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Shiites March On N’Assembly Records Casualties

By Glam & Essence

Following the march protest by members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), popularly known as Shiites, on the National Assembly to protest the detention of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who had been incarcerated along with his wife, Zeenatudeen, since 2015,at least eight policemen sustained injuries,while a policeman was feared dead during the face off between the protesters and tge policemen at the venue of the protest.The police said about 40 members of the sect were arrested.

The Shiites had marched on the National Assembly to demand the release of El-Zakzaky and his wife ,who had been detained in 2015, following a clash with the Nigerian Army and the subsequent Zaria massacre, in which three of his remaining sons, as well as hundreds of his followers, were killed.

El-Zakzaky has remained in detention ,despite being granted bail by the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole had on December 2, 2016, granted the fiery Islamic leader along with his wife bail and imposed a fine of N50 million on the federal government for the incarceration of the duo.

Yesterday, Shiites, who had in April threatened to change tactics in their demand for the release of their leader and his wife, clashed with security agents when they stormed the National Assembly.

Chambers of the National Assembly were in session when the group stormed the legislature.

The Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, irked by the brutality unleashed on the policemen, warned the sect members not to test the will of the state. He also ordered a round-the-clock surveillance on the Federal Capital Territory(FCT) and adjoining states.

The clash between the sect members and security operatives prompted the National Assembly to order an immediate beef-up of security in the legislature.

Although sources said two policemen died from injuries sustained during the protest, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command in a statement, said eight of its personnel were injured ,just as it accused the sect of an attempt to violently take over the National Assembly.

The statement by the Command spokesman, Anjuguri Manzah, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said two police officers were shot and were later rushed to the National Assembly Clinic.

It added that six others suffered various degree of injuries when the protest turned violent.

It said:

“The group, which started its activity, camouflaged in a peaceful procession, became violent and were trying to force their way into the National Assembly. Police operatives on the ground, however, acted proactively, professionally and used minimum force to disperse the unruly protesters.

“Members of the sect during the violent protest shot two police personnel on the leg, while clubs and stones were used to inflict injuries on six other policemen. The injured policemen have been taken to the hospital for prompt medical attention.

“Meanwhile, 40 members of the sect have been arrested in connection with the violent protest. investigation is in progress.”

Shortly after the FCT Police Command’s statement, the IG, in a statement by Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mbah, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, warned troublemakers not to test the will of the state and ordered a 24-hour surveillance of the nation’s capital and surrounding environment.

He also placed on alert Commissioners of Police and their supervisory Assistant Inspectors General of Police in states contiguous to ensure maximum security in their respective areas of responsibility to avert any possible breach of public safety and security.

He ordered an investigation into the incident as well as prompt prosecution of those arrested.

Adamu said while the police were not opposed to freedom of expression, it must be done in accordance with the laws of the land.

The IG has since ordered a speedy and diligent investigation into the incident as well as prompt prosecution of all the persons arrested and now in police custody in connection with the incident.

The IG reiterated his displeasure with the unwarranted and unjustifiable attack on, and injury to nine police officers by members of the El-Zakzakky group and commended the restraint, maturity and professionalism displayed by police personnel in containing the protest.

“The IG also directed the AIG in charge of Police Medical Department to ensure that proper and prompt medical attention is given to the injured officers and wished the victims quick recovery,” Mbah said.

Earlier, sources had said one of the shot policemen later died in the hospital.

The police officer, who was one of the two officers that were wounded in the fracas that ensued between the Shiite sect members and policemen at the entrance of the National Assembly, was said to have died a few hours after he was rushed to the National Assembly clinic for treatment.

Sources said that because of his critical condition, he was to be referred to the National Hospital in Abuja before he breathed his last.

The late policeman was said to have lost much blood after he was stoned in the head by the protesters.

Six other policemen who sustained various degrees of injuries were also treated at the clinic when the protest by members of the radical Shiite Islamic movement at the Assembly turned violent

It was also learnt that three members of the sect died during the protest that lasted for over two hours before the situation was brought under control by security forces.

Reacting to the incident, Chairman of the Senate Ad-hoc committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, said security within the Assembly would henceforth be beefed up.

According to him, the upper legislative chamber at yesterday’s plenary discussed the issue of security within the National Assembly premises vis-a-vis the Shiites’ invasion of the Assembly.

Adeyeye, however, said while the National Assembly is a public place for all Nigerians, people must follow proper channel and protocols if they have to access it.

The invasion made the House of Representatives to adjourn its sitting until today, with the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, citing security and legislative reasons for the action.

The Shiite members overpowered the policemen at the gate, collected one of their guns and shot the two security operatives.

They entered the main entrance popularly known as MOPOL gate and vandalised the gatehouse.

Three vehicles were burnt and many others destroyed.

The sect members unleashed terror on other security operatives when tear-gas canisters were fired to disperse them.

The gates to all the National Assembly premises have been closed as staff and other accredited persons scampered to safety.

Visitors to the federal parliament were barred from entering the premises as of the time of filing this report

The motion for House adjournment was moved by the House Leader, Hon. Ado Doguwa (APC-Kano) and was seconded by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu (PDP-Delta).

For several weeks the Shiites had staged peaceful protests at the National Assembly gate demanding the release of their leader el-Zakzaky, who is being held by the DSS and facing charges of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, and disruption of public peace. But yesterday, their protest took a violent turn, causing death.

Glam & Essence Magazine