Eight members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) (aka Shi’ites) and one policeman died yesterday when protesting members of the sect clashed with policemen in Kano.
Commissioner of Police Rabiu Yusuf told reporters that four policemen and many Shi’ites were injured during the clash, which occurred on Kano-Zaria road in the city.
He said: “During the clash, we were able to arrest many members of the IMN and we are going to conduct an investigation into the incident.
“Members of the movement snatched an AK 47 riffle from our men, but we were able to recover it,’’ he said.
The sect’s spokesperson, Malam Ali Kakaki, said members of the group were demanding the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
“As our members walked toward the Amana City, close to Tamburawa area, some policemen began to shoot in all directions.
“The casualties on our side include women and children,’’ Kakaki said.
The clash occurred at about 8 a.m. along the 20-kilometre Kano-Kaduna expressway between Kurna Dawaki and Tamburawa village in Dawakin Kudu Local Government Area when members of IMN embarked on their annual Arbaneen symbolic trek from Kano to Zaria.
Eyewitnesses spoke of thousands of the Shi’te members marching when security agencies blocked them, ordering them to disperse. The Shi’te members, who had already obstructed traffic on the highway resisted the order. A bloody clash ensued.
Unconfirmed reports put the death toll at 20. Scores were seriously wounded. The police chief said the members of the sect who were arrested would soon be prosecuted.
He added: ”Today (Monday), at about 8 a.m., thousands of Shiite members obstructed motorists and other road users free access to Kano-Kaduna express way between Kwanar Dawaki and Tamburawa village in Dawakin Kudu Local Government Area.
”They also attacked innocent citizens, damaged public and personal properties, thereby causing mayhem that could lead to general disturbances of public peace in the state. The police will not allow anybody or group of persons to hold the state to ransom.
”Combined team of PMF, CTU, SARS and conventional police were adequately deployed to ensure peace and safety of the people. In the process, Shiite members who were armed with bows and arrows, catapults with metal bolts, cutlass and other dangerous weapons attacked the police team, killing one policeman and critically injuring four others.
There was apprehension in Kano as police deployed men on Zaria Road.
In a statement Police Spokesman Don Awunah said: “You know that Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) has been banned. At about 8am on Monday, they started a procession from Kano and they were heading to Zaria but along the way, around Kwanar Dawaki, Kudu Local government Area of Kano, they became violent and started blocking roads, smashing cars, attacking people and they went as far as molesting people.
“They prevented a lot of motorists from moving to their different destination.
“The police were informed and to prevent further breakdown of law and order, the police Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) and conventional policemen were mobilized. They became violent and attacked our men and people. In the process, one police officer was killed, and two others were wounded.
They also snatched one of the firearms of our men but it was recovered.
“Eight of their IMN members were wounded and 15 of them have been arrested.
“The police have since restored normalcy in the area.
A bloody clash last December between Shiite and soldiers in Zaria led to the death of more than 200 members of the sect and the arrest and detention of its leader, his wife and top members.