Police charge 38 Shiites over violent clashes in Abuja

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Nigerian police on Thursday charged 38 supporters of a detained Shiite cleric over a violent clash with security forces in the capital. The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) said police on Tuesday shot dead two of its members during a demonstration outside the parliament in Abuja.

 

Police said they used “minimum force to disperse the unruly protesters” and that two officers received gunshot wounds to the leg. Police spokesman Anjuguri Manzah told AFP that 38 protesters detained after the violence were arraigned in three different courts Thursday.

 

The charge sheet seen by AFP included rioting, possessing a deadly weapon, causing grievous harm and assault. The court granted bail to 28 of the accused and remanded 10 in custody.

 

IMN leader Ibrahim Zakzaky has been in custody since December 2015, when hundreds of his supporters, including women and children, were killed by the security forces, according to a toll established by rights watchdogs. 

 

His detention has led to repeated protests in Abuja and several northern cities. Zakzaky has been at odds with Nigeria’s secular authorities for years because of his call for an Iranian-style Islamic revolution. Northern Nigeria is majority Sunni Muslim.

 

In October, the IMN and human rights groups said more than 40 people were killed when the security forces opened fire on crowds on the outskirts of the capital. According to an official toll, six died.