Suspected members of the Shiite group, IMN, have shot some police officers on duty at the National Assembly.
The incident created pandemonium within and around the assembly complex.
A PREMIUM TIMES reporter watched as one of the police officers was rushed to the National Assembly clinic around 1.55p.m.
Some witnesses said two officers were shot while others said three officers were shot.
Several witnesses, who recounted the face-off, said the incident occurred when the protesters tried to force their way into the assembly complex.
“They shot three policemen. One of them even appears dead already,” a witness told PREMIUM TIMES.
As at the time of filing this report, police officers have locked the entrance of the National Assembly as sounds of gunshots rented the air.
The protesters are demanding the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
Mr El-Zakzaky has been arrested since December 2015 after soldiers clamped down on his supporters and killed at least 347 of them. The soldiers accused the Shiite group of blocking a major road that was to be used by army chief Tukur Buratai.
That massacre of the Shiites has been condemend by local and international rights groups.
Since the December 2015 incident, Mr El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenah have been in detention; first without trial for about a year. They were eventually charged with murder for the death of a soldier during the December 2015 incident.
Dozens of other Shiite members have been killed in different protests mainly in Abuja and Kaduna since the December 2015 incident.
The security agencies often accuse the Shiites of instigating the violence by using various weapons including petrol bombs; allegations the Shiites have denied.
The police on Tuesday said two of its officers were shot by suspected members of the Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN).
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the protest by the Shiites at the National Assembly turned violent. Witnesses had said at least two of the police officers guarding the assembly complex were shot.
The Shiites demand the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who has been detained by the government since December 2015. Over 340 Shiites were killed by the army in December 2015 after the army accused the Islamic sect of blocking a road.
On Tuesday, Anjuguri Manzah, the Abuja police spokesperson, said 40 Shiite protesters were arrested.
“The FCT Police Command has foiled a violent move by members of the El-Zakzakky Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) to forcefully invade the National Assembly on Tuesday, 10th July 2019,” the spokesperson said.
Read Mr Manzah’s full statement below.
Police Nab Shiite Members over Attempted Invasion of National Assembly
The FCT Police Command has foiled a violent move by members of the El-Zakzakky Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) to forcefully invade the National Assembly on Tuesday, 10th July, 2019.
The group which started its activity, camouflaged in a peaceful procession became violent and were trying to force their way into the National Assembly. Police operatives on the ground, however, acted proactively, professionally and used minimum force to disperse the unruly protesters.
Members of the sect during the violent protest shot two (2) police personnel on the leg, while clubs and stones were used to inflict injuries on six other policemen. The injured policemen have been taken to the hospital for prompt medical attention.
Meanwhile, forty (40) members of the sect have been arrested in connection with the violent protest. Investigation is in progress.
In view of the foregoing, the Command wishes to state unequivocally that while it recognizes and respects the right of citizens to peaceful procession, an attempt by any individual or group of persons to cause the breakdown of law and order will not be tolerated. Those arrested in the process will be dealt with in accordance with the appropriate law of the land.
Members of the public are enjoined to go on with their lawful activities as normalcy has been restored, and adequate security measures have been emplaced by the Command to forestall any security breach.