The police in Abuja have embarked on a stop-and-search operation in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to stop members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) from entering the city.
The stop-and-search operation, which started over the weekend, according to police sources, was embarked upon following security reports that the group was planning to storm the FCT with weapons to unleash mayhem on innocent residents.
Specifically, the police mounted their personnel at the various entry and exit points into the FCT to carry out the operation.
Travellers, motorists and other road users had a hectic day, especially those coming into Abuja through the Abuja/Keffi road, Kaduna/Abuja expressway and Abaji/Lokoja expressway, among other entry points.
Members of the Shi’ite Moslem group, who have been embarking on daily protests to demand the unconditional release of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, again took to the streets of Abuja despite heavy security presence to carry out their protest.
The defiant group, comprising mostly young men and girls, took over the entire Aguiyi Ironsi Way, Maitama, Abuja, at about 2:30pm and refused to leave the scene as at 5:30pm.
The police, again, used teargas to disperse the crowd, who in turn picked the canisters and threw them back at the police. They also threw stones at the police.
Workers of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and some hotels and business outfits located in the area found it difficult accessing their offices, while those at work could not come out for fear of being attacked by the crowd, who aside from carrying placards and banners, also carried a casket.
Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, yesterday urged the federal government to apply cautionary measures in handling the lingering protest by aggrieved members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) over their detained leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky. The commission further called on the central government to apply appropriate political and legal approaches for the resolution of the crisis.
The Acting Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Mrs. Oti Ovrawah, made the call when members of IMN staged a protest in front of the headquarters of the commission in Abuja.
Ovrawah submitted that it was imperative for the Nigerian Police Force to exercise restraint in the handling of protests to prevent violation of rights and dignity of citizens.
She equally urged members of IMN to be peaceful and desist from using children and vulnerable persons while on protest, stressing that citizens must cultivate peaceful relations and assist government in maintaining law and order.
Recent clashes between members of the IMN otherwise known as Shiite Islamic sect, had resulted to loss of lives, with scores wounded, among whom included women and children. The group have continued to protest against the continued detention of their leader, Sheik El-Zakzaky, against an order of the Federal High Court in Abuja which declared his over two years detention as illegal and ordered his immediate release. FG had insisted that the IMN leader was kept in protective custody following intelligence reports at his disposal.