Nigeria’s banned Islamist movement says eight members of the Abuzar procession have been shot dead by police.
Nigerian police say they have arrested dozens of Shia Muslim followers of a banned group during a religious procession in the country’s capital, and a spokesman for the group has claimed that eight members were shot dead during the rally.
Abuja police on Tuesday denied any casualties in dispersing a religious ceremony in Arbain.
Police said they intervened to detain members of Nigeria’s banned Islamic Movement (IMN) because they were “unnecessarily harassing motorists” on the Abuja-Kubwa Expressway. And stones.
“Security personnel immediately apprehended the miscreants found in their numbers and dispersed them to prevent further disruption of public order,” the police statement said.
However, IMN member Abdullahi Muhammad told Reuters news agency that a group of police and soldiers fired tear gas and ammunition at the participants as they were walking peacefully along the expressway.
Ibrahim Musa, a spokesman for the IMN, said security forces had opened fire and injured protesters.
“We were rounding up the procession when the police and army came and started firing,” he said.
The IMN, a pro-Iranian group that was banned in 2019 to protest the arrest of its leader Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, has clashed with Nigerian security forces for years and often marches in Abuja.
The army killed IM50 IMN Shia Muslims during a religious procession in northern Nigeria in December 2015. According to rights groups, many were shot dead and burned alive.
IMN leader El-Zakzaki and his wife, who have been in custody since 2015, were released last month after being acquitted by a court of murder in connection with the death of one of their soldiers.
But religious leaders still face charges of terrorism and treason, according to prosecutors.
About half of Nigeria’s 200 million population is Muslim. Most of them are Sunnis. The Shia Muslim minority has long complained of discrimination and oppression.