Panic In Nigeria Capital As Shiites March Today In El-Zakzaky’s Release
Residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are worried about the probable outcome of today’s Arbaeen Trek by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (also known as Shiites).
Saturday’s edition of the yearly event turned deadly as some members of the sect were killed during a confrontation with men of the Nigerian Army. The march which also took place yesterday was without confrontation with security operatives but the procession caused apprehension among the population.
Packing flags with Arabic inscriptions, thousands of the sect’s members defied heavy rains and stomped through the busy Kubwa-Zuba highway, heads adorned with red and green bands.
The Abuja Peace and Development Initiative earlier yesterday raised the alarm over an alleged plan by the sect to unleash violence on the nation’s capital. It alerted security agencies to act decisively.
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“IMN plans multi-locations attacks and protests to renew demand for (the release of) their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, who is standing trial before a court in Kaduna state.
But FCT police spokesman, Anjuguri Manzah, said residents had no reason to panic.
“Following trending social media messages that Islamic Movement of Nigeria is planning a major procession into the Federal Capital Territory, the FCT police command wishes to reassure members of the public that it has deployed both uniformed and plainclothes operatives at strategic points to forestall any breakdown of law and order,” Manzah said.
A video meanwhile emerged online yesterday purportedly showing men of the Nigerian Army opening fire on what appeared to be IMN members. The upsetting two minute-thirty-five second clip opened on a gridlocked road. Some youths could be seen hurling objects at three armed soldiers who seemed uncertain whether to flee, duck for cover, or shoot. Chaos set in, as some passers-by and motorists fled the area.
Voices, in Hausa and English, could be heard saying, among other things: “Rush at them!” As the soldiers readied their rifles in a seeming attempt to shoot or possibly scare away the determined attackers, a voice could be heard saying: “It’s a lie! It’s a lie!” A shot rang out, followed by more shots. Military reinforcement arrived and bullets poured.
At least, two persons appeared to have been shot. It is not known whether passers-by were hit by stray bullets or sustained injuries in the pandemonium. There are conflicting accounts on what transpired between the military and the religious organisation on Saturday.
“Troops of Army Headquarters Garrison on official duty escorting ammunition and missiles from Abuja to Army Central Ammunition Depot in Kaduna State were attacked by some members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) sect at Zuba Bridge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at about 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 27, 2018,” said a statement by the Commander Army Headquarters Garrison, Major General James Myam yesterday.
The statement reads in part: “The sect who were supposedly in a procession, established an illegal road block denying motorists free passage. When the troops’ convoy attempted to clear the roadblock, they met stiff opposition from the sect. Members of the sect used various objects to barricade the road and also pelted the troops with stones and other dangerous items. They smashed both military and civilian vehicles’ windscreens and windows.
“They also attempted to overrun the escorts to cart away the ammunition and missiles the troops were escorting. This led to the troops opening fire to extricate themselves. Consequently, troops of 102 Guards Battalion, in whose area of responsibility the incident occurred, rushed to the convoy’s rescue.
“Unfortunately, during the encounter three members of the sect were killed while two soldiers sustained various degrees of injuries and are being treated at a military medical facility.”
The Islamic Movement however dismissed the army’s claim as “false, unsubstantiated, and mischievous”. It described the account as an attempt to “justify the bestiality they meted out to the innocent, unarmed members of the Islamic Movement on Saturday, while carrying out their solemn religious duty of Arbaeen mourning procession at Zuba.”
The group’s spokesman, Ibrahim Musa, in a counter-statement said: “These age-long, worn-out malevolent storylines are no longer being believed by members of the public because, over time, the Islamic Movement has convincingly demonstrated its peaceful disposition while conducting its religious obligations, even in the face of extreme official persecution.
“It is not their nature to attack security agents, government property or fellow citizens during their protests. The Nigerian Army should please find other storylines, but certainly not these.