The United States, US, has expressed concern over deaths recorded in recent clashes between the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (Shi’ites) and security forces in areas surrounding Abuja.
Dozens of protesting Shi’ites demanding the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, were reportedly killed between Saturday and Tuesday by soldiers who accused the protesters of throwing stones and other objects at security forces. El-Zakzaky has been detained since 2015 after a military clampdown on his group left over 300 IMN members dead.
Following the violence, hundreds of Shiites were arrested by the police and 120 of them arraigned on Thursday in Abuja.
But a statement issued by the Information Office, Public Affairs Section, Embassy of the United States of America, expressed concern by the violence between protesting Shi’ites and Nigerian soldiers in and around Abuja, and called for restraint on all sides.
“The United States Embassy is concerned by the deaths resulting from clashes between Nigerian security forces and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in areas surrounding Abuja.
“We urge government of Nigeria authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the events and to take appropriate action to hold accountable those responsible for violations of Nigerian law. We urge restraint on all sides,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, the police, yesterday, arraigned 130 out of the 400 members of IMN before the Magistrates Court in Abuja for allegedly engaging in violent protest in some parts of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, as they clamoured for the release of their leader.
They were arraigned in batches before courts 11, 15, 17 and 18.
Thirty-five of them were arraigned before Magistrate Njideka Duru of Court 11 and were granted each bail at N50,000 with a surety in like sum, just as another batch of 35 who were arraigned before Magistrate Musa Ibrahim Jibo of Court 15 were granted bail at N200,000 with one surety each.
Twenty others were docked before Magistrate Lateef Abolaji who granted them bail at N50,000, while Magistrate Elizabeth Jones Woni granted bail at N500, 000 to each of the 30 brought before her. She equally directed that they must jointly provide three sureties.
Those arraigned were mostly male with about 12 women, some of them nursing mothers.
According to the First Information Reports (FIR) tendered in court, the sect members were charged with disturbing public peace, causing bodily harm to individuals (including police personnel and members of the public), among others.
The sect members who were conveyed to court in two police trucks pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them, following, which their lawyers applied for bail on their behalf.
They were, however, returned to the police vehicles pending when they meet their bail conditions.
Further hearing has been fixed for December 5.