Nigerian police on monday, fired bullets and tear gas to disperse Shi’ite Muslim protesters marching for their leader’s freedom in the capital city-ABUJA. The organizers of the movement said at least one demonstrator was killed and several were wounded by gunfire. FCT Police Command said about 115 members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria-IMN have been taken into custody due to the violent act that accompanied the protest. Police also said in a statement that the protesters had injured 22 officers and again, Contrary to speculations from some sections of the media, it was said that no life was lost in the violent protest.
The Leaders of IMN said the police are holding back vital information about those been held. They are over 200 of our members in their custody, but the police is giving a lesser figure in their account of the incident.
The IMN leader Mr Ibrahim Zakzaky has been jailed since December 2015, when security forces killed hundreds of members in a crackdown on a group estimated to have 3 million followers.
The violent repression of the group and the detention of its leader have drawn accusations that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is abusing human rights. Though IMN has held regular peaceful protests in Abuja in recent months. The court ruled his detention without charge is illegal.
Their are indications that the crackdown of the group might deteroriate and could become radicalized, narrowing it down to thesame way the Sunni Muslim militant group Boko Haram turned into a violent insurgency in 2009 after police gunned down its leader.
protesters pelting an armored police vehicle with rocks
“As we started protesting, they started shooting tear gas and using water cannons,” Abdullahi Muhammad, an IMN youth leader, told Reuters by phone. “We refused to disperse and they used bullets as well, and they shot so many people.”
“They want to push us to violence but they couldn’t, so that is why they are using live ammunition, thinking that killing will stop us. No amount of killing will stop us,” he added.
Muhammad said he witnessed police dragging bullet-hit protesters into a van and sitting on them, adding that he did not know if they were dead or alive.
The IMN was founded in the 1980s after the revolution in mainly Shi’ite Iran in 1979, which inspired the group’s founders.
In December 2015, a judicial inquiry into the clashes concluded that the military had killed 347 IMN members in Zakzaky’s home base, the city of Zaria. Soldiers buried the bodies in mass graves.