The Islamic Movement in Nigeria has issued a statement explaining what happened in Abuja today.
The statement is given below:
We Condemn the Police Attack on Our Peaceful Procession in Abuja
The Nigerian police today opened fire on peaceful Free Zakzaky protesters, killing at least one and injuring many others. It all started in the afternoon after the police laid siege on the venue of Free Zakzaky sit out, Unity Fountain. The peaceful protest march was then started with the intent of reaching the offices of National Human rights commission.
That was when a combined team of security agents including the police, Army and Civil defence attacked the protesters with tear gas canisters, water cannon and even live bullets. We have confirmed massive arrests of persons as well thereafter, numbering about 230. Many of them have injuries consequent on the police aggression.
It was purely a show of shame by the police and other security services, who are hell bent on forcibly stopping our legitimate campaign for the government to obey the orders of its courts by freeing Sheikh Zakzaky.
Ours is a legitimate struggle. We have the right to protest and assemble peacefully. This we have done in Abuja and other places peacefully for almost two and half years now since the heinous Zaria massacre. We have undoubtedly stepped up our campaign in Abuja since the last 100 days on learning of the deteriorating health condition of our leader, who had suffered a mild stroke in custody, and has been denied access to adequate medical care. It is noteworthy that these rallies and processions had been peaceful, with daily sit out at the Unity Fountain and street protests.
Last week, the authorities used combat ready policemen to forcibly stop the sit out. They also arbitrarily arrested Deji, one of the conveners of the sit out. While in their custody, he was clearly told that the “government is uncomfortable” with the free Zakzaky campaign going on in Abuja. He was told to stop associating with Free Zakzaky campaign to forestall undesirable consequences that would befall him should he prove recalcitrant to their calls.
Clearly, the authorities have been looking for ways to infiltrate and give the campaign to Free Sheikh Zakzaky a semblance of “riot” so that they could use that as excuse to clampdown on the protesters, akin to giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Hence this show of shame by the police and other security agencies, attacking peaceful protests and portraying to the world as if we are the aggressors.
We are the victims. No amount of cheap blackmail will make us to succumb. Our protests have always been peaceful and we have proven this to the world beyond any reasonable doubt, even in the face of extreme provocation. We therefore urge the public to ignore this cheap blackmail and be rest assured that our legitimate protests will remain without any threats to them from our angle.
Only last week, we drew the attention of the general public to these plots by security agencies and reiterated that the Islamic Movement has never and will never engage in any acts of violence to achieve its objectives. We will continue to employ all lawful, legal and constitutional means to achieve our goals, and would not be blackmailed into submission or surrender. To this end, our timely rallies, processions, campaigns and other religious activities will continue as at when due and in our usual peaceful ways without fear of intimidation or any recourse to illogical violent means.
We once again reiterate our demand that Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife be freed from illegal detention, likewise the hundreds still in detention with various security agencies.
PRESIDENT MEDIA FORUM OF ISLAMIC MOVEMENT IN NIGERIA