There is palpable fear and anxiety among residents of Kaduna metropolis ahead of the trial of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, which comes up Wednesday at the state High Court.
Messages of possible violence by Zakzaky’s followers were being circulