Tension In Abuja As Shiites Vow To Continue Protest Today

There are strong indications of another clash between security operatives and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on Thursday (today).

This followed a vow by the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to end the protests even as members of the sect declared that they would continue with their protests at the expense of their lives and until their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, was released.

The IGP made the declaration to crush Shiite protest on Wednesday.

Idris made the declaration in an interview with State House correspondents shortly after joining others to witness the inauguration of the 2019 Armed Forces Day Emblem at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

“We have made some major deployments and all l can say is that we want to appeal to everybody to cooperate with us to end these crises and by the Grace of God, we will bring the protests to an end,” the police boss said.

Asked why security agents resorted to the use of maximum force against the protests, Idris said, “The agents were responding to the threats against security of lives and property within the FCT. It is our responsibilities to take care of security.”

The IGP had earlier in the day given an indication that about 400 members of the group who were arrested on Tuesday would appear in court on Wednesday (today).

“You know that when we make arrests, the next thing is to take them before the law courts.

“We are going to take them before the law court today (Wednesday). This could be the Magistrates’ Court or Federal High Court,” he said.

Idris also said the Federal Government was not ruling out dialogue with stakeholders as one of the ways of ending the protests.

“We are liaising with major stakeholders, major religious groups in this country.

“I think we need to do something to end these crises as soon as possible and by the grace of God, we will end the crises soon,” he added.

The police boss also said other security challenges being experienced in parts of the FCT were being tackled head-on.

He said black spots in Abuja were being monitored by his men with a view to flushing out criminals from their hideouts.

He said the police would work hard to ensure that the 2019 General Elections were conducted peacefully.

He appealed to Nigerians to cooperate with security agencies to achieve the feat.

But in restating their resolve to continue with the protest, members of the sect said as long as it would take to release their leader, Shiekh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, their protest would continue.

The spokesman for the group, Mallam Abdullahi Musa, made the position of the group known in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, on Wednesday.

Musa spoke after the sect released the corpses of 24 of their slain colleagues to members of their families.

The ceremony was held in Ruga neighbourhood in the Mararaba area of Nasarawa State on Wednesday.

A correspondents who was at the event observed the 24 corpses of the slain sect members wrapped with white clothes and laid beside one another horizontally while family members were allowed to identify their relations before they were taken for burial.

Spokesperson for the IMN, Mallam Abdullahi Musa, in an interview with The Punch, said the corpses were recovered from the scene of the clash with the military at the Kugbo/Karu checkpoint on Monday, alleging that the corpses of 12 other deceased were still with the army.

Musa, who confirmed that the sect held another protest in the Wuse area of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on Wednesday, said the protests to demand the release of the sect’s leader, Shiehk Ibraheem Elzakzaky, would continue until the military “kills all of us.”

He said, “Now, we have finished our findings. We have 24 dead bodies here with us. As I speak to you, there are 21 bodies before me. We are going to bury them. And we found that the army dumped three corpses at the University Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada to make 24 corpses. They also dumped nine corpses in the Asokoro and Maitama areas of Abuja.

“This was from the Monday clash. On Tuesday, the army and the police also killed six persons. We have two corpses with us and they went away with four corpses. Between Saturday and Tuesday, more than 40 persons have been killed by the Guards Brigade of the Nigerian Army. And this brigade is answerable only to the President of Nigeria.

“We have information that the brigade has received orders to shoot at us any time we come out. The President cannot claim ignorance of this killing; we are killed just because we are protesting the illegal detention of our leader. We are carrying out our religious obligations.”

He added, “There is no amount of killings that will stop us. This is our belief. One thing about these killings is that the President is aware of them.

“I heard that the police said they arrested 400 of us. But from Tuesday, about 1000 of us are actually missing. Since they said they had only 400 with them, where are the remaining 600 people? Some of the corpses have their family members here already who are here to carry them home.”

“One of the corpses was a 22-year-old Suleiman Abubakar from Sokoto State, who was shot dead on Monday during the clash.”

His elder sister, Hibbat, told The Punch that Abubakar just concluded his secondary school education in Kaduna State and was processing his admission to the university.

She said, “He was killed on Monday. We are about to collect his body for burial. We need justice and we are fighting for justice. See what Nigerian Army has done to us. He just finished his secondary school and he was trying to further his studies to a university. We are from Sokoto but we live in Kaduna State.”