Alwaght- Two Nigerian civilians have been killed after police attacked supporters of jailed Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky in the capital, Abuja where they were calling for his release from prison.
The two, who were members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), were shot and killed outside the National Assembly on Tuesday.
Clashes erupted there as protesters gathered outside the parliament and then sought to enter to register a demand for the cleric’s release.
“The security... took our report to go and give the legislators but perhaps they refused to inform the legislators, or the legislators refused to respond. So, we decided to enter and submit it ourselves,” said one protester. “But they stopped us and started spraying tear gas and shooting live bullets sporadically. I saw more than three people collapsing.”
Police also arrested 40 people during the rally.
In a statement, police claimed two officers had been shot and wounded in the legs, and six other officers had been injured. They said they had “used minimum force to disperse the unruly protesters.”
According to human rights groups, Nigerian forces have killed at least 400 members of the IMN over the past four years.
The group regularly organizes protests outside the assembly to demand the release of its leader, whose life is reportedly in danger due to health issues.
Sheikh Zakzaky, who is in his mid-sixties, lost his left eyesight in a 2015 raid by security forces that left more than 300 of his followers and three of his sons dead. His wife also sustained serious wounds.
The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), based in London, said earlier this week that the cleric’s health condition has further deteriorated, since he was reportedly poisoned in prison.
The cleric’s son, Mohammad, told Press TV on Saturday that his father was in dire need of medical treatment, as “large and dangerous quantities of lead and cadmium have been found in his blood.” He said that the authorities intended to murder his father since they refuse to take any measures.
In 2016, Nigeria’s federal high court ordered Zakzaky’s unconditional release from jail following a trial, but the government has so far refused to set him free.