A Deputy Commissioner of Police, Usman Umar, in charge of Operations at the Federal Capital Territory Police Command, was reportedly shot dead after a protest by members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, known as Shi’ites, in Abuja on Monday turned violent.
One of our correspondents learnt that two of the protesters were killed, while a member of the National Youth Service Corps reporting for Channels TV was hit by a stray bullet as many more were injured during alleged exchange of fire between the sect and security forces.
The reporter, Precious Owolabi, was rushed to the National Hospital, Garki, where he later died on Monday evening.
The protest, which started from NITEL Junction at Wuse 2, was aimed at forcing the Federal Government to free their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, who has been in detention since December 2015.
Umar was reportedly shot as he tried to pacify the protesters who went on the rampage.
The protesters also destroyed vehicles.
One of our correspondents, who was at Force Headquarters, saw officers mourning Umar, who they described as a very kind man.
A police Inspector said, “The DCP was a very good man. We were at the mosque on Friday when he saw one Inspector looking haggard. The man told him how he had not been paid for over 14 months because he was unable to complete his IPPIS (Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information).
“On hearing that, DCP Umar hugged him and immediately made calls to the officer in charge of the platform and budget office. Today, the Inspector has been directed to come to the IPPIS office for enrollment on the platform. His death is so shocking.”
READ ALSO: Shi’ites protest cleric’s detention in India, Canada, UK
We’ve arrested 54 suspects – Police
The Force said they had arrested 54 suspects in connection with the incidents.
Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, confirmed Umar’s killing, claiming he was killed by the Shi’ite protesters.
In a statement, Mba, who said over 3,000 Shi’ites took part in the protest, added that two Assistant Superintendents of Police were injured. He also confirmed that the Channels TV reporter initially sustained serious injuries.
The sect, a few weeks ago, invaded the National Assembly where they reportedly attacked the security officials on duty. Two of the sect members were said to have been shot in their legs.
They also burnt three cars and vandalised other property during the incident.
Mba said, “Another violent protest by members of the El-Zazakky group involving over 3000 of its followers took place today (Monday) at about 12.30pm within the Central Business District, Abuja.
“The heavily armed protesters, defying all sense of decency, violently attacked innocent citizens and police (carrying out their duties). During the process, the DCP, FCT Command, Usman Umar, was shot and fatally injured by the protesters.
“The officer, who was immediately rushed to hospital died moments later while receiving treatment. Also, two ASPs and a Channels TV reporter sustained serious injuries and are currently receiving treatment.”
The police added that the protesters burnt a National Emergency Management Agency Response Post close to the Federal Secretariat and two vehicles.
We lost 11 members to security agencies — IMN
But the President of the IMN Media Forum, Ibrahim Musa, in a statement, alleged that the security agencies had taken away the bodies of his members they allegedly killed on Monday.
He said they were on a peaceful protest when security forces prevented them from passing through the Federal Secretariat.
Musa said, “A lot of people have been shot but for now we can only confirm 11 deaths, but several are injured, the figure for now stands at 30. Though we are aware of the fact that the security agencies have been going around taking off those they killed from the streets.
“The police went to the Abuja University Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, and took away about 11 people they shot during the protest.”
He denied the allegation that they shot at security officers.
Musa said, “We strongly dispute the claim by the police that the protesters shot at them because throughout our processions, we have not been carrying any arms right from 2015.
“It was also the police who shot at the Channels TV reporter, another indication that many innocent people were shot at by the police, including some of their own.”
Shi’ites protest in India, Canada, UK
Protests have rocked India, Canada and United Kingdom over the unlawful detention of Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
In Kashmir, India, children and youths embarked on street demonstration, calling for the release of the Shiite leader.
“A protest rally was held today morning (Sunday) in Indian-Controlled Kashmir in solidarity with Sheikh #El-Zakzaky,” the Islamic Human Rights Commission tweeted.
A video of the demonstration showed the group holding posters and cardboards with the picture of El-Zakzaky.
Also, a crowd of Canadian residents and citizens on Friday also protested against the detention.
Halt breakdown of law, Buhari order IG
Meanwhile, President Muhammmadu Buhari, on Monday, ordered the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to halt any breakdown of law and order as the Shi’ites’ protest escalated in Abuja.
Adamu visited the President at the Presidential Villa, where the two held a closed-door meeting on the security situation in the country.
The IG confirmed to State House Correspondents that Buhari gave him the directive to do everything within the police powers to prevent the breakdown of law and order.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Bauchi gov awards 10.6km roads for N5bn
He said, ”The President asked us to make sure we provide security for every citizen of this country and not to leave any space that some group of people will create the breakdown of law and order.
“So, the charge by Mr President is that we must provide security for every Nigerian.”
Adamu added, “Specifically, we briefed him on the incessant act coming out of this group of people, protesting here and there.
“We briefed him on the fact that we have been able to curtail their excesses and to let him understand that everything is under control.”