A riot policeman died yesterday when members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), otherwise known as Shi’ites, protested in Kaduna.
This protest followed their inability to access the court where their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, was billed for trial.
Exits and entrances leading to the court located inside Gabasawa police station were blocked.
Reporters, who arrived at the court as early as 7am, were barred from the premises, and only stood far away to observe happenings.
An eyewitness said the policeman, who was among troops deployed to stop the protesters, was overpowered around Ahmadu Bello Way.
He said: “The policemen fired tear gas and live ammunition and initially succeeded in pushing the protesters back, but the protesters overpowered a mobile policeman and he was mobbed to death. His gun was also taken away.”
Meanwhile, El-Zakzaky’s trial did not hold as the trial Magistrate was said to be indisposed and absent.
It was gathered that the Magistrate was in an accident on Wednesday, barely 24 hours before hearing.
A source who pleaded for anonymity said: “The judge went to the barbing saloon on Wednesday and he was hit by an oncoming tricycle.”
But El-Zakzaky’s lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) told reporters that the case did not hold as the Magistrate was indisposed and so absent.
Falana, however, declined further comment, saying he would not comment on the charges against his client until they are read in court.
The case, it was gathered, was adjourned till July 11.
As at press time yesterday, a detachment of military team had been deployed in the affected area, patrolling between Leventist and Katsina Roundabout of the highway.
Members of the sect also marched on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Abuja to protest El-Zakzaky’s “unlawful prosecution”.
They were received by the NHRC Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu.
The protest halted vehicular movement.
Their spokesman, Abdullahi Musa berated the police for attacking the Kaduna protesters with live ammunition.
He said: “The police have continued to violate our right to peaceful gathering. Yesterday (Wednesday), they opened fire on us in Kaduna and 23 people were injured. They arrested 10 of the injured people and we have only 13 of them with us receiving treatment.
“As I speak now, the police are still shooting at our members in Kaduna and the carnage continues.”
Musa urged President Muhammadu Buhari to release their leader, El-Zakzaky, who has been in detention since December 2015.
Ojukwu, who emphasised the right of every Nigerian to embark on peaceful demonstration, described it as a constitutional right which the NHRC will protect as long as the demonstration is peaceful.
“We will stand with you as long as you are peaceful. Nobody has any right to use live ammunition on anybody carrying out a peaceful demonstration. We urge you to continue to be peaceful because the truth must come to light one day.
“It is good that somebody is taken to court than to be perpetually kept in detention because in court, unless you prove a case beyond every reasonable doubt, nothing can be done. All you need is to put evidences together, get a good lawyer and put across your case,” Ojukwu said.
The protesters later dispersed upon Ojukwu’s advice.