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    Gunshots in Abuja as Shi’ites, police clash at Fed secretariat


    Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) again clashed with the police at the Federal secretariat in Abuja, the nation’s capital, on Thursday.

    The police fired gunshots and tear gas to disperse the protesters while five Shi’ite members were apprehended by the security operatives.

    The clash sparked panic as anxious workers, commuters and motorists fled the area in fear.

    The sect members later regrouped at another location to continue with their protest.

    They stormed the National Assembly complex last Tuesday, shot two policemen and damaged many vehicles and property.

    It was learnt that four suspects were arrested in connection with the incident.

    IMN spokesman Abdullahi Musa told The Nation that the Monday protest, despite the development, would continue.

    Musa said killing or arresting members of the group would not stop them from protesting until their leader is freed.

    He said: “The police arrested so many people. These arrests will never stop us from protesting; killing can never stop us from protesting. Next Monday, we shall continue with the protest. We shall use Friday to pray.

    “Government should free our leader, following the court ruling. Government should obey the court order. Government has no reason for keeping him in custody. The fact that he is seriously sick now shows that they want him dead.”

    Also, members of the sect on Thursday staged a peaceful protest in Lagos.

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    They demanded the immediate release of their leader from custody.

    The protest, which started at 10:40 a.m at Maryland, terminated at the Adekunle Fajuyi, Ikeja GRA, office of activist lawyer Femi Falana (SAN).

    El-Zakzaky has been held in alleged solitary confinement at the Department of State Services (DSS) detention facility since December 2015, despite several court orders demanding his release.

    He was charged in April, last year, with murder, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly and disruption of public peace, following a bloody clash between Shi’ites and soldiers in the entourage of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai at Zaira, Kaduna State.

    There have been concerns by IMN (Shi’ites) within and outside the country as well as civil rights organisations about the continuous detention of the Shi’ite leader and security implications arising from government action.

    The continuous detention of the vocal sect leader with cult followership had led to bad blood and bloody encounters between security forces and his members in Abuja and Kaduna State.

    Marching through Ladipo and Obateye Streets as well as Oduduwa Crescent, the IMN protesters adorned yellow headbands.

    They also painted “Release El-Zakzaky” and “El-Zakzaky has been poisoned” on the fences and walls of the houses they marched past.

    They had banners with similar inscriptions on them.

    Police spokesman Bala Elkana, a Deputy Superintendent (DSP), who confirmed the protest, described it as peaceful.

     

     

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