The tension in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) mounted as members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) clashed with the Nigerian Army on their second day of protests. The group, popularly referred to as the Shiites, has claimed that the Army killed 15 of its adherents on Monday.
The military has, however, refused to confirm the Shiites’ claim.
The Director of Defence Information, Brig-Gen John Agim: “People have been calling me and I told them I don’t have information about it. When there’s something purely Army, you should speak to the Army PRO,” he said.
Backstory: The violence on Monday followed a similar violence the day before on the first day of the protests. The Shiites are protesting the ongoing detention of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Troops from the Army Headquarters Garrison at Zuba, Gwagwalada Area Council of the FCT, reportedly gunned down five followers of the sect. However, the Army only claimed responsibility for three deaths
Monday’s clash began when the Shiites converged to mark an annual religious observance called Arbaeen. However, the observance of the religious tradition was also supposed to serve as a protest march against the continued detention of their spiritual leader by the federal authorities.
The observance turned violent as sect members were killed in a confrontation with the Army along the Mararaba- Nyanya metropolis of Abuja.
Why it matters: Investigative journalist, Ahmad Salkida, made a troubling point about the similarities between the current government’s handling of the crisis with the way the previous government handled Mohammed Yusuf and his Boko Haram followers a few years ago. We are still living with the consequences today.
As the first journalist that went to the scene where 20 members of Moh’d Yusuf followers were shot, in June 2009 and covered the crisis frm the onset, the current Shia skirmishes signal a disaster similar to the #BokoHaram crisis that started in 2009. We’ve not learned anything.
— Ahmad Salkida (@A_Salkida) October 29, 2018
The flagrant abuse of human rights by the Nigerian Army is precisely what has led to this point where Shiites are protesting the detention of their leader. It is shocking that despite the murder of hundreds of Shiites in the 2015 massacre by the Army, their leader continues to wallow in detention in disregard of court rulings. And now members are not even allowed to protest for his release but are instead being gunned down.
PS: Some supporters of the current administration are hailing the killing of the Shiites. An aide on new media to the Kogi governor, Gbenga Olorunpomi, advocated for the soldiers to “please use bullets to cure those fanatics of their madness!!”
If the military in my country doesn’t shoot back at a group of people who chose to block the highway and throw rocks at them, how would I trust them if they had to go toe-to-toe with a foreign enemy?! Please, use bullets to cure those fanatics of their madness!!
— Gbenga Olorunpomi (@GbengaGOLD) October 28, 2018