Panic in Aso Rock as Shiite protest claims 12 lives; Buhari holds emergency security meeting
Abuja was up in flames for much of Monday as a fatal confrontation between security agents and members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), otherwise known as Shiites left no fewer than 12 persons dead and scores injured.
This prompted an emergency security meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the heads of security agencies. Details of the brief meeting were kept under wraps but it was gathered that the security chiefs counselled President Buhari to tread softly on the matter of Sheik El-Zakzakky, the leader of the Shiites who has been kept in detention for years despite several court orders granting him bail.
The security chiefs were said to have pointed to the heightened tension across the nation and the potential danger the continued detention of the Shiite leader would cause.
One of the 12 people included a policeman of the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police. They were mowed down as the protests by Shiite members turned violent. Sporadic shootings were heard in the Three-arms-zone especially towards the National Assembly where the protesters had massed up.
Several vehicles and buildings including the office of the National Emergency management Agency (NEMA) were torched in an orgy of arson that signposted the protest.
The clash, which started at the Federal Secretariat end of the zone snowballed to adjoining environment causing passers-by to run for safety. The Shiite members were armed and they engaged the policemen in a shootout.
Police initially shot into the air to disperse the protesters but they may have underestimated the might of the Shiite members who returned fire for fire thus causing pandemonium among workers and visitors within the vicinity.