Nigerian police arraign 120 Shiites after Abuja violence

Arrested Shi'ite members packed in a police van that brought them to court
Arrested Shi'ite members packed in a police van that brought them to court

At least 130 members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria were brought to a Magistrate court on Thursday. They were to be arraigned for alleged unlawful assembly.

The Shiite members were recently arrested following clashes between the group and soldiers in Abuja.

About 120 of them, all men, were arraigned on Thursday. Another 10 female Shiites brought to court could not be arraigned.

A clerk of the court told PREMIUM TIMES that the courtroom meant for the arraignment of the women did not sit.

About 400 Shiite members were arrested and detained after the army accused the group of confrontation, resulting in a clampdown that led to the death of over two dozen Shiite members in and around Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

The group clashed with the army during its inter-state protest between last Saturday and Tuesday.

Although they denied confronting the army, some security vehicles were reported to have been destroyed by the Shiite members.

Those brought to court on Thursday were arrested for the Tuesday incident in the Abuja city centre.

On Thursday, the police arraigned the accused in four courtrooms within the Wuse Magistrate Court, Abuja.

Two of the courtrooms had 35 accused persons each. Twenty were arraigned in another courtroom and 30 others in another courtroom for the same offence.

According to the charge, the Shiite members continued in an unlawful assembly, “despite knowing that they have been commanded to dispersed.”

They were also accused of disturbing public peace, rioting and causing hurt.

The alleged crimes are contrary to sections 79, 104, 113, 106 and 242 of the Penal Code.

It charge reads thus:

“That on October, 30, at about 2pm, at different parts of FCT and its environs, following a tip off that some group of persons were rioting, disturbing public peace and blocking vehicular movements-Immediately a team of police men, led by assistant commissioner of police in charge of operation FCT Police command Abuja, ACP Valantine Olumesi arrived at the scene and met you whose names appeared overleap, riotously gathered and blocking vehicular movements and you were ordered to disperse peacefully and you refused and started throwing stones on the police officers and other members of the public and thereby caused them bodily harm.

“You thereby reasonably suspected to have committed the above mentioned offence.”

They pleaded not guilty to the charges and were subsequently granted bail, with various conditions.

A Magistrate, Lateef Afolabi, who had 20 of the accused arraigned in his court, granted them bail with a bond of N50,000.

Another Magistrate, Njideka Duru, also granted bail to 35 accused persons brought before the court with the same amount as bail bond.

The other two courts however gave higher amounts as bond for the bail.

The third magistrate, Musa Jibo, granted the 35 accused persons before his court bail with a bond of N200,000.

Another magistrate, Elisabeth Jones-Wonie, granted 30 accused persons bail, with a bond of N500,000 each. The court however ordered that the defendants collectively produce three sureties in like sum.

The leader of the IMN, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, has been in prison since December 2015.

Mr El-Zakzaky was arrested after a clash of Shiite members with Nigerian soldiers over right of way in Zaria, Kaduna State. The army massacred over 300 Shiites in that 2015 onslaught that has been condemned by local and international rights groups.


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