MEMBERS of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, Shiite sect on Tuesday stormed the National Assembly premises, clashing with police officers and other security operatives with the number of casualties yet to be officially ascertained.
The members of the sect who were demanding the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, succeeded in gaining entry into the complex before allegedly disarming a policeman and used his gun to shoot two others.
The protesting members also damaged some vehicles including a police van in the complex, injuring a policeman in the process.
Manza Anjuluri, Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Police Police Public Relations Officer in a statement stated that officers of the police force had put the rising tension under control.
“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.”
“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 members of the sect have been arrested in connection with the violent protest while investigation is in progress,” he stated.
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 condemned by local and international rights groups.
Since the December 2015 incident, 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 have often accused the Shiites of instigating violence by using various weapons including petrol bombs, allegations the Shiites have denied.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.