There was tension in Abuja on Tuesday, after a clash between security operatives and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), also known as Shiites.
Recall that the Islamic movement of Nigeria (IMN) was banned July 26th, 2019, claiming that the group’s actions were both terrorist and illegal in nature.
Although an eyewitness stated that there were two dead bodies and many wounded, the IMN maintained that it lost eight members to the incident.
But the Police, which stated that no death was recorded, said that 57 IMN members, including 18 females, were nabbed.
Petrol bombs and dangerous weapons like stones were obtained from the trekkers by the operatives made up of policemen, soldiers, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
The fight came barely two weeks after two IMN members were killed and two policemen injured in a likely mannered protest by the group at the National Assembly complex, Abuja.
The Shiites were yesterday holding their annual Arbaeen trek near the Tricycle Park at 3rd Avenue in Gwarinpa District of Abuja when the fight broke out.
An eye witness, who gave his name as James Ola, revealed that some vehicles were also burnt during the fracas.
Ola said: “Two people were killed, including a passerby. We started hearing gunshots along the road around 10 am. After the operatives succeeded in dispersing the Arbaeen trekkers, I counted two corpses. Some of the passersby who had nothing to do with the Shi’ites must have been wounded.”
However, The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command, disclosed in a communique that vigilant security operatives saw the Shi’ites and moved in to disperse them.
According to the communique by the command’s spokesman Josephine Adah, the IMN members, who attacked the security agents with petrol bombs, were submerged.
Adah noted that those arrested were undergoing questioning at the State Criminal Investigations Department of the command.
The statement reads in part: “The FCT Police Command in a joint operation with other security agencies have restored normalcy to the Gwarinpa Area of the FCT and other parts of the capital where miscreants identified to be members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) also known as Shiites, caused unnecessary hardship to motorists and other road users as well as individuals going about their lawful businesses.
“The miscreants who were found in their numbers were promptly intercepted by the security operatives and dispersed to prevent them from causing further disruption of public order and peace and damage to public and private assets.
“The miscreants attacked the security forces with petrol bombs and other weapons, including stones, but were adequately rounded up by the security teams without any casualty.
“A total of 57 suspects, including 18 females were arrested and are currently being profiled. A Volkswagen Golf, flags, petrol bombs, weapons, mobile phones, and charms, were recovered as exhibits”
But, Abdullahi Musa, the IMN Secretary (Academic Forum) who maintained that eight members of the group were killed, promised that the procession would continue.
He questioned why the IMN members who had started leaving peacefully were attacked by the security operatives.
Musa said: ”Today, in Abuja, there was another heartlessness on display by the combination of Army, Police, and Civil Defence operatives. Sheikh Zakzaky’s followers started an Arba’een procession from the gate of Gwarinpa model city to the main bus stop, where it was terminated.
“Those who attended had even begun to disperse when a team of the joint security agents with all sorts of savagery arrived.
“Eight were confirmed dead, tens of scores injured and numerous arrested. They even carted away from some corpses to an unknown location.
“In spite of all the brutality, Arba’een Symbolic trek cannot be stopped for what it stands for. The purpose of the trek is to recall and equally experience the trial and tribulation faced by the household of the Holy Prophet (s).
“Muslims identify with members of the Holy Prophet (s) through the trek, and in answer to the call and cause of Imam Husain (AS) in Karbala.”