Deputy Commissioner of Police accountable
for Operations, DCP Usman Umar, was among those killed yesterday in Abuja during a vicious protest by Shi'ites.
It was accounted that a journalist with the Channels Television, Precious Owolabi, who was shot during the protest was later affirmed dead at the emergency clinic.
Eleven members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) otherwise called Shi’ites were reportedly killed while 30 others were wounded in the bloody encounter.
The Shi’ites were protesting the continued incarceration of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
Umar was shot while trying to prevent the protesters from their mass action of destruction of property within the vicinity of the protest.
The DCP was immediately rushed to the hospital, but died moments later while receiving treatment.
Also, two Assistant Superintendents of Police (ASPs) sustained serious injuries and are currently receiving treatment.
The fracas, which lasted for about two hours, witnessed sporadic shootings, forcing motorists to make quick detours and passers-by to scamper for safety. The incident paralysed business activities within the Federal Secretariat Complex as well as across the Three Arms Zone of the capital city.
In the ensuing melee, some vehicles stationed at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) emergency outpost overlooking the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were set ablaze. There were also reports of sporadic gunshots around the Bolingo Hotel and Area 10 axis of the capital city.
The fracas occurred barely two weeks after a similar encounter left many policemen injured, after the adamant Shi’ites breached security barricades and invaded the National Assembly.
El-Zakzaky and his wife have been in “protective custody” since December 2015 despite court rulings ordering their release.
The Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mohammed Adamu, condemned the protest and warned that the Force would no longer tolerate the activities of the group, declaring ‘enough is enough’.
Adamu, who commiserated with the family of the murdered police officer, warned that Nigeria would not continue to suffer losses on account of reckless and lawless persons and groups in the society.
The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Frank Mba, disclosed in a statement that yesterday’s protest involved over 3,000 IMN members, who stormed the streets at about 12:30p.m.
The FPRO said the “heavily armed protesters defied all sense of decency and violently attacked” innocent citizens and police personnel on duty along the route.
He said: “In the process, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, FCT Command, DCP Usman A. K. Umar, was shot and fatally injured by the protesters. The officer, who was immediately rushed to the hospital, died moments later while receiving treatment. Also, two Assistant Superintendents of Police and a journalist with the Channels Television sustained serious injuries and are currently receiving treatment.
“The violent protesters also razed down a NEMA Response Post close to the Federal Secretariat, Abuja and two vehicles.”
Mba confirmed that the police had arrested 54 suspects in connection with the incidents, adding that the suspects were undergoing interrogation and would be arraigned as soon as possible.
Similarly, NEMA has accused IMN members of burning down two vehicles at its Emergency Response and Ambulance Bays (ERABs) in Abuja.
Head of Media and Public Relations of NEMA, Malam Sani Datti, made this known in a statement in Abuja.
He said: “This is to confirm that ERABs of the NEMA located on Ahmadu Bello Way beside the Federal Secretariat was attacked today (yesterday) with two vehicles burnt down.
“The attack was carried out by members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria commonly known as Shi’ites.”
Datti explained that the affected vehicles were the Mobile Intensive Care Unit, which was a life support ambulance, and a multi-purpose Response Intervention van.
He said the ERABs were situated at the location for timely response to emergencies and disasters to reduce loss of lives and property.
The NEMA Director-General (DG), Alhaji Mustapha Maihaja, had while inspecting the damage, noted that the burnt equipment were very expensive and would cost taxpayers a lot of money to replace.
However, the spokesperson of the Shi’ites, Ibrahim Musa, who confirmed the clash in a phone interview with one of our correspondents, alleged that six of their members were killed by security operatives while a truckload of those injured were taken away by the police to an unknown destination.
But in a statement later, Musa said 11 IMN members were killed.
According to Musa, trouble started for his group while they were on their routine daily procession to demand the release of their leader and other detained members.
He said the procession, which commenced at the popular NICON Junction, Maitama District, Abuja was headed towards the Central Business District when security operatives confronted them at NITEL Junction, Wuse 2.
Musa also denied that their members attacked the police with arms and also burnt the NEMA facilities.
He, however, vowed that not even the killing of their members by security agencies would stop the protest and demand of the release of El-Zakzaky, his wife and other members who were still being held by the state.
He said: “The procession, attended by several thousands of persons, including very young children, the aged, women and the physically-challenged, met with an extreme rage indicative of deep seated animosity the Nigerian authorities bear for the movement.
“What actually happened was that the protesters started the procession from NITEL junction and on getting to Federal Secretariat, the police cordoned off the road and started firing at them.
“A lot of people have been shot but for now we can only confirm 11 deaths, but several are injured, the figure for now stood at 30. Though we are aware of the fact that the security agents have been going around taking off those they killed from the streets.
“Even some seriously injured persons that were taken to Abuja University Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada; the police went there and took away about 11 people they shot during the protest.
“We strongly dispute the claim by the police that the protesters shot at them because throughout our processions we have not been carrying any arms right from 2015 to date.
“It was also the police who shot at the reporter of Channels TV, another indication that many innocent people were shot at by the police, including some of their own.
“In this era of social media, the brutality displayed by the police today has been captured with some pictures showing the police setting up the bonfires and there are videos that captured the police carting away their victims.”
Meanwhile, Channels Television announced the death of its reporter, Precious Owolabi, shot during the protest.
In its news bulletin, Tonight at 10, the station said Owolabi was hit by a stray bullet during the protest.
Culled from Newtelegraph