How our NASS protest turned violent – Shiite spokesperson

Nigerian Police on patrol
Nigerian Police

The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) has denied being responsible for the face-off that led to the hospitalisation of two police officers at the National Assembly on Tuesday.

In a statement signed by Abdullahi Musa, a leader of the group’s Academic Forum, IMN said the injured officers were attacked by their colleagues.

“After they had committed these atrocities, the police preposterously claimed that the protesters confiscated a gun from police and shot the officer. This is incongruous with reason and conclusive evidence at hand; nay it is even inviting serious ridicule. How on earth could a protester, known to be unarmed and defenceless, have sequestered a gun and fired it?

“But, considering the narration of a former Abuja police commissioner, Sadiq Bello, that the police had their men put in free-Zakzaky protesters, it is quite obvious that that police set up for use were the ones who caused the inflictions at the National Assembly and elsewhere today,” the statement reads.

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.

The Wednesday statement said the protesters marched to the National Assembly following an earlier meeting with a lawmaker.

“Last week Thursday, we were at the National Assembly Complex where one of the members of the House of Representatives, Honourable Ado Doguwa, addressed us; and he promised to call back with a new development before we got to our various destinations. Unfortunately, over one hundred and forty eight hours now gone, and no response, neither from him nor from any other person amongst his colleagues.

“What happened today at the National Assembly Complex was unbecoming of the Nigeria Police, though they had done worst. The police fired live ammunition and killed two of Sheikh Zakazaky’s followers, Mahmud Umar Sakafa and Ja’far Mika’il, and many were seriously injured. It is, however, sad that the bullets they used also affected some of their men. The police ought to know that all we are saying is: Buhari should allow Sheikh Zakzaky to attend to his health.”

Police lying – Musa

Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday afternoon, Mr Musa said the figure of arrested IMN members given by the police is far from reality.

“The police said they arrested 40, but we realised that more than 100 of our people were missing,” referring to a statement released by police late Tuesday.

He added that up to 50 members of the group were injured. Mr Musa recounted the Tuesday incident to PREMIUM TIMES.

“We went to the National Assembly, upon reaching there, police tried to disperse. When they see that they couldn’t disperse us…We stood our ground protesting, chanting slogans ‘kill us today and see us tomorrow’ so they started tear-gassing us. Seeing that even the teargas was not efficient, they now resorted to live bullets. Instantly two people were shot.”

Police beef up security at NASS

Meanwhile, security at the National Assembly has been increased to forestall a reoccourence of Tuesday’s incident.

Early on Wednesday morning, police officers and their counterparts from NSCDC were stationed strategically around the assembly complex.

Dozens of these officers were seen guarding the main entrance of the National Assembly.

A little away from what obtained before, the officers asked all persons entering the assembly to identify themselves and turned back those who could not do so satisfactorily.

Also guarding the assembly are soldiers in two vans stationed around the gate.

The police in a statement on Tuesday said they were mounting a 24-hour surveillance on the Federal Capital Territory while investigating the fracas.

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