Hundreds of Shiite IMN members on Saturday held a protest march in Kaduna to demand the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
The protest by the Shiites occurred despite a ban on processions and rallies by the Kaduna State Government and the police. The government, which had earlier outlawed the IMN declaring it an insurgent group, said the ban was necessary to maintain peace and order in the state.
On Saturday, the protesters marched through the popular Ahmadu Bello area, causing heavy traffic for road users. They sang in Hausa and English calling on the federal government to release Mr. El-Zakzaky who has been in detention without trial since December 2015.
The cleric was detained after over 300 members of the IMN were killed by soldiers who accused them of blocking the road and plotting to kill the army chief, Tukur Buratai. The IMN denied the army’s claims.
A court in Abuja has since ordered the release of Mr. El-Zakzaky and his wife and ordered payment of compensation to them.
As the protesters marched on Saturday, Kaduna residents asked the state government to ensure it does not turn violent especially during this Christmas period.
“I wanted to run away when I heard them coming but all that happened to me was I lost some of my money,” a Kaduna resident, Habiba Sale, said. “I beg (Governor) El-Rufai to please give people maximum security during this Christmas,” she said.
Mr. El-Rufai has assured Kaduna residents of adequate security saying all security agencies were working together to ensure peace during the yuletide.