Some members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) again clashed with security agencies yesterday over the continued detention of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
The Shiites leader has remained incarcerated despite several court rulings ordering the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to release him.
Hundreds of the sect members stormed the National Assembly complex in Abuja at about 1:00 p.m. and engaged security operatives in a fierce confrontation.
Having overpowered the personnel at the first gate, the protesters marched to the second gate in a bloody climax that claimed the life of a policeman and two sect members.
Some of the protesters allegedly snatched a gun from a policeman and opened fire. Security men were also said to have shot at the protesters.
Images have emerged of a bloodied youth being rushed away from the scene. Also, a young lady said to have been shot in the chest, was seen writhing in pain.
Members of the sect have reportedly vowed the protest will continue today, and until their leader is freed.
The police issued a statement saying they foiled an attempt by IMN members to invade the legislative complex. The Spokesman of the FCT command, DSP Anjuguri Manzah, said the group, which initially veiled the march as a peaceful protest, became violent and tried to force its way into the complex. He said his men acted proactively, professionally, and deployed minimum force in dispersing the protesters.
Manzah said: “Forty members of the sect have been arrested in connection with the violent protest. An investigation is in progress. In view of the foregoing, the command wishes to state unequivocally that while it recognises and respects the right of citizens to peaceful procession, an attempt by any individual or group of persons to cause the breakdown of law and order will not be tolerated. Those arrested in the process will be dealt with in accordance with the appropriate law of the land.
“Members of the public are enjoined to go on with their lawful activities as normalcy has been restored and adequate security measures have been emplaced by the command to forestall any security breach.”
The protest might have been informed by the latest appeal by the sect on the health condition of its leader.
On Sunday, El-Zakzaky’s son, Mohammed, raised the alarm that there was a “deliberate attempt to assassinate my parents though deliberate negligence of their health.” He told reporters in Abuja: “The fact that they managed to survive this long is a miracle,” and appealed to the government to grant them access to medical treatment abroad.