Nigerian journalist shot dead while covering Shiites protest

One of the outpost belonging to NEMA set ablaze by Shiite members
One of the outpost belonging to NEMA set ablaze by Shiite members [Photo: Channels TV]

Precious Owolabi, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, serving with Channels Television has been confirmed dead.

He was hit by a stray bullet while covering a protest by members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) that turned violent on Monday. He was a member of the TV station’s crew covering the protest.

Channels Television announced the death during its 10 p.m. news.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how a Shiite protest that turned violent on Monday was the major issue of discussion at a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.

At least 12 people, including a police officer, were reported killed and several injured when the protesters clashed with security officers.

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.

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The Shiite group, IMN, in a statement said 11 of its members were killed during the protest.

This newspaper also reported how the reporter was hit by a stray bullet.

The violence occurred close to the federal secretariat in the Nigerian capital.

Background

Monday’s incident came about two weeks after two Shiites were killed and two police officers were injured after a similar protest turned violent at the National Assembly.

The Shiites are demanding the release of their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, who have been in detention for alleged murder since December 2015.

Mr El-Zakzaky, was taken into custody with his wife after soldiers massacred hundreds of his followers in Zaria, Kaduna State, between December 12 and 15.

Mr El-Zakzaky’s children were said to be amongst those killed.

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A judicial panel set up by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, found the military culpable in the massacre, recommending a major-general for trial.

The Nigerian Army denied culpability in the massacre, which President Buhari defended during a media chat on December 30, 2015.

Mr Buhari said it was wrong for the protesters to have blocked a road the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, was travelling on.

No soldier has been arraigned over the matter.

The International Criminal Court is currently investigating the massacre — which has an official estimate of 347 deaths. Shiite leaders insist over 1,000 members were killed by Nigerian soldiers.

Other rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch also condemned the December 2015 massacre.

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