Nigerian Police Disperse ‘Free El-Zakzaky’ Protesters With Tear Gas, Live Bullets

Concerned Nigerians, a political pressure group, convened by Deji Adeyanju, joined a group of human rights activists and supporters of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, in staging protests demanding the release of Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.

Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, the leader of IMN, the largest Shi’ite sect in Nigeria has been detained by the Muhammadu Buhari regime, illegally, since December 2015 despite several court orders for his release.

The protesters converge at the Unity Fountain in Abuja, the traditional location for holding protests, on Tuesday, April 11, 2017, only to be sprayed with water by officers of the Nigerian police. When the water did not work, the police tear-gassed the protesters.

Chidi Odinkalu, a former chairman of the Nigerian Human Rights Commission, who addressed the protesters before they were chased out of the Unity Fountain, advised the federal government to respect the rule of law by releasing Sheikh El-Zakzaky.

Shortly after the police violently disrupted the peaceful protest, Concerned Nigerians, issued a statement signed by Deji Adeyanju, the convener, and Dr. John Danfulani, the secretary of the movement condemning the actions of the police and saying that agents of the secret police, the State Security Services were involved in the anti-democratic operation.

The group vowed to continue to demand the release of El Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah“This morning the officers from the Nigerian Police Force along with men of the State Security Services (SSS) violently interrupted our peaceful gathering when we sought to press home our demands for the Federal Govt to comply with the order of Justice Kolawole by releasing Sheihk El ZakZaky and his wife Hajia Zeenah Ibrahim from their 485 day incarceration,” the e-mailed statement to The Trent, said.

“The joint security team interrupted our gathering using water cannons, dogs, and tear-gas. They also occasionally fired live bullets into the air. “All attempts by several people present to speak to impress it on the officers present that our gathering was lawful and peaceful fell on deaf ears.

“This violent interruption is reprehensible, condemnable & constitutes a violation of our rights to the lawful assembly as enshrined in the 1999 constitution. “Until the interruption, people who attended the gathering had conducted themselves impeccably, lawfully and peacefully.

“We are not deterred by these illegal and unconstitutional actions by a government that understand violence and force as its only dispute resolution mechanism. Indeed, everything looks like a nail to a govt who only possesses a hammer.

“We will once again announce the date and venue to continue our agitations. And on the said date, we will again gather in the exercise of our constitutional rights and freedoms,” the statement ended.

On December 2, 2016, close to a year since El Zakzaky was shot several times in his home and bundled out of his house with his wife by troops of the Nigerian Army, a federal high court ordered his release and awarded N50 million in damages to the Zakzakys.

The court ordered that the federal government provided the cleric and his wife with a new accommodation and security in any part of Kaduna or Northern region that they prefer within 45 days. The federal government is yet to obey the court order and he remains illegally in detention.

Today, Wednesday, April 12, 2017 marks 486 days that the Shi’ite leader has spent in detention, illegally, on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The IMN claims that as many as 1,000 of its members – men, women, children, teenagers, male and female, even babies – were murdered in their homes by the Nigerian Army following a street confrontation with soldiers as the organisation held a religious procession.

The Nigerian Army claimed that Shi’ite members made an assassination attempt on General Tukur Buratai, the chief of army staff that day. But, there is no evidence of such a claim nor does such a crime call for the mass murder of members of a religious community.

The Kaduna State government admitting to burying more than 370 bodies of the victims of the Army genocide in mass graves. With