The FCT Police Command has arrested 115 members of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) following clashes between members of the group and the police in Abuja yesterday.
A member of the group was reportedly killed by stray bullet, as police tried to disperse the IMN members, who converged at the Unity Fountain, Maitama, Abuja where they sit-out to demand the release of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky.
Sources said the police wanted to disperse the protesters to avoid possible breakdown of law and order as the military chiefs, including the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, were holding an event at the nearby Transcorp Hilton Hotel.
Witnesses said the IMN members however resisted the move to disperse them, leading the police to use teargas on the protesters, who in turn resorted to throwing stones at the police and hitting an armoured personnel carrier with sticks.
Daily Trust reports that some vehicles were damaged by the stones, just as stray bullets found their way to nearby buildings.
The clash resulted in pandemonium in parts of the city centre, with many motorists forced to use alternative routes.
However, a statement by spokesperson of the FCT Police Command, DSP Anjuguri Manzah said members of the group, popularly known as Shiites, injured twenty-two (22) police personnel during the protest. He listed exhibits recovered from the arrested members to include, catapults, iron bars, stones, ball bearings and pink head bands.
Manzah said, “Joint Team of detectives from the Command in conjunction with operatives from the IGP Monitoring Unit have commenced investigation into the incident. The arrested suspects will be charged to court upon the conclusion of investigation.”
The spokesman of IMN, Ibrahim Musa however blamed security agents for the breakdown of law and order during the protest, adding that “It was purely a show of shame by the police and other security services, who are hell bent on forcibly stopping our legitimate campaign for the government to obey the orders of its courts by freeing Sheikh Zakzaky.”
He said the security agents started the chaos by firing at unarmed protesters, adding “We have confirmed massive arrests of persons as well thereafter, numbering about 230. Many of them have injuries consequent on the police aggression.”
Musa said the IMN would not be deterred, even as he reiterated e again reiterated their demand that Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife as well as other members of the group be freed from “illegal detention with various security agencies.”
Daily Trust gathered that following the protest, security was heightened at entry points into Abuja.