The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and the Police continued to flex mussels in Abuja over the group’s demand for the release of Shiite leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky. The group alleged that over 30 of their members have been missing.
Zakzaky has been in detention since December 2015.
The IMN leader has been in custody since soldiers clashed with his followers in Zaria, Kaduna State, in December 2015, despite court orders that he should be freed. More than 350 IMN followers were allegedly killed in the 2015 clashes. Zakzaky was shot and injured, leaving him partially paralyzed and blind in one eye.The Shi’ite leader has repeatedly been imprisoned for alleged incitement and subversion.
IMN has been in conflict with the Nigerian government for years, seeking to foment an Iranian-style Islamic revolution in the country’s Sunni Muslim-majority North. Zakzaky’s followers on Monday had clashed with the police in Abuja’s Maitama area and police made at least 115 arrests.
Meanwhile, IMN has confirmed it he today’s protest at the Wuse Ultra-Modern Market, Abuja. The group also claimed 30 of its members went missing after a previous protest at the Central Business District in Abuja on Monday. The police denied any casualties during Monday’s protest,
A member of the group said:“The police said they arrested 115 of our members, but 145 of us were the number that got missing and I saw a van that carried some people from among us who looked dead, the way they were being carried. I saw them with my eyes. Thirty of our members now are yet to be accounted for.”
Musa further said that although he could not tell how many members were arrested on Tuesday, three truckloads of IMN members were taken away by police at the Wuse Market.
“I saw them take three truckloads of our members today. They, however, did not use live ammunition today, except sticks and tear gas. I was badly beaten with sticks by the police,”
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has condemned the reaction of the police to the two-day Shi’ite protests.
In a statement signed by the director, Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, the organization said the crackdown on unarmed protesters put lives at risk.
In its statement yesterday, Amnesty International said the iron fist applied against the protesters was unnecessary.
“This was a needless resort to violence by Nigerian police against a group of unarmed protestors. The IMN members gathered in Abuja were perfectly within their rights in demanding the release of their leader from a detention described by a federal court as both unlawful and unconstitutional.
“Although there were reports that stones were thrown by some protestors, there is no excuse for the use of live bullets, water cannon, and tear gas. These were highly reckless tactics that could easily have resulted in fatalities. Nigerian authorities must adhere to the rule of law and respect the right to peaceful protest when policing these events,” Amnesty said.
It also described the arrest of 115 protesters as a worrying sign of repression of the IMN.