Abuja: Police, Shiites clash over El-Zakzaky


It was chaos Monday afternoon in the streets of Abuja as members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), also called Shiites, clashed with police officers during a protest demanding the release of their spiritual leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.

Eyewitnesses have taken to social media to report gunshots from the police as protesters were also attacked with tear gas and water canons.

Trouble has reportedly spread through Maitama, Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Unity Fountain, Millennium Park and Ministers Hill in the capital city as protesters reportedly fought back.

Some of them were recorded on video attacking a Police anti-riot van after it sprayed the mob with water from mounted canons.

It remains unclear what led to Monday’s altercation, but tension has been brewing for months as the protesters march everyday in an unrelenting effort to secure the release of their leader.

Last week, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command banned protests and rallies at the Unity Fountain in Abuja where the Shiites usually stage their protests.

The ban had resulted in the arrest of Deji Adeyanju, the convener of Concerned Nigerians group, which organises daily sit-outs at the Unity Fountain in demand for El-Zakzaky’s release.

El-Zakzaky has been in custody for two years after the Nigerian Army raided his residence in Zaria and killed hundreds of his followers, including three of his sons, in December 2015.

This was a direct consequence of his followers’ clash with the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai.

Despite the court order of Justice Gabriel Kolawole calling for his release on December 2, 2016, after he ruled that the government’s justification of “holding him for his own protection” is insufficient, the cleric remains in government custody with his wife.

After rumours of his death-intensified protests in January, the DSS allowed him to speak to the media on January 13, his first public appearance since his incarceration.

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