PDP, Falana flay FG as po­lice shoot at Shi­ite pro­test­ers, ar­rest 115

Shittes in­jured 22 po­lice­men –PPRO

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SCORES of mem­bers of the Is­lamic Move­ment in Nige­ria were in­jured on Mon­day in Abuja dur­ing a clash with po­lice­men at the Maitama area of the city.

It was gath­ered that the po­lice ar­rested about 115 Shi­ite mem­bers who were protest­ing against the con­tin­ued in­car­cer­a­tion of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-za­kyzaky, by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

The pro­test­ers had moved to the Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion when the po­lice swooped on them and fired tear gas can­is­ters at them to break up the protest.

The Shi­ite mem­bers in turn, threw stones at the po­lice­men, dam­ag­ing many parked ve­hi­cles and in­jur­ing passersby and mo­torists.

Their ac­tion in­fu­ri­ated the cops who re­sponded with live bul­lets, some of which hit the Nige­rian Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion build­ing and other of­fices in the vicin­ity.

The se­cu­rity per­son­nel also scalded the mob with hot wa­ter from their can­non truck.

The de­vel­op­ment paral­ysed com­mer­cial ac­tiv­i­ties in the area as ev­ery­one fled while ve­hi­cles avoided the neigh­bour­hood.

The po­lice had last Fri­day cor­doned off the Unity Foun­tain where the Shi­ite mem­bers usu­ally hold their ral­lies.

They also ar­rested an ac­tivist and con­vener, Con­cerned Cit­i­zens, Deji Adeyanju, who had been cham­pi­oning the protests for over seven weeks.

The ac­tivist was also said to have been de­tained at the po­lice com­mand shortly af­ter the clash be­tween the po­lice and the Shi­ite mem­bers on Mon­day.

A mem­ber of the IMN, Mo­hammed Ga­mawa, ac­cused the po­lice of fir­ing live bul­lets at the pro­test­ers. He said many of the in­jured were taken to the Spe­cial Anti-rob­bery Squad of­fice.

Ga­mawa said, “As I am talk­ing to you, I’m at a hos­pi­tal in Gwarimpa, re­ceiv­ing treat­ment for tear gas in­hala­tion. We have about 115 mem­bers that were taken away, some of them with bul­let in­juries.”

“When they take them to SARS of­fice, they would not treat them and so far, six of our mem­bers have been left to bleed to death from gun­shot in­juries since we com­menced our daily protests about 80 days ago.”

When asked about the dam­age to some cars by his mem­bers, Ga­mawa de­nied that Shi­ite mem­bers did the dam­age, not­ing that the po­lice might have hired thugs to van­dalise the cars.

“Our mem­bers were not in­volved in van­dal­is­ing the ve­hi­cles; there is prob­a­bil­ity that the po­lice hired some thugs to do that. It is not in our char­ac­ter. Last Fri­day, they fired tear gas can­is­ters at my car in or­der to burn it. They would have told the world that we set the car on fire, but it was my car they fired at,” he said.

Also, the group in a state­ment said the po­lice were out to por­tray the move­ment as vi­o­lent in na­ture, adding that it would not re­lent on its peace­ful protest un­til El-zakzaky was re­leased from de­ten­tion.

The state­ment signed by the IMN’S spokesman, Ibrahim Musa, said what hap­pened was a show of shame.

The state­ment read in part, “What hap­pened to­day in Abuja was purely a show of shame by the po­lice, who are hell-bent on forcibly stop­ping our le­git­i­mate cam­paign for the gov­ern­ment to obey the or­ders of its courts by freeing Sheikh Zakzaky.

“This is a le­git­i­mate strug­gle. We have a right to protest and as­sem­ble peace­fully. This we have done in Abuja and all other places peace­fully for al­most two and half years now. We have stepped up the cam­paign in Abuja since the last 100 days (and it is note­wor­thy that it had been peace­ful) with daily protest at the unity foun­tain and pro­ces­sions.

“Last week, the au­thor­i­ties used com­bat ready po­lice­men to forcibly stop the rotest. They also ar­bi­trar­ily ar­rested Deji, one of the con­ven­ers of the protest. He was clearly told that ‘the gov­ern­ment is un­com­fort­able with the free Zakzaky cam­paign’ go­ing on in Abuja. He was told to stop it.

“Clearly, they have been look­ing for ways to in­fil­trate the protest and give it a sem­blance of riot so that they could use that as an ex­cuse.

“We are the vic­tims. No amount of cheap black­mail will make us to suc­cumb. Our protest has al­ways been peace­ful and we have proved this to the world be­yond any rea­son­able doubt, even in the face of ex­treme provo­ca­tion.”

Shittes in­jured 22 po­lice­men

–PPRO

The Fed­eral Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory po­lice spokesman, An­juguri Man­zah, said the pro­test­ers de­stroyed po­lice ve­hi­cles and in­jured 22 po­lice­men.

He added that the 115 Shi­ite mem­bers that were ar­rested would be taken to court.

He ex­plained that the ri­ot­ers at­tacked res­i­dents and smashed ve­hi­cle wind­screens, not­ing that the po­lice re­cov­ered cat­a­pults, iron bars, stones, ball bear­ings and pink head­bands from them.

