Jummai Karofi: Life as a member of the banned Shia group

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Jummai Karofi has not seen her three children since a government crackdown in 2015 on the Shia organisation she’s a part of – the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).

“They were killing people not minding what age or what gender these people belong to. It was just a sin to belong to the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN). That was just a sin,” Jummai says. 

Led by Ibraheem Zakzaky, the Shia group, Islamic Movement in Nigeria is banned in the country. 

“I would be lying if I said I knew what happened to them. They might be lying somewhere in a mass grave somewhere or they might be in some detention facility somewhere. Within or inside the country, we don’t know.”

“I didn’t have any contact with them after the two calls that they made. The first was to tell me that there were military personnel with their ammunition surrounding the area and the second call to me that some people are being shot at.”

It’s really, really, terrible.”

More than 300 IMN followers were killed in the 2015 military crackdown on their gathering in Zaria, Northern Nigeria

“I have met with mothers who have seen the dead bodies of their dead children. And they said to me: ‘I’m thankful that I have at least the true knowledge that he is not here anymore.’But as for me, the mere thought of them is great pain.” 

“Not knowing is worse than actually seeing the dead body of your own.”

“Each time you sit down, each time you see their pictures, you keep asking the picture: ‘where are you?’ ‘Are you here or are you there?’,” she added.

Jummai Karofi says however the ban has not changed her perception on her beliefs.

“The ban has not in any way changed the way I believe or changed my method of worship. The aim of Islamic Movement is to purify the mind, to make you as an individual a good person like feeling responsible for others.”

“So what is terrorism in this?,” she questions sadly.

The Nigerian government says IMN is a violent group that has attacked law enforcement agencies including the army. The group has since denied allegations of violence and accuse the security forces of over-reacting to peaceful protests.

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