The peaceful protest of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria ( IMN) to demand for the release of their spiritual leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky today turned violent in Abuja as anti-riot policemen fired live ammunition and teargas canisters injuring two protesters.
The protest which began from the junction of National Human Rights Commission in Maitama with the aim of converging at the Unity Fountain with other groups of the movement who were coming from the Federal Secretariat Axis.
Singing anti-government songs, the movement continued with their procession and heading towards Transcorp Hilton Hotel, a detachment of armed policemen wielding guns descended heavily on the protesters as they fired several gunshots with live bullets and teargas canisters making the protesters scurry for safety.
According to one of the officials of the group, Nurudeen Musa Umar said that the group in its usual way embarked on a peaceful protest to demand the release of their leader who has been in detention since December 2015.
He expressed displeasure at the action of the police to open fire on the innocent members of the movement which includes children and women.
“The police in their attempt to stop and prevent us from going ahead with our protest which is peaceful decided to open fire on our members and many of our members were injured as a result of live bullets and teargas. We are protesting for a genuine cause but they decided to attack us with guns.”
The police vehicles had blocked Shehu Shagari Way by the Federal Secretariat to prevent the second group access to the Unity Fountain, but this was met with a stiff resistance from angry protesters who forced their way through the barricades.
The situation compelled the police to open fire on the defiant sect members, leaving two of them wounded as a result of the gunshots.
The group had embarked on series of protest within and outside Abuja to call for immediate release of Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky who has been in the custody of State Security Service (SSS) after a bloody clash between the group and the convoy of the Chief Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, who claimed the sect members made an attempt on his life, while on their way to Kaduna for the annual Ashura Day.