Top Shiite Cleric Urges Iraq Govt To Heed Protesters

An Iraqi protester waves a flag showing the Shiite Muslim slogan in Arabic “O Hussein”, with the logo of Iraqi Hezbollah flag at the top and along the borders, during a demonstration against state corruption, failing public services, and unemployment in the Baladiyat district of the capital Baghdad on October 2, 2019.

Iraq’s revered Shiite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani on Friday endorsed the protests engulfing the country, and called on the government to heed them “before it’s too late.”

Speaking through a representative, Sistani said the government “must do what it can to improve public services, find work for the unemployed, end clientelism, deal with the corruption issue and send those implicated in it to prison”.

“The government must change its approach in dealing with the country’s problems,” the cleric said, adding that lawmakers also bore a heavy responsibility.

Sistani wields huge influence within Iraq’s Shiite majority community, among whom the deadly protests of the past four days have been concentrated.

Celebratory gunfire sounded around Baghdad as Sistani’s endorsement was relayed to protesters.

Demonstrators have clashed repeatedly with riot police and troops in the capital and cities across the Shiite-dominated youth, but the mainly Kurdish north and Sunni Arab west have remained calm.

Sistani warned the government, which is dominated by Shiite factions, that the protests would only intensify if they failed to deal with people’s grievances.

“The government must change its approach in dealing with the country’s problems,” he said.

It must take “clear and practical steps” or the protesters will “simply come back even stronger”.

Sistani voiced dismay at the mounting death toll from the protests.

“There are attacks on peaceful protesters and security forces which we reject and condemn,” he said.

At least 36 people have been killed, including four police, since Tuesday, medical and security sources told AFP.

DCP Killed In Shiite Protest – Police

 

A Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations at the FCT Command, Usman Umar, has been confirmed killed in a clash between the Shiites and police personnel in Abuja. 

According to a statement from the Force Headquarters, DCP Umar was killed in a protest involving about 3000 members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) who have been calling for the release of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.

The police communique as issued by DCP Frank Mba, the Force Public Relations Officer, states that two Assistant Superintendents of Police were injured in the clash which also saw a Staff of Channels Television sustain serious injuries.

READ ALSO: Channels TV Reporter Shot As Shiite Protesters Clash With Police In Abuja

The statement further stressed that the protesters who were heavily armed, defied all sense of decency and violently attacked innocent citizens and police personnel on duty within the Central Business District of Abuja.

It also states that the protesters razed down a National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Response Post close to the Federal Secretariat, Abuja and two vehicles.

Meanwhile, the police say they have arrested fifty-four (54) suspects in connection with the incidents, adding that the suspects are undergoing interrogation and will be arraigned in court as soon as possible.

The IGP, while commiserating with the family of the late DCP, condemned the incident and warned that ‘Enough-is-Enough’ as the Force and the nation at large will not continue to suffer losses on account of reckless and lawless persons and groups in the society.

Why We Arrested 115 Shiites Protesters In Abuja – Police

Security agents disperse the protest by members of the El-Zakzaky Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) in Abuja on Monday, April 16.

 

Police authorities in Abuja have explained why 115 members of the El-Zakzaky Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) were arrested after a protest in the Federal Capital Territory.

Members of the Islamic movement ended in a clash with police officers on Monday, after they took to the streets in Abuja to demand the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky. Their leader has been in custody for over two years, without trial.

To disperse the protesters, police officers near Unity Park and Transcorp Hilton Hotel on Monday, were seen teargassing the protesters, as the protesters in return hurled stones at the police patrol vehicles.

READ ALSO: Police Arrest Female Suicide Bomber Near Maiduguri IDP Camp  

In a statement on Tuesday, police authorities in Abuja said 115 members of the group have been arrested after attacking innocent citizens, disrupting business activities, obstructing traffic movement and smashing the windscreen of innocent citizens’ vehicles in the affected areas.

The statement which was signed by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Anjuguri Manzah explained further that investigation has commenced into the incident.

Manzah said 22 police officers were injured during the protest, adding that those arrested will be charged to court at the end of the investigation.

“One hundred and fifteen (115) members of the sect were arrested at the scene by Police operatives. Joint Team of detectives from the Command in conjunction with operatives from the IGP Monitoring Unit have commenced an investigation into the incident. The arrested suspects will be charged to the court upon the conclusion of the investigation.

“Following the unfortunate incident which also resulted in the destruction of some government and Police operational vehicles, the members of the Shiite group also injured twenty-two police personnel during the protest.

“Exhibits recovered include catapults, iron bars, stones, ball bearings, pink headbands,” the statement read in part.

The police authorities also warned Shiites movement from disrupting peace in the FCT and advised parents from allowing their children to be used as instruments of violent.

“The FCT Police Command hereby warn members of Shiites movement from further disrupting the peace, harmony and free flow of traffic in FCT.

“This is to also to urge the members of the public particularly parents not to allow their children or wards to be used as the instrument of violence in any demonstration by any group that could jeopardise public peace and harmony.  It is therefore imperative to state that anyone caught in the act of violent demonstration or any act capable of causing the breach of public peace will be made to face the wrath of the law.”

The Police also said no life was lost in the violent protest as the police operatives deployed to quell the protest were professional in handling the situation.