The continuous protest by members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) which comprises of the Muslim Shi’ite community in Nigeria is taking a new turn that may lead to violence and further truncate the existing peace of the federal capital territory Abuja. Shi’ite members have been protesting the continued detention of their detained leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-zakzaky who has remained in illegal detention since he was arrested in the year 2015 despite several court judgements ordering his release from detention. The refusal of the federal government to obey separate court judgement on this issue has led to continuous demonstrations by his followers which is gradually taking a dangerous dimension.
A picture that recently emerged on social media shows a police officer confronting a Shi’ite member during one of their usual protests. The visibly angry officer had already cocked his gun at the protester but was held back by his colleague. If not for the intervention of his colleague, the officer might have shot the protester and this would have degenerated into violence and loss of life. It is important to state that the Shi’ite members have a right to protest as enshrined in the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria but it’s also important they ensure they aren’t goaded into violence and branded as terrorists.
Public procession also come with its dangers considering the fact that hoodlums might hijack it. As a result, the sit out model of protest as used by the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) is more advisable for Shi’ite members. It is also time the federal government either charged El-Zakzaky or let him go. Also, arm bearing police officers should be cautioned on the wrong usage of firearms. It is unprofessional for an officer to confront an unarmed citizen with a loaded gun during a peaceful protest.
The state of peace in the country is fragile at the moment, it should not be truncated