Attempts by protesting members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, a Shiite group, was met with stiff resistance by the Police on Monday as they with tear-gassed at the National Assembly complex.
The protesters were apparently trying to force their way into the complex, according to early reports, to demand the release of their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, detained since 2015.
Gunshots were heard but there were no reports of casualties as the protesters, pursued by the policemen and other security forces ran helter skelter, along with the innocent who were caught unawares.
In Potiskum, Yobe State on Sunday, the group conducted a procession from Kara, NPN Market, Tsofuwar Kwata, Palace, Mohammed Idriss way, Bogocho street, Stadium and terminated at Musa Lawan Hospital.
It asked the Federal Government to free Zakzaky; his wife, Zeenah; and hundreds of its members in detention.
According to the group, it was not fair to keep them all incarcerated, for what it claimed was ‘no reason’, for two years running.
Said the Shiite leader in Yobe, Malam Ibrahim Lawan: “Sheikh Zakzaky’s health condition continues to deteriorate in detention, a condition calculated to bring about his physical destruction. He is seriously ill (and) needs to be allowed to access proper medical treatment. Even as the courts had passed judgement calling for the release of the Sheikh and compensation for illegal detention, the government is still holding him in contempt to that judgement almost a year after. For the last seven hundred days of their incarceration, Sheikh Zakzaky was allowed access to his lawyers only twice.”
For those in support of the group in the last two years, he said: “The road was long, rough and tortuous, but at every turn you were all there with us. The work ahead remains arduous. We will however not relent in stepping up our peaceful protests for the release of our leader and all those being held.”
The group’s travails began two years ago when protesting members unprecedently blocked the convoy of Army Chief, Lt-General Tukur Buratai, in Zaria. That action precipitated a chain of events that led to the levelling to the ground of the group’s headquarters, shooting, and arrest of Zakzakky and others.
Majority of Zaria residents had applauded the Army action, because they claimed they had been in bondage to the group and its activities for years.