Security agents, Shi’ites clash in Abuja

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Worry in Abuja on Tuesday as security operatives clash with members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), also known as Shiites.

Although an eyewitness said there were two dead bodies and many injured persons, the IMN claimed it lost eight members to the incident.

But the Police which said no death was recorded, added that 57 IMN members, including 18 females, were arrested.

Petrol bombs and dangerous weapons like stones were recovered from the trekkers by the operatives made up of policemen, soldiers, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

The clash came barely two weeks after two IMN members were shot dead and two policemen wounded in a similar protest by the group at the National Assembly complex, Abuja.

The Shiites were yesterday holding their annual Arbaeen trek near the Tricycle Park at 3rd Avenue in Gwarinpa District of Abuja when the fracas broke out.

An eye witness, who gave his name as James Ola, said some vehicles were also burnt during the melee.

Ola said: “Two people were killed, including a passerby. We started hearing gunshots along the road around 10 am. After the operatives succeeded in dispersing the Arbaeen trekkers, I counted two corpses. Some of the passersby who had nothing to do with the Shi’ites must have been wounded.”

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command however, explained in a statement that vigilant security operatives sighted the Shi’ites and moved in to disperse them.

According to the statement by the command’s spokesman Josephine Adah, the IMN members, who attacked the security agents with petrol bombs, were overwhelmed.

Adah added that those arrested were undergoing profiling at the State Criminal Investigations Department of the command.

READ ALSO:Fresh charges filed against El-Zakzaky

The statement reads in part: “The FCT Police Command in a joint operation with other security agencies have restored normalcy to the Gwarinpa Area of the FCT and other parts of the capital where miscreants identified to be members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) also known as Shiites, caused unnecessary hardship to motorists and other road users as well as individuals going about their lawful businesses.

“The miscreants who were found in their numbers were promptly intercepted by the security operatives and dispersed to prevent them from causing further disruption of public order and peace and damage to public and private assets.

“The miscreants attacked the security forces with petrol bombs and other weapons, including stones, but were adequately rounded up by the security teams without any casualty.

“A total of 57 suspects, including 18 females were arrested and are currently being profiled. A Volkswagen Golf, flags, petrol bombs, weapons, mobile phones, and charms, were recovered as exhibits”

But, the IMN Secretary (Academic Forum) Abdullahi Musa, who claimed that eight members of the group were killed, vowed that the procession would continue.

He wondered why the IMN members who had started dispersing peacefully were attacked by the security operatives.

Musa said: ”Today, in Abuja, there was another heartlessness on display by the combination of Army, Police, and Civil Defence operatives. Sheikh Zakzaky’s followers started an Arba’een procession from the gate of Gwarinpa model city to the main bus stop, where it was terminated.

“Those who attended had even begun to disperse when a team of the joint security agents with all sorts of savagery arrived.

“Eight were confirmed dead, tens of scores injured and numerous arrested. They even carted away from some corpses to an unknown location.

“In spite of all the brutality, Arba’een Symbolic trek cannot be stopped for what it stands for. The purpose of the trek is to recall and equally experience the trial and tribulation faced by the household of the Holy Prophet (s).

“Muslims identify with members of the Holy Prophet (s) through the trek, and in answer to the call and cause of Imam Husain (AS) in Karbala.”

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