Molly Kilete, Abuja
There is palpable tension in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), following Monday’s violent clashes between members of the Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and the police that left about 13 people dead and several more injured.
Many residents, especially those work or do business in and around the federal secretariat, have decided to remain indoors for their safety.
Traffic on normally busy city routes has been light Tuesday morning as a result of this.
Most residents spoken to particularly expressed worry over the killing of a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, Precious Owolabi, who until his death worked with Channels Television.
People outside the FCT, who have relatives living in Abuja, have been calling to find out the state of security in the city, warning them to be cautious.
An anonymous text message which has been circulating since Monday night on mobile phones and message apps, alerting people to be careful about their movements, has also heightened tensions around safety and security in the city.
The message reads:
“There will be massive raid on residents of FCT by police and other security agents. This is due to the aftermath of the Shiites n police clash today.
“Among the casualty is the deputy commissioner of police incharge of FCT, he was killed while begging the Shiites group to calm down.
“Pls dress good and compose urselves anywhere u find urself so dat u will not be a victim of circumstances
“Emergency security meeting is ongoing at the moment in the villa. Beware ooooo
Thanks n God bless.”
But in a swift reaction, police public relations officer Frank Mba called on residents to dispel rumours, assuring the public that the police would not harm innocent citizens.
Mba, reacting to the text message in a telephone interview with Daily Sun, said:
“We will not do anything to make the citizens suffer twice. They are already being chocked by the illegal, unlawful, violent, irresponsible activities of some other group and we will not serve them double portion of inconveniences.
“We are together with the people, we are together with the citizens.
“We will work with the citizens and for the citizens. If we must carry out any operation, it must be an operation that is purposeful, intelligence-driven and target-oriented.
“We will not, and I repeat, we will not embark on indiscriminate operations that will unnecessarily put our citizens in jeopardy or put them under unwarranted inconveniences.”
Meanwhile, the body of late Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Usman Musa, who was killed in the violent clash, has been laid to rest in Abuja.
He was buried Monday according to Islamic rites.