Muhammad Mahmed Turi, one of the leading members of the Islamic Movement denies the group is involved in violence
Q: Your Islamic movement has been accused of maintaining two camps. One, a place where you keep arms and the second one for training your followers for terrorist activities. Could you clear these two issues raised in the police commissioner’s letter to the IG? A: These allegations are totally unfounded and baseless, especially when they are coming from the Police Commissioner, who has all the opportunities to interact with the Islamic Movement at close quarters.
I remember two months ago, I was among the delegates sent by Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky to discuss with Governor of Kaduna State and his Security Council members. The police commissioner was part of this meeting, where we discussed security situation in the state and also gave assurance to the state government that a lot of security reports emanating from the police were unfounded. The state governor had the opportunity of discussing with the Islamic Movement and I believe he was convinced as regards the veracity of our position that the security reports were fabricated.
Q: The police have said out of guilty, you quickly rushed to address the press. Could you explain the essence of the press conference?
A: Leader of the Islamic Movement addressed the press conference to clear its name on this matter and I tell you that pressmen who were conducted round all those places called terrorist training camps didn’t see anything like that at our Fudiyya Islamic Centre and Dambo Village. At the moment we have a project, to produce a film on Sheikh Othman Danfodio and I challenge everyone to go and visit the place to see whether we are stockpiling arms and ammunitions there as alleged by the Police Commissioner. Let the people go to the village and interact with the villagers, if not for anything but to confirm from them if anything like that has happened in the past or now. At least I know that our film project has assisted to bring water to the village, which hitherto was not there.
Q: In a chat with the Police Commissioner before coming here, he insisted that you people carry dangerous weapons and that you adopt the violent approach? A: The police commissioner has a hidden agenda and we don’t know who he is working for, but we can state categorically that he is interested in fomenting trouble in the state. It was obvious that he was not satisfied with the amicable manner the Islamic Movement interacted with the state government, especially at the meeting I mentioned earlier.
Q: But the police commissioner said intelligence gathered shows that your movement trains terrorists and stores arms in some of your sites. Are you saying that the intelligence report is unfounded? A: If it is true let him provide evidence. If he has it, as he claimed, let him produce it for the press or at least the IG to see it.
If he can’t produce any evidence then we urge him to please provide pictorial evidence which is easier to get. I think the commissioner is underrating the intelligence of the public by claiming that he has evidence but keeps them to himself. Secondly, his insistence portrays ulterior motive. I wonder why the state government is insisting that peace prevails in the state and the commissioner is saying no, that there is a terrorist group in the state.
What he has forgotten is that we have been in existence for over 30 years, possibly at that time he wasn’t in the police. Check the records, we are a peace-loving people and we have never at any point in time breached public peace, killed or unleashed terror on people as alleged. For example, Sheikh El-Zakzaky was born in Zaria and his mother lives with him in the same house, so what interest does he have to destabilise the peace of Zaria and people of Kaduna The commissioner is just portraying his sense of ignorance about the film village and the Islamic centre.
Let me tell you, the film we produce at the Dambo village does not portray Nigeria in bad light, instead it is produced to educate our people on the ideals of islam. Our films are on the streets here in Zaria. We produce these films to portray our ordinary socio-cultural life. So, we are surprised that someone will sit in Kaduna and tell us what is happening in our centres. The allegation of stockpiling arms at the village cannot be substantiated by the police or anybody for that matter because it is not true.