22 June 2018

Nigeria: Shiites Kill Police Officer As El-Zakzaky Arrives Court in Kaduna

Kaduna — A policeman was killed yesterday in Kaduna, the capital of Kaduna State, following a clash with members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) otherwise known as Shiites.

Members of the Islamic group had trooped out in large number during the trial of their leader, Shiekh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, at the Kaduna State High Court.

However, armed security personnel prevented the Shiite members, including journalists, from accessing the High Court Complex along Bida road, Kaduna.

The police were said to have been deployed to disperse hundreds of the IMN members, but the situation became violent around Ibrahim Taiwo Road as the Shiite members started throwing stones and other objects at the policemen who were firing teargas at them.

The deceased policeman, according to the spokesman of the Kaduna State police command, Aliyu Mukhtar, was hit with several stones by the Shiite members.

"It was a large crowd, the Shiite members as usual were hiding in the midst of people and when our men were trying to disperse them, they started throwing stones at them.

"The policeman was hit with stones several times and he fell down. He was taken to the Barau Dikko Specialist Hospital where he died," Mukhtar said.

He disclosed that 11 of the Shiite members were arrested while the situation had been brought under control.

There was tight security around the court complex as heavily armed security personnel blocked all the major roads around the area.

Journalists who trooped to the court premises to cover the case were turned back by the gun trotting security personnel stationed at strategic places.

Even lawyers were thoroughly searched before they were allowed into the premises of the court complex.

The busy Independence Way, was blocked from the Police College roundabout up to Warf Road junction and motorists had to divert to alternative routes.

Motorists coming from Tafawa Balewa way through the College of Business and Management Studies of Kaduna Polytechnic were also prevented from accessing Independence way.

Also from Bida road, where the court complex is located, through Yakubu Gowon was also blocked making it difficult for people to access their offices.

The blocking of the road caused serious traffic gridlock as many commuters were literally stuck.

Zakzaky and his wife have been in detention since December 2015 when his members clashed with officers of the Nigerian Army in Zaria leading to the death of over 300 of his followers.

He is facing charges of unlawful gathering, criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide.

Speaking with journalists shortly after the adjournment of the case, counsel to the Shiite leader, Femi Falana (SAN) said the court did not sit.

He urged journalists to insist on being part of the trial as it is a public trial.

"Ladies and gentlemen, you also have a duty to insist on being part of this trial because it is a public trial. It is your right to cover the proceedings" he said.

Falana said: "What happened in court today is that the court did not sit. We were informed by the Registrar of the court that his lordship, Justice Gideon Kurada is indisposed.

"In the circumstance, we have to take a date, the prosecution and defense counsel have agreed to come back on July 11 to have possibly the arraignment and file an application for bail for our client.

"So that is where we are. We don't know the reason the Judge is not in court but we were told he was indisposed."

On the charges against his client, he said: "We are prepared to challenge the charges because as of today, the Nigerian State has been ordered to release our client since December 2, 2016. They are still being held.

"It is the height of contempt and to compound the contempt, the government has brought them to court for offences they know nothing about.

"They are charging them with all manners of offences and since those charges have not been read in court. We don't know whether they are going to change their mind, but as far as we are concerned, we are demanding for justice for our client and for their release and provision of housing for them all to be obeyed before any further step is taken because the rule of law cannot be cowed as its been done.

"They are being detained incommunicado but as their lawyers, we can see them."

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