemned by many Nigerians and rights groups, including Amnesty International, which accused the soldiers of “firing live ammunition to disperse a peaceful gathering without warning”.
The defence headquarters recently issued a fresh warning to the Shi’ites, saying “we don’t have rubber bullets when we are sent on assignments“.
Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, leader of the IMN, has been in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) since December 2015.