Determined to silence their agitation, police officers in Abuja have again launched a violent attack on members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria popularly known as Shiites, during a protest to demand the freedom of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and wife, Zeenat.
The police attacked the peaceful and unarmed protesters using teargas and water cannons to suppress their demands for the freedom of El-Zakzaky, who has been in detention since December 2015.
Secretary of the Academic Forum of the movement, Abdullahi Musa, confirmed the attack while speaking with SaharaReporters.
He said members of the group were commemorating the Arba’een symbolic trek, which ends with a march to demand the freedom of El-Zakzaky when the police swooped on them.
He said after the police took over venue of the protest, the IMN members moved to another venue to hold the demonstration but the law enforcement agents followed, attacked and arrested many of them.
Musa said, “We are commemorating the Arba’een symbolic trek which started yesterday and supposed to end today with massive free El-Zakzaky protest within the city but unfortunately the police arrived earlier at the scene where the protest was to start.
“They occupied the area in Wuse Market and arrested so many innocent passers-by while the protesters moved to Utako Market in Utako District of Abuja.
“The protest started peacefully but at Berger Bridge the police launched the attack without any provocation by the demonstators.
“After the attack, we moved to Federal Secretariat and protested and it ended peacefully as the police were busy arresting innocent people around Wuse, Berger and Utako”
The IMN vowed not to be intimidated by the actions of the police until El-Zakzaky was freed.
“We call for the unconditional release of our leader Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenah.
“We will continue to protest no matter the attack and arrest by the authorities until the sheikh, his wife and others in detention since December 2015 are set free,” he added.
Many members of the IMN have been arrested and killed by police during peaceful protests.
On January 21 this year, while attacking protesters, the police killed a journalist with Regent Africa Times, Alex Ogbu, in Abuja.