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Gunshots, tension in Kaduna as police disperse protesting Shi’ites

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Gunshots, tension in Kaduna as police disperse protesting Shi’ites

There was panic and an uneasy calm as Police fired shots into the air to disperse members of the Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky – led Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), also known as Shi’ites, who poured into the streets to Kaduna yesterday to protest the continued ‘incarceration’ of their leader and marked the international Quds Day celebration.

El-Zakzaky and his wife, Hajiya Zeenat Ibrahim, and some other members of the group, are facing charges in Kaduna State High Court and Magistrate Court respectively, following their arrest in December 2015 as a result clash with the military in Zaria. The Shi’ites in their hundreds made up mainly of young men and women, commenced the protest immediately after yesterday’s Jumaat prayer along Kano road by shouting “Allahu Akbar (Allah is greatest), free our leader.” As they stormed Ahmadu Bello Way, Kaduna city’s major thoroughfare, they were immediately accosted by security agencies who shot several canisters of teargas into the sky, forcing the protesters to run in different directions. Following the protests, there was immediate anxiety among residents and those who held their Friday Jumaat prayer in the area forcing everyone to scamper to safety for fear of being a victim of another crisis.

The police later cleared the roads linking to Ahmadu Bello Way, Kano Road, Ibadan Street and Abeokuta Street, among others, while directing traffic to enable people move freely as a result of the heavy traffic build up. But efforts to get the reaction of the spokesman for Kaduna Police command,DSP Yakubu Sabo, was not successful. Meanwhile, the spokesman for IMN, Ibrahim Musa, in a statement, said:

“A large contingent of the police in battle gear had been threateningly patrolling the streets of Kaduna even before the commencement of the march. “Hardly had the peaceful march started when the armed policemen opened fire without warning, with tear gas and live ammunition indiscriminately. This led to pandemonium on the busy streets of the central area. “They were seen thereafter mounting road blocks and emergency checkpoints and diverting traffic away from the central area. This year’s Quds procession has been marked everywhere in the country peacefully except in Kaduna.”

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