By Luminous Jannamike
Abuja – Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) also known as Shi’ites, on Wednesday, held a street protest in Abuja to mark one year after the murder of a Deputy Commissioner of Police Usman Belel and a journalist, Precious Owolabi.
Recall Owolabi was on his National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, mandatory service with Channels TV when he was killed.
Both Owolabi and DCP Usman were hit by stray bullets during a bloody clash between the Shi’ites and the Nigerian Police on July 22, 2019.
The fracas which occurred between the Federal Secretariat and the National Assembly Complex also claimed the lives of several Shi’ites.
Speaking during the remembrance protest, Abdullahi Musa, the Secretary of IMN’s Academic Forum, insisted that the police were responsible for the death of the all those who died during the fiasco.
He said, “Exactly a year ago, when Sheikh Zakzaky’s followers, demanding for his unconditional release, marched in a procession towards the Federal Secretariat, Abuja.
“On arriving, DCP Usman Umar Belel waylaid us on our way to the place designated for the march termination, and he began to address us.
“While this was going on, all of a sudden, other police personnel started shooting live ammunition, the cruelty through which he was assassinated, Precious Owolabi and 16 free-Zakzaky protesters were killed.
“On this occasion of the incident anniversary, we wish to inform the public of police responsibility for the savage brutality,” the statement noted.
The IMN said they were able to evacuate 6 corpses after the killing and conducted their funeral, while the remaining 10 corpses were taken by the Nigerian police.
“After the killing, we were able to evacuate six corpses of the protesters and conduct funeral prayers for them according to the Islamic rites, and the remaining 10 corpses were evacuated by the police.
“Despite a Federal High Court judgement delivered on 29 June 2020 for the release of the corpses, up to this moment, the police are hiding 4 corpses at National Hospital and 6 corpses at Asokoro District Hospital,” the Shi’ites said.
“In his judgement, Justice Taiwo O Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja declared that the killing of free-Zakzaky protesters by the agents of the Nigeria Police Force on the 22nd day of July 2019 was illegal, unlawful, null and void and amount to gross violation of their fundamental rights to life as enshrined in section 33 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“The Court also ordered Inspector General of Police to pay the sum of N15,000,000 to the families of the protesters killed. Moreover, the Court ordered the Medical Director, National Hospital Abuja, to release the corpses of the protesters deposited at the Hospital by the police.
“Similarly, the assassination of the journalist Alex Ogbu in January 2020 has exposed the complicity of the police in the murder of both DCP Usman Umar Belel and Precious Owolabi.
“As we condemn the triad assassination, we urge the families of these personalities to sue the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, for such atrocious brutality.
“Finally, we reiterate our demand for the unconditional release of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife, Mallama Zeenah Ibraheem,” he added.