Free El-Zakzaky protest turns violent in Abuja

A protest by members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) turned violent on Monday in Abuja.

The protesters reportedly clashed with security agencies close to the Federal Secretariat in the Nigerian capital.

Monday’s incident comes about two weeks after two Shiites were killed and two police officers injured after a similar protest turned violent at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.

The Shiites are demanding the release of their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, who has been in detention for alleged murder since December 2015.

On Monday, the Shiites had begun a protest at Nitel junction and were expected to end at the secretariat.

Witnesses told PREMIUM TIMES that government vehicles including those owned by the emergency management agency were burnt by the aggrieved protesters.

Some other sources alleged that the Shiites threw petrol bombs as part of the protest.

But in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, a member of the Shiite group, Yahaya Mohammed, said the Shiite members were only having a peaceful protest when military officers attacked them.

“Which clash. There was no clash between us and anybody. It was a peaceful protest. Until these security officers just came and started shooting and attacking us,” Mr Mohammed said.

Following the violent protest at the National Assembly, the police last week directed that protests in Abuja be limited the Unity Fountain, near Transcorp Hilton hotel, Abuja.

That directive appears not to have deterred the Shiites who demand that Mr El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenah be released.

The couple has been arrested since December 2015 when soldiers killed hundreds of Shiites in Kaduna State.

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