BY ADAKU ADINDU in Abuja•
The Nigerian Police wednesday clashed with and fired several gunshots and teargas to disperse members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) over the continued detention of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
El-Zakzaky and wife have been held by the federal government for more than two years over what the government said was an attempt to breach national security.
Several court judgments calling for their release have been rebuffed by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The protest which kick started in Area 10, Garki District of Abuja, was prevented from going further after several police officers blocked the road at Area 2, Garki, preventing the protesters from reaching Area 1 Roundabout.
There were reports by the IMN that about three of its members were feared dead during the fracas with the police.
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command Public Relations Officer, Anjuguri Manzah, explained that “following the violent protest by members of the El-Zakzaky’s group who went on rampage and were attacking innocent citizens including police operatives they arrested some members of the sect and recovered some bottles of improvised petrol-bomb, stones and catapult used by members of the sect to attack police operatives.
He added that police operational vehicles were damaged. “It is pertinent to state that the unlawful action of members of the sect which started on January 8, 2018 is constituting a serious security threat to the peace of the Federal Capital Territory and at the same time disrupting innocent citizens from going about their lawful businesses.
“In view of the current security situation in the country, the command wishes to unequivocally state that while it will continue to be professional in the discharge of its constitutional and statutory roles of the protection of lives and property of the good people of FCT; and equally recognise the rights of citizens to express their lawful grievances, the command will not fold its arms and watch some persons hold the capital city to ransom by disrupting government and legitimate business activities.”
Manzah explained that, “In view of the forgoing, the command wants to state that any person or group of persons arrested for violating the provisions of the Nigerian constitution while registering their protest will be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the appropriate section(s) of the law.
“Meanwhile, the 52 members of the El-Zakzaky group arrested by police operatives during the violent protest that left some policemen with injuries will be charged to court upon the conclusion of investigation,” he emphasised.