A combined team of policemen and soldiers reportedly opened fire on the members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), better known as Shi’ites, in Abuja on Monday evening.
The incident happened at Nyanya checkpoint along Mararaba road in the nation’s capital.
Security operatives had intercepted the procession of the sect members who were marching from Mararaba/Nasarawa axis.
A witness said that the policemen and soldiers fired live bullets after failing in the bid to prevent the protesters from moving into the city.
“The security personnel opened fire on the protesters at close range. The IMN members were advancing towards Abuja when they were stopped. Many of them were killed. Some also sustained injuries,” the source said.
On Saturday, five IMN members were shot dead during a procession in Zuba, Gwagwalada area council of the federal capital territory (FCT).
The Shi’ites were proceeding from Suleja, Niger state, to Abuja for a three-day mass protest.
Members of the sect were approaching a military checkpoint near Zuma motor park when the soldiers on duty ordered them to turn back. The group resisted the directive as they engaged the soldiers in an argument which resulted in a commotion.
A witness who pleaded anonymity said that the Shi’ites resorted to hurling stones at the soldiers and in the pandemonium, the soldiers were said to have opened fire on them.
Hours before the latest attack, Abdullahi Musa, spokesman of the sect, had raised the alarm that soldiers were planning to launch a fresh attack on the group.
Musa said an IMN member overheard a soldier attached to the guards brigade at Kubau checkpoint along Karu – Abuja expressway saying order had been given “from above” that the military should engage the Shi’ites in a battle.
“Our attention has been drawn to a statement made by a member of Guards Brigade at (his duty post) Kubau Check point along Karu-Abuja expressway that they are waiting for the followers of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky (H), because they have an order from above to engage them,” Musa had said in a statement.
He had vowed that the group would not be intimidated to give up its demand for the release of Ibrahim el-Zakzaky, its leader.