Clashes between Shiites whose leaders has been illegally detained for three years and Nigerian policemen escalated in Abuja on Monday.
Videos shared on the social media painted a scene of chaos with many people being urged to remain indoors to avoid being hit by bullets.
President Muhammadu Buhari is currently in London meeting with his supporters and allies for a presidential election many have urged him not to be a part of after almost four years of poor performance.
On Saturday, a contingent of combat ready policemen, led by the Abuja Police Commissioner, armed with dangerous weapons, batons, shields, hot water cannon and dogs, with some policemen even on horses, took over the Unity Fountain, intent on stopping the daily Free Zakzaky Sit Out convened by a coalition of groups led by the Concerned Nigerians.
They used teargas to disperse the people and the Police Commissioner arrested the convener of the sit out, Prince Deji Adeyanju and detained him for some hours with neither justification nor charges.
“These acts of intimidation and harassment of the highest order are despicable and a complete affront on our rights to peaceful assembly and protest,” the Shiites said in a statement to Today News Africa.
They added: “We condemn it in its entirety. Throughout the eighty five days since the commencement of the Daily Sit Out and indeed for the entire period of the Free Zakzaky campaign, protesters have conducted themselves in the most peaceful manner. Notwithstanding official sabotage and violent (often fatal) attacks by security forces on protesters, we have never resorted to violent methods to pursue our goals.
“These drastic and illegal actions would certainly not in any way stop the legitimate clamour to end impunity and total disrespect to the rule of law and the course of justice. It certainly will not stop the campaign to obey court’s order by freeing Sheikh Zakzaky or stop the rightful call for the prosecution of the culprits of the heinous Zaria massacre of December, 2015.
“We will like to seize this opportunity to assure the general public that they should disregard the misinformation and propaganda being spread by security agents that our massive turn out in Abuja for the campaign to free Sheikh Zakzaky is a security threat. Our leader has never advocated violence and his residence had always been a place of refuge for Christians and minority tribes during crises in the past. The struggle to free the Sheikh from tyrants can therefore never be threatening to the same oppressed people. Today it maybe Sheikh Zakzaky being oppressed. Who knows whose turn it would be tomorrow?
“We are therefore calling on all other groups to join us in our peaceful campaign against impunity. We also urge all well meaning Nigerians, groups and people of conscience to bear on the authorities, especially President Muhammadu Buhari, to release Sheikh Zakzaky, his wife, and several others in illegal detention across the country as ordered by the courts of the land”
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