THE Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) says at least 20 of its members have been killed this week, after their violent clash with security operatives.
Quoting an unnamed spokesperson of the organisation, Reuters said the death toll may be as high as 25.
Though the police with whom the Shiite members clashed in the nation’s capital have yet to release any figure of the casualties, the group feared its injured members in police custody may have also died.
“More might die in police custody, because there are at least 15 people who are in the detention center with various degrees of bullet wounds, without medication,” one said
Police did not respond to repeated attempts to reach them for comment.
The Shiites are protesting in Abuja to press for the release of their leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky, who has been in detention since 2015 despite a court order to release him.
Monday’s protest led to the death of a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Usman Umar and a journalist with the Channels Television, Precious Owolabi.
Commercial activities were also paralysed on Tuesday in Abuja after the Shiites continued with their protest, again, engaging the police.
Nigerian police met the protests with gunfire and tear gas.
Most of the people killed after security forces opened fire on the group on Monday, with four others having since died in police custody from their bullet wounds, the spokesmen said.
Following security reports that the IMN members planned to stage protests across Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Katsina, Abuja, Bauchi and Gombe on Friday, police said they had bolstered security across the country describing the protests as violent and unruly.
They “advised all would-be protesters to ensure they express their grievances within the ambit of the law,” according to the statement.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammad Adamu in the statement assured citizens that proactive measures including aerial surveillance of major cities have been put in place to ensure the safety and security of lives and property of all Nigerians
Zakzaky has been held in detention since December 2015, when the army killed roughly 350 of his followers at his compound and a nearby mosque and burial ground in northern Kaduna state.
He faces trial on charges of murder, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, disruption of public peace and other offences following the 2015 violence. He has pleaded not guilty.