Angry members of Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky's Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) yesterday unleashed terror on the National Assembly and some innocent residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In their fury, they destroyed public property on sight, molested members of the public ad vandalized public and private vehicles.
Their invasion of the National Assembly complex forced the House of Representatives to adjourn its plenary abruptly.
After massing around the NASS complex in their hundreds, the IMN members scaled the first gate into the complex, bearing dangerous weapons.
They were protesting against the continued incarceration of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, demanding his immediate release.
The protesters overpowered all the security men stationed at the first gate, collected their guns and shot some policemen and NASS members of staff.
As they destroyed public utilities, burnt and vandalised vehicles parked in the premises, workers and visitors who were trapped in the ensuing confusion were wounded by the invaders. They stopped all vehicular movement in and out of the complex.
The incident lasted for several hours before a detachment of policemen was drafted to assist the security operatives that were earlier overpowered by the protesters.
Consequently, the House of Representatives suspended its plenary as the entire complex was under siege.
The Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who announced the adjournment, said that all other legislative functions were suspended till today because of the security breach by the Shiites.
Police Arrest 40
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has arrested 40 members of the IMN for invading the National Assembly.
The NPF said that nine of its officers and men were injured in the attack while two others were shot by the group. They also clubbed some officers.
The FCT command spokesman, Mr. Anjuguri Manzah, said that "the group which started its activity, camouflaged in a peaceful procession became violent and were trying to force their way into the National Assembly, when police operatives on the ground, acted proactively, professionally and used minimum force to disperse the unruly protesters."
He added that "members of the sect during the violent protest shot two police personnel on the leg, while clubs and stones were used to inflict injuries on six other policemen. The injured policemen have been taken to the hospital for prompt medical attention.
"Meanwhile, 40 members of the sect have been arrested in connection with the violent protest. Investigation is in progress," he said.
Manzah said that "in view of the foregoing, the command wishes to state unequivocally that while it recognises and respects the right of citizens to peaceful procession, an attempt by any individual or group of persons to cause the breakdown of law and order will not be tolerated.
"Those arrested in the process will be dealt with in accordance with the appropriate laws of the land.
"Members of the public are enjoined to go on with their lawful activities as normalcy has been restored, and adequate security measures have been emplaced by the command to forestall any security breach," he said.
IGP Orders 24-Hour Surveillance On FCT
To ensure law and order in Abuja, the nation's capital, the inspector-general of police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, has ordered a 24-hour police surveillance in the FCT and its environs.
Adamu also placed the commissioners of police and their supervisory assistant inspectors-general of police (AIG) in states contiguous to the FCT on the alert to ensure maximum security in their respective areas to avert any possible breach of public safety and security.
Force spokesman, Mr. Frank Mba, in a statement he issued last night, said that "while noting that the Force is not against citizens expressing their grouse against the state, the IGP stressed that such ventilations must be done through legitimate and acceptable processes and not by taking the laws into their own hands."
He, therefore, warned that citizens should not test the collective will of the people and the state by engaging in lawless acts likely to cause the breach of the peace.
The IGP ordered a speedy and diligent investigation into the incident as well as the prompt prosecution of all the persons arrested and now in police custody in connection with the incident.
Adamu expressed displeasure with the "unwarranted and unjustifiable attack on, and injury to nine police officers" by members of the El-Zakzaky group and commended the "restraint, maturity and professionalism displayed by police personnel in containing the protest."
The IGP also directed the AIG in charge of Police Medical Department to ensure that proper and prompt medical attention is given to the injured officers and wished the victims quick recovery.