Nigerians react to death of journalist, others killed in Shiites/police clash

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)

Nigerians are mourning the death of Precious Owolabi, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member hit by a stray bullet during a Shiites protest on Monday

Mr Owolabi, who worked with Channels Television, was rushed to the hospital but died on Monday evening. The deceased was among the TV’s crew covering the protests.

The protests by members of Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) was borne out of agitations for the release of Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, a foremost Nigerian Shiite cleric who was taken into custody four years ago.

The demonstration on Monday, however, ended with casualties, including the death of a deputy police commissioner. The IMN said 11 of its members were killed during the violence.


Many Nigerians have expressed grief over the death of the young journalist and others.

A former presidential candidate, Kingsley Moghalu, tweeted:

My condolences to the family of Precious Owolabi, the @channelstv reporter and @NaijaCorpers shot dead today during a Shiite-police clash in Abuja. President @MBuhari should act fast to “cool temper” all around. Nigeria is on the brink! My condolences too to DCP Umar’s family.

Another ex-presidential candidate, Fela Durotoye, in a tweet, decried the porous state of security in the country.

I’m deeply saddened by the loss of life due to the #Shiites protest in Abuja. Innocent Nigerians are becoming collateral damage
Nothing is greater than the safety and security of the Nigerian people. Can we just dialogue?

Lere Olayinka, a former media aide of former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, attributed the death to President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘vindictiveness’.

“Precious Owolabi came to Channels TV as a Youth Corper to serve his fatherland.

“He was killed today due to the wickedness and vindictiveness of a certain Buhari.

“May his soul rest in peace.”

Other Nigerians

Babasola Kuti @realsolakuti tweeted:

“Precious Owolabi the Youth Corper serving with channels TV who was shot has died. Another innocent young life cut short by Muhammadu Buhari. A man who thrives on the shedding of the blood of young Nigerians. We remember Bauchi 2011.

“Ijeoma Onyeator actually wept on live TV.”

Dipole Awojide @OgbeniDipo

“May the soul of Precious Owolabi rest in peace. May God console his family and comfort his friends. That could have been anyone, including any of our family members or friends who work around the 3 arms zone and environs in Abuja. Such a needless death. Resolve this madness now.”

Ivana @Ivielvana
“Precious Owolabi, the @channelstv correspondent shot during Shi’ite clash with the Nigerian police earlier today, has sadly passed on. He was a you g youth corper. May his soul Rest in Peace. The government needs to sort out this mess before it escalates further #shia #Nigeria”

Damilare Okunola @onakanowoja wrote:

“President @MBuhari, Nigeria is getting really unbearable to live in. See how people are getting killed on a daily basis. What kind of leader keeps quiet while his people get killed ALWAYS? We DO NOT WANT condolence press release, DO SOMETHING! We are ANGRY! Precious Owolabi 😭😩”

Adelowo Oguntola @AdelowoOguntola wrote:

“The Channels TV Reporter, Precious Owolabi, who was hit by stray bullet while covering the Shi’ites protest, is dead. May the soul of the deceased rest in peace.

“The only reaction from the Presidency will be the usual rite – sending of condolence message.”


Sunday Oguntola @sunday_oguntola wrote:

“Deepest condolences to @channelstv on the death of Precious Owolabi during the protest by Shi’ites today in Abuja. Journalists are always endangered species. People have no idea what we go through to get news for their consumption.”

Shiite Demand

The Shiite leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who has been in detention for alleged murder since December 2015, was taken into custody with his wife after soldiers massacred hundreds of his followers in Zaria, Kaduna State, between December 12 and 15.

Mr El-Zakzaky’s children were said to be amongst those killed.

A judicial panel set up by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, found the military culpable in the massacre, recommending a major-general for trial.

The Nigerian Army denied culpability in the massacre, which President Buhari defended during a media chat on December 30, 2015.

Mr Buhari said it was wrong for the protesters to have blocked a road the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, was travelling on.

No soldier has been arraigned over the matter.

The International Criminal Court is currently investigating the massacre — which has an official estimate of 347 deaths. Shiite leaders insist over 1,000 members were killed by Nigerian soldiers.

Since then, dozens of Shiites have been killed by security operatives in protests in Abuja and Kaduna. Many police officers have also been injured with at least one killed. The police accused the Shiites of engaging in violent protests, a charge the Shiites denied.

Rights groups call for investigation

Meanwhile, Amnesty International and Committee to Protect Journalists in Africa (CPJ) have called on the federal government to commence an investigation into the Monday shootings.

In a statement signed by its media manager, Isa Sanusi, the organisation called on the police to always exercise restraint.

“The Nigerian govt must promptly investigate in an independent and impartial manner the police shootings and bring to justice all those suspected of criminal responsibility in fair trials. The police must exercise restraint at all times and use force only when strictly necessary,” the statement read in part.

Also, CPJ Africa tweeted:

“#Nigeria: @pressfreedom is saddened to learn that @channelstv journalist Precious Owolabi has died after being shot earlier today (July 22).

“Nigerian authorities should investigate and ensure those responsible for his death are held accountable.”

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