Police on Monday sprayed hot water and fired tear gas sporadically to disperse protesting members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria at the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, office in Maitama, Abuja.
Hundreds of Shiites, mainly male and female, undergraduates from different institutions across the country, assembled at the NHRC office to urge the commission to facilitate the immediate release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, his wife and other detained members of the group.
In April, the group staged a nationwide protest to mark 500 days of Mr. El-Zakzaky’s detention by the government.
Mr. El-Zakzaky and his wife were arrested on December 14, 2015, following a bloody clash between members of his group and the Nigerian Army in Zaria, Kaduna State.
One of the organisers of Monday’s protest, Sanusi Abdulkadir, said heavily armed policemen stormed the rally and foiled the protest with teargas and hot water.
“Students, other members, friends and sympathizers of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria staged a peaceful protest march to the national human rights commission at Abuja to urge the commission to facilitate the unconditional release of the IMN leader, Sheik Zakzaky, his wife and many others members incarcerated in various detention centers,” he said.
“The Nigerian Police FCT command suddenly came and indiscriminately used teargas and hot water sprays to forcefully disperse the protesters. They harassed and intimidated the participants,” he said.
He said no one was arrested.
“The action of the police was unlawful and it infringes upon our constitutional rights. Hence we are going to take legal action on such incessant harassment and intimidation by the police,” Mr. Abdulkadir said.
Efforts to reach the police were not successful. Spokesperson Anjuguri Manzah told PREMIUM TIMES he could not comment as he was out of town. A police contact he referred the paper to did not respond to phone calls.