Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Operatives of the Kaduna State Police Command yesterday engaged members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), also known as Shi’ites, in a gun duel in Kaduna over the continuous detention of Sheikh Ibrahim El-zakzaky, leader of the group.
The Shiites, in their numbers, in protest, took over the popular Ahmadu Bello Way, the commercial nerve of the state capital, carrying placards with various inscriptions demanding the release of their leader thereby grounding business activities within the city centre for hours.
Two police officers, who sustained varying degrees of injury during the encounter, were receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital, the command’s spokesman, ASP Aliyu Mukhtar, told Daily Sun on phone.
Aliyu said: “The Shi’ites, in their usual procession, came with many women and children and blocked the major road in the state, denying other citizens the right to use the road. But this time around, they came fully armed. Two of our men were critically injured and they are now receiving treatment at a hospital here in Kaduna. But I don’t know if there is any causality on their own part.
“As I speak with you, we have been able to disperse them and bring the situation under control. We were also able to arrest five of them. The police will not condone any form of lawlessness in the state.”
A witness, who did not want his name in print, said the protesters returned and fired gunshots, adding that two police men may have lost their lives in the process.
But in a swift reaction, the leader of Shi’ites in Kaduna, Sheik Aliyu Tirmizi, denied any exchange of fire with policemen, saying: “We don’t carry firearms and have no plan to do so. The allegation against us that we came fully armed is not true. We have been protesting for the release of our leader, who has been in government custody for quite a long time. We have never carried arms and we can never carry arms.
“As we speak, I cannot tell you if any of our member was killed because we are still taking inventory of what happened. But several of them were seriously injured by bullets from police guns while many were equally arrested.”
The protests resumed shortly after their leader was arrested following the clash between his followers and men of the army that left several dead.