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Commercial activities disrupted as Shiites, policemen renew clash in Abuja

ON Tuesday clashes between members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, and policemen resumed when the protesting members of the Shi’ite sect who had embarked on another round of protest were dispersed by security operatives.

The protesters who proceeded from the popular Banex Plaza, Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse 2, were stopped when policemen fired several shots in an attempt to disperse the protesters.

Some of the Shi’ites were said to have fled into Banex complex where computers and tech gadgets are sold.

The policemen reportedly chased after them, while traders and bystanders ran into shops to avoid being caught in the crossfire.

The clash between the policemen and Shi’ites on Monday led to the death of a Channels Television reporter, Precious Owolabi, who was also a National Youth Service Corps member.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations at the FCT, Usman Umar, was also killed while more than three Shi’ite members lost their lives.

Members of IMN have been protesting the prolonged detention of their leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah who had been detained since November 2015.

President Muhammadu Buhari on his Twitter account commiserated with the bereaved families of the casualties.

“I most deeply commiserate with the families of Precious Owolabi, an NYSC member with Channels TV, and Deputy Commissioner of Police, Usman Umar, of the FCT Police Command, who died during the violent protest by members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) in Abuja yesterday.

“Condolences also to the management and staff of Channels TV, and the Police leadership, over the sad and regrettable loss. We salute their commitment to remaining steadfast and dedicated to their professional callings, even in this time of grief.

“I want to reassure residents of Abuja in particular and the country, in general, to go about their lawful activities without fear. The leadership of our security and law enforcement agencies are taking action to safeguard the nation against such mindless attacks,” he tweeted.

Human rights group, Committee to Protect Journalists in Africa, CPJ, has called on the federal government to commence an investigation into the Monday shooting, leading to the death of the Channels TV’s reporter.

In a statement signed by its media manager, Isa Sanusi, CPJ called on the police to always exercise restraint in carrying out their duties.

“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 reads.

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