Nigeria: Why We Forced Our Way Into National Assembly - Shiites

Some members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) on Wednesday broke the first gate of the National Assembly on Wednesday.

The Shiites stormed the main entrance of the legislative complex on Wednesday afternoon and tried to force their way in when security officers told them it was impossible to speak with any of the National Assembly representatives.

It was after that, that they broke through the gate.

The incident prompted the House of Representatives to abruptly end its sitting after the presiding officer announced the presence of the protesting Shiites.

The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun, made the announcement before adjourning the session.

Why We Did So

Speaking at the rally, Abdullahi Musa, who described himself as a follower of the detained Shiite leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, told PREMIUM TIMES that the group crashed into the gate after security personnel at the entrance said no one would come out to address them.

He also accused the federal government of plotting to kill Mr El-Zakzaky.

"When we got here, the police tried to play with our intelligence and that nobody will talk to us. That is why we broke the gate to get ourselves in. They now started pleading with us and sent someone to address us.

"The Sheikh is seriously sick and is currently in Kaduna. They are charging him with some senseless offences.

"The court in Kaduna has ordered the government to allow him to see his doctor. Even some international doctors were on the ground three days ago but some elements in the security are trying to frustrate the efforts of the doctors," he said.

Mr Musa said the doctors were also supposed to meet him (Mr El-Zakzaky) in Kaduna on Wednesday. But this morning, "the security came and said they want to drive him down to Abuja for no reason," he said.

"We asked why and they said they were ordered to do so. That is why we decided to come to the National Assembly because we believe they are part of the government. They should talk to the Executive.

"We disagree with bringing Sheikh because Kaduna road is not secure. It is filled with bandits. We don't trust the government because they have been trying to kill the Sheikh," he said.

According to Mr Musa, three months ago, they got information that the government was planning to use bandits to kill the cleric "so they won't have anyone to blame."

He also said if nothing is done, the IMN will continue the fight against injustice until the government "does the right thing."

He urged the National Assembly to tell President Muhammadu Buhari to stop "violating the laws of the land."

"Buhari cannot just be above the law. He is a citizen of Nigeria and should respect the laws of this country," he said in an apparent reference to a court ruling that ordered the release of Mr El-Zakzaky and his wife.

Protests

Members of the IMN have held regular protests to demand the release of their leader who was arrested in December 2015.

Their leader, Mr El-Zakzaky, was arrested along with his wife after soldiers killed hundreds of IMN members in Zaria, Kaduna State, between December 12 and 15, 2015. Some of Mr El-Zakzaky's children were amongst those killed. A judicial panel set up by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, found the military culpable in the massacre. The panel also recommended a major-general for trial.

At least 347 people were confirmed dead and given mass burial in Kaduna.

The Nigerian government is yet to prosecute anyone for the mass killings.

Mr El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeena, are still being detained and are being prosecuted for their alleged roles in the killing of a soldier.

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