Abuja Violence: Shiites confirm protest, say 30 members missing

Shiites protesters being arrested by the Nigeria Police (Photo Credit: @uche_ezeonye on Twitter)
Shiites protesters being arrested by the Nigeria Police (Photo Credit: @uche_ezeonye on Twitter)

Members of the Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria, (IMN) have confirmed they held Tuesday’s protest at the Wuse Ultra-Modern Market in Abuja.

The group also says 30 of its members were missing after a previous protest at the Central Business District in Abuja on Monday.

The Shiites began a second day of protest at the market, Tuesday afternoon, to challenge the continued detention of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, for whose release they had protested on Monday.

Mr. El-Zakzaky was arrested shortly after a clash between Shiite members and the Nigerian Army in December 2015 and has neither been released nor arraigned by the Nigerian government, despite court orders for his release.

A similar protest on Monday by the group resulted in a clash with officials of the Nigerian police, with the police confirming the arrest of 115 Shiite members.

Although the Police denied any casualties during Monday’s protest, a leader of the group, Abdullahi Musa, said a member was shot in the head, resulting in a serious brain injury on Monday. He added that the affected Shiite member was rushed to Kano for further treatment.

“One of us was shot in the head yesterday. His brain came out. He is currently being rushed to the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital for further treatment.

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“The police said they arrested 115 of our members, but 145 of us were the number that got missing; and I saw a van with my eyes that carried some people from among us, who looked dead, the way they were being carried. I saw them with my eyes,” said Mr. Abdullahi.

“30 of our members, now are yet to be accounted for,” he added.

Mr. Musa further said that although he cannot tell how many members were arrested on Tuesday, three trucks of IMN members were taken away by police officers at the Wuse Ultra-modern market, Abuja.

“I saw them take three truck load of our members today. They however did not use life ammunition today, except sticks and teargas. I myself was badly beaten with sticks by the police,” Mr. Abdullahi said.

Other eyewitnesses who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES said they ran into hiding when they saw the protest begin and the police came using teargas.

The spokesperson for the FCT Police Command, Manzah Anjuguri, declined commenting on the matter when called by PREMIUM TIMES. Mr. Anjuguri said he was not immediately able to give any statement on the matter.

“I am not at the office at the moment. So I am not aware of the development,” Mr Anjuguri told our reporter on phone. He also refused committing himself, when asked to give a feasible time for any update on the matter.

Subsequent calls for updates were not attended to by Mr. Anjuguri.

An Abuja Division of the Federal High Court had in December 2016 ordered the immediate release of Mr. El-Zakzaky and warned the Nigerian government to desist from demonising members of the group.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole also gave a 45-day ultimatum to the government to comply with the court order, which included the award of N50 million in damages for detaining the plaintiff and his wife without trial.

The federal government failed to comply with that court order; but filed an appeal, days after the expiration of the 45-day ultimatum given by the trial court.

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