IT was a terrible day in Abuja as members of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) also known as Shiites protesting for the release of their leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky that resulted in bloody clashes with Nigerian police.
Many things have been reported by the media which has been debunked by the parties involved.
This comes two weeks after IMN protest turn violent at National Assembly in Abuja. Several people were killed and more than 40 members of the organisation were arrested last week after the National Assembly building was closed and gunshots fired during a demonstration. Each side blamed the other for the gunfire.
At least seven people, including a police officer, were feared killed and several injured when the protesters clashed with security officers.
About 400 members of the group have been killed by police in response to largely peaceful protests since 2015, according to human rights groups.
HAPPENING NG gathered the protest started peacefully around NITEL junction at Wuse Zone 2. The police mounted a cordon around the federal secretariat to prevent a march to the National Assembly and Three Arms Zone.
The crisis ensued when the protesters marched towards the cordon, the police officers fired teargas to disperse them. This turned the protest violent.
Many people were shot dead including a senior police officer, Deputy Commissioner of Police Umar Usman, who was in charge of Operations at the Federal Capital Territory Police Command and at least six members of Shiites.
A protester and member of the group, denied that the Shiites instigated the violence.
The protester said, “Nigeria shiites have been peaceful & unarmed for over 40yrs of our existence despite incessant attacks on us from Government side. Our Weapon has always been Knowledge’ hence, will never turns into another Boko Haram but life of Zakzaky is a no go area”.
Another Shiite Yahaya Mohammed said, “The Shiite members were only having a peaceful protest when military officers attacked them”.
“Which clash? There was no clash between us and anybody. It was a peaceful protest. Until these security officers just came and started shooting and attacking us,” he added.
Garba Shehu, a presidential spokesman, said in a series of tweets recently that President Muhammadu Buhari “will not ask the country’s judiciary to abandon due process and set a suspect free”.
Shehu accused the protesters of “openly insulting the president and other leaders”.
El-Zakzaky was incarcerated by successive military governments. A number of court orders instructing the current government to release the couple have gone unheeded.
A presidential spokesman has told the press the IMN leader was being kept in custody “for his own safety”.
For more than three decades, the Shia Muslim group has had regular run-ins with security forces in Nigeria while demonstrating against perceived religious persecution.
An analyst suggested to Al Jazeera on Monday that the security crackdown was unlikely to deter the group from taking to the streets.
“Bullets will not stop them. They will not stop until their leader is released. In fact, more violence from the state will create radicals and further make mediation difficult,” Abdullahi Murtala, a security analyst with the Abuja-based Goro Initiative, told Al Jazeera.
Murtala said the deteriorating health of the group’s leader is fuelling resolve and amplifying their frustration.
“Have you seen the protesters? Young men and women driven by ideology and willing to die for the cause,” he said.
Amnesty International in a statement said it got a report that “six people were shot dead amid a reckless use of lethal force by the Nigerian police” during the protest.
Briefing journalists at the State House after the meeting with the president, Mr Adamu said he visited to update the president on the activities of the Shiites and ”to give him an update of what is happening in the country”.
“Specifically we briefed him of the incessant acts coming out of this group of people, protesting here and there.
“We briefed him on the fact that we have been able to curtail their excesses and to let him understand that everything is under control.”
On the president’s reaction, the IGP said he was asked by the president ”to make sure the police provides security for every citizen of Nigeria and not to leave any space that some group of people will create a breakdown of law and order”.
“So, the charge by Mr President is that we must provide security for every Nigerian,” he said.
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