Ted Odogwu and Godwin Isenyo
Eight Shiite members and one policeman lost their lives on Monday in Kaduna during a clash between the members of the sect and the police.
The clash also left no fewer than four policemen and 10 Shiite members injured.
At an emergency press briefing, the Kano State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Rabiu Yusuf, disclosed that thousands of Shiite members obstructed motorists and other road users, preventing them from connecting the Kano-Kaduna Expressway.
He explained that the clash happened when Shiite members, armed with arrows and bows, catapults and metal bolts and machetes, attacked a team of policemen that was deployed to the scene to maintain law and order.
The incident, according to the CP, occurred between Kwanar Dawaki and Tambuwura villages in Dawakin Kudu Local Government Area of Kano State.
Yusuf said the Shiite members attacked innocent citizens and damaged public and personal properties, acting in a manner capable of causing disturbance and breach of peace in the state.
He said one Shiite member, in the mayhem, snatched an AK47 rifle from a policeman and used it to attack the policeman.
He said eight Shiite members were critically injured during the clash, adding that they were rushed to a hospital but the doctor on duty confirmed them dead on arrival.
While condemning the action of the Shiite members, Yusuf warned that the police would not fold its arms and allow any individual or group to hold the state to ransom.
He appealed to all law-abiding citizens of Kano State to go about their normal business without fear of harassment.
The CP said he had directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department to commence a comprehensive investigation into the incident.
He said arrested suspects, who were already in police custody, would be charged to court as soon as investigations were completed.
Before the clash, the sect had said that despite the continued detention of its leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, its members would embark on the annual Arbaeen symbolic trek on Monday.
Addressing a press conference on Monday, the coordinator of this year’s Arbaeen trek, Nasir Mansur, blamed the police for the clash.
He said the movement was aware of the “evil plots against the symbolic trek.”
According to Mansur, the movement had learnt of a plan by security forces to attack its members.”
He said the group was also aware of plots by security forces to mount checkpoints presumably to obstruct the sect in its Arbaeen trek.
The coordinator, who hurriedly read the text of the press conference and avoided questions from journalists, added, “Apparently, these soldiers have some sinister motives as they were overheard scheming to plant weapons in bags and then claim that these bags with the weapons belong to the members of the IMN.”
Last year’s Arbaeen trek took place 10 days to the December 12 bloody encounter which the Shiites had with the Nigerian Army in Zaria, Kaduna State.
During the 2015 clash, 347 persons lost their lives while several others sustained injuries.
Following the incident, the Kaduna State Government instituted a judicial commission of inquiry to ascertain the circumstances that led to the clash between the Shiites and the Army on December 12, 2015.
Consequently, the Kaduna State banned the activities of the group.
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