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Nigeria Police Arrest 57 Suspects as Security Forces, Shiite Group Clash in Federal Capital

The Federal Capital Territory Police Command said on Tuesday, it had arrested 57 suspects after the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), a Shi’ite group, clashed with security forces in Abuja.

The Federal Capital Territory Police Command said on Tuesday, it had arrested 57 suspects after the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), a Shi’ite group, clashed with security forces in Abuja.

Two people were allegedly shot during the clash. Police, however, said there was no casualty.

But the Shi’ite group, which had embarked on its annual procession, that later turned violent at Life Camp area of the city, claimed no fewer than eight of their members were killed by security operatives.

Many passengers were stranded between Gwarimpa and Kubwa as both the service lanes and expressway were blocked.

Eye witness accounts said security operatives fired teargas canisters to disperse the group, a situation that caused traffic gridlock, forcing motorists to seek alternative routes.

Some motorists were forced to abandon their vehicles in the heat of the clash.

The Shi’ites  had embarked on its annual Arbaeen Symbolic Trek causing tension and traffic gridlock on the Kubwa-Kaduna express on Tuesday.

Two Shi’ite members were allegedly shot by security operatives around Guaranty Trust Bank, along 3rd Avenue in Gwarimpa Estate, Abuja.

But the FCT Police Command said no casualty was recorded during the incident.

A statement by the command said normalcy was restored to the area.

“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,” it said.

In the statement signed by the Public Relations Officer, DSP Josephine Adeh, the command stated that, “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, weapons including stones but were adequately rounded up by the security teams without any casualty.

“A total of 57 suspects including 39 males and 18 females were arrested and currently being profiled at the State Criminal Investigations Department of the FCT Police Command.”

The command said a  golf vehicle, flags, petrol bombs, weapons, mobile phones, charms were recovered as exhibits.

It called on residents of FCT to be calm, warning that any individual or group, who mightwant to disrupt the peace being enjoyed in the capital territory to desist or be ready to face the full wrath of the law and urged residents and commuters to go about their lawful business without any fear or apprehension.

But another account claimed five persons died, when a combined team of the Army, Police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, clashed with the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN).

According to the account, the Central Business District and many suburbs of Abuja, including Nyanya-Maraba, the Airport Road and all the access roads into the city were in a state of lockdown, manned by stern-looking soldiers to forestall any violence by the Shiite, who had trooped into the city for the annual Arba’een Symbolic trek.

Trouble, however, began some minutes after the sect began their march at the Federal Secretariat, when they were confronted by the Army and other security operatives at Gwarimpa.

Eye witnesses said that violence erupted after the soldiers moved to dislodge the roadblock that was being set up by the members of the sect at Gwarinpa model city by the main bus stop along the Gwarimpa-Kubwa Expressway.

Crisis ensued as the sects started hauling stones at soldiers and policemen, while in retaliation, the security operatives fired live bullets and tear gas to deter and disperse members of the IMN.

As a result, many pedestrians suffered minor injuries from the violence while many had their vehicles damaged.

While briefing the press, yesterday the Secretary, Academy Forum IMN, Abdullahi Muhammad Musa, alleged that eight members of the sect were killed by security forces.

He accused the Army, Police and civil defence of brutality and the use of excessive force against a harmless Arba’een procession at Gwarimpa.

“The brutality they meted out was of different level. First, they doused people with tear-gas, started shooting live ammunition, gunning down many. Eight were confirmed dead, tens of scores injured and numerous arrested. They even carted away some corpses to an unknown location,” Muhammed said.

He insisted that in spite of all the viciousness, the Arba’een Symbolic trek cannot be stopped for what it stood for, saying the purpose of the trek was to recall and equally experience the trial and tribulation faced by the Household of the Holy Prophet.

He recalled that that trek also came under similar repression in 2018, when several members of the sect were shot at Karu Bridge on the Abuja-Keffi Road.

He described the trek as peaceful and non-disruptive to the rights of other road users, adding the peaceful nature of the procession could also be attested to by the general public before the Army arrived at the scene.

In a related development, the command said it has launched a special intelligence-led operation to tackle kidnapping and other violent crimes in the FCT.

The FCT Commissioner of Police, Mr Sunday Babaji, said the effort was yielding positive results as seven kidnapped victims were rescued along Pegi axis of the FCT.

One AK-47 rifle, 15 AK-47 magazines, suspected fake military camouflage uniforms, six  mobile phones, hard drugs, charms and cash sum of 47,000 were recovered by the police team from the kidnappers.

The CP stated that the command, acting on intelligence, which revealed the activities and hideout of some criminal elements suspected to be kidnappers, drafted personnel of the command’s anti-kidnapping unit in a joint operation with the DSS and Police operatives from Pegi division, stormed the hideout of the suspected kidnappers.

“Upon sighting the security operatives, the kidnappers engaged them in a gun battle but for the superior gun fire of the security team, one of the suspected kidnappers, who has been on the wanted list of the command for his nefarious kidnapping activities, Umar Bappa a.k.a Maishede Blakie met his waterloo while others escaped into the forest.

“Seven kidnapped victims held hostage by the kidnappers were rescued unhurt and immediately taken to the hospital for proper medical attention after which they were reunited with their families. Efforts are being intensified to arrest other members of the gang,” it said.

In a similar development, the command said it had commenced investigations into the reported abduction of a doctor and five others in Chikuku Village, Kuje axis of the FCT.

“The command enjoins members of the public with useful information about the incident not to hesitate to avail the police with same so as to assist in the rescue of the victims.

“The command urges residents to remain calm while reaffirming its unflinching commitment to rid the FCT of crimes and criminality and protect the lives and property of residents,” it said.

Kingsley Nwezeh and Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja