Tunde Omolehin, Sokoto
POLICE in Sokoto State yesterday dispersed members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, during a procession staged within the State capital, just as it called for calm assuring of the safety of citizens.
The IMN members had staged a street walk within its stronghold areas of Mabera, Tamaji and Old Airport of Sokoto metropolis apparently to press home for the immediate release of their leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky.
But the police were quick to forcefully disperse the members with teargas. The scenario, however, caused pandemonium among residents of the affected areas.
Motorists and passersby were reportedly said to have avoided the routes linking the faceoff areas before normalcy finally returned at about 5 pm.
Witnesses said the police shot the IMN members with live bullets while the irate members were also pelting the security agents with stones in retaliation.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, ASP Sadiq Abubakar, who confirmed the incident said the police engagement with the Shi’ite members was done in a purely professional way.
In a statement released to journalists in Sokoto, the Police Spokesman, however, debunked the use of live bullets on the Shiite members, saying there was no loss of lives contrary to reports in some quarters.
The statement reads: “Preliminary investigation revealed that a group of people suspected to be members of the proscribed Shi’ite Group, came out along Old Airport road with the intent of carrying out a procession.
“Upon confirmation of intention by security operatives, the gathering was immediately dispersed using minimal force, while the said suspected members got busy pelting stones on operatives and operational vehicles with intent to escalate the situation.
“However, the situation was seamlessly brought under control shortly after the situation came to fore by the Joint Operatives.”
The Police, however, called for calm as normalcy has since been restored. The statement also urged members of the public to go about their lawful businesses without any fear as “the Command has placed adequate security arrangements to forestall any reoccurring of such incident.”