The police in Abuja on Wednesday dispersed protesting members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria otherwise known as Shi’ites with tear gas and arrested 52 of them at Area 3, Garki.
The force explained that the Shi’ite members attacked citizens including police operatives, adding that some improvised petrol bombs, stones and catapults were recovered from them.
The Federal Capital Territory Police spokesman, Anjuguri Manzah, said in a statement that the protesters, who were demanding the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-ZakyZaky, also damaged police patrol vans.
He explained that the action of the Shi’ite members was unlawful and constituted a serious security threat to the peace of the FCT, noting that the police would never condone such unruly acts.
Manzah said, “Following the violent protest by the members of the El-Zakzaky Islamic Movement in Nigeria, the group who went on rampage and were attacking innocent citizens including police operatives, the FCT police command has arrested some members of the sect and recovered some bottles of improvised petrol bomb, stones and catapult used by members of the sect to attack police operatives and damage police operational vehicles.
“The 52 members of the El-Zakzaky group arrested by the police operatives during the violent protest that left some policemen with injuries, will be charged to court upon the conclusion of investigation,” he added.
The force stated that it recognised the rights of citizens to express their lawful grievances, but added that it would not fold its arms and allow some individuals hold the city to ransom by disrupting government and legitimate business activities.
Before the protest was disrupted by the police operatives who fired tear gas canisters, the Shi’ite members had engaged the operatives by throwing stones at them.
The incident caused pandemonium in the area as traders in nearby shopping malls hurriedly closed their shops, while motorists looked for alternative routes to escape the confusion.
Policemen were observed going from street to street in search of the fleeing protesters.
But in Kaduna on Wednesday, members of the IMN raised the alarm that the health condition of their detained leader, El-Zakzaky, had deteriorated.
Zakzaky had since the December 15, 2015 clash between the Islamic sect and the Nigerian Army been in the custody of the Department of State Services.
Addressing newsmen at a press conference in Kaduna on Wednesday, the Chairman of the Resource Forum of the IMN, Prof. Abdullahi Danladi, said the Shi’ite leader needed an urgent medical attention to stay alive.
Danladi also hinted that three years after the bloody clash with the Nigerian Army, some of the bullets lodged in the body of El-Zakzaky’s wife, Zeena, had not been extracted.
According to him, the Shi’ite feared that El-Zakzaky might died in detention as a result of his deteriorating health status.
He said, “Following a rare visit to our leader, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, it was discovered that his health situation had taken a nosedive for the worse.
“He had suffered what turned out to be a stroke but the authorities illegally detaining him had kept a blind eye to his dire situation.
“It emerged that his health condition suffered severe knocks in the past week, such that he was critically ill and was in urgent need of the best medical attention possible but the Buhari administration is negligent about it.
“He suffered slurred speech, weakness of the right side of the upper limb and general weakness of both lower limbs and consequently has been unable to walk or even stand for the past one week. The Sheikh is also known to be hypertensive for more than 10 years.”
The group called on President Muhammadu Buhari to release the couple, noting that “we have started a series of peaceful protests across the country, to demand the immediate and unconditional release of our leader to enable him to get the proper medical attention he desires.”