“The FCT Po­lice Com­mand hereby warns mem­bers of Shi­ite move­ment against fur­ther dis­rupt­ing the peace, har­mony and free flow of traf­fic in FCT. Any­one caught in the act of vi­o­lent demon­stra­tion or any act ca­pa­ble of caus­ing the breach of pub­lic peace will be made to face the wrath of the law,” Man­zah said in a state­ment.

PDP calls for in­quest

The Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party on Mon­day de­manded an “im­me­di­ate in­quest” into the vi­o­lent clash be­tween se­cu­rity forces and mem­bers of the Shi­ite move­ment.

The party, in a state­ment by its Na­tional Pub­lic­ity Sec­re­tary, Mr Kola Olog­bondiyan, in Abuja said it was gravely wor­ried over the han­dling of se­cu­rity in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal and the near break­down of law and or­der which it said re­sulted in a stam­pede and dis­rup­tion of pub­lic and pri­vate busi­ness in the city cen­tre.

He said, “The PDP has noted that the de­vel­op­ment is linked with protests over the con­tin­ued re­fusal of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to re­lease the leader of the group, Sheik Ibrahim El-zakzaky, de­spite be­ing granted bail by courts of com­pe­tent ju­ris­dic­tion.

“The party fur­ther notes the con­tin­ued show of force and in­fringe­ments on the rights of cit­i­zens by this ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“Fur­ther­more, the PDP and in­deed all lovers of democ­racy across the coun­try are deeply con­cerned by the con­tin­ued ero­sion of demo­cratic tenets by the All Pro­gres­sives Congress ad­min­is­tra­tion, re­sult­ing in avoid­able cri­sis in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try.

“The PDP sues for calm while de­mand­ing an im­me­di­ate in­quest into the cause of this clash.”

Falana flays at­tack

Hu­man rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), con­demned the at­tack on Shi’ites.

Falana was the de­tainees’ lawyer who on De­cem­ber 2, 2016, ob­tained the judg­ment of the Fed­eral High Court in Abuja, or­der­ing some mem­bers’ re­lease from the cus­tody of the State Se­cu­rity Ser­vice.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has yet to com­ply with the judg­ment.

Falana de­clared on Mon­day that the de­tainees must be re­leased in com­pli­ance with the or­der of the Fed­eral High Court if the gov­ern­ment was “gen­uinely de­sirous” of stop­ping the protest.

He said the “vi­o­lent at­tack in which some of the pro­test­ers were killed and in­jured by se­cu­rity forces is bar­baric.”

He said the at­tack, which he de­scribed as “to­tally un­ac­cept­able,” was staged “in a des­per­ate bid to stop the Shi­ites from fur­ther ex­pos­ing the law­less­ness of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment”.

He main­tained that the se­cu­rity forces had “breached the fun­da­men­tal rights of the pro­test­ers to life, free­dom from tor­ture, free­dom of assem­bly and free­dom of ex­pres­sion.”

He said, “The vi­o­lent at­tack un­leashed on the Shi­ites this af­ter­noon by a com­bined team of armed sol­diers, po­lice and state se­cu­rity ser­vice per­son­nel is to­tally un­ac­cept­able in a demo­cratic so­ci­ety.

“It is highly con­demnable as it was un­called for.

“In or­der to press for the re­lease of their de­tained leader, Sheikh Ibra­heem El-zakzaky, and his wife, the Shi­ites have staged peace­ful protests in Abuja since last week.

“This morn­ing, se­cu­rity forces at­tacked the peace­ful rally, killed some of the pro­test­ers and in­jured oth­ers in a bar­baric at­tack in a des­per­ate bid to stop the Shi­ites from fur­ther ex­pos­ing the law­less­ness of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

“In the process, the se­cu­rity forces breached the fun­da­men­tal rights of the pro­test­ers to life, free­dom from tor­ture, free­dom of assem­bly and free­dom of ex­pres­sion.

“The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has not ad­duced any jus­ti­fi­able rea­son why it has con­tin­ued to in­car­cer­ate the Elza­kza­kys in ut­ter con­tempt of the Fed­eral High Court.”

The Nige­ria In­ter­ven­tion Move­ment also crit­i­cized the Buhari-led Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment for the ha­rass­ment of Shi’ites in Abuja.

The NIM, which is headed by a for­mer Pres­i­dent of the Nige­rian Bar As­so­ci­a­tion, Dr. Olisa Ag­bakoba (SAN), and a for­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Dr. Ab­du­jalil Tafawa­balewa, said it would hold a rally in sol­i­dar­ity with them.

The move­ment said this in a state­ment by its Deputy-di­rec­tor Gen­eral, Mal­lam Nasser Kura, adding that trig­ger-happy po­lice­men must be ar­rested.

The state­ment read in part, “We hereby de­mand that in­dicted trig­ger happy po­lice op­er­a­tives in­volved in this un­for­tu­nate cru­elty and crim­i­nal­ity be im­me­di­ately brought to book and with­drawn from fur­ther con­fronting the peace­ful protest of the Shi’ites move­ment.”

The NIM also de­manded an apol­ogy and com­pen­sa­tion for Shi’ite mem­bers.

• Scenes of the protest by mem­bers of the Is­lamic Move­ment in Nige­ria over the de­ten­tion of their leader, Ibrahim El-za­kyzaky in Abuja ... on Mon­day. Pho­tos: Olatunji Obasa

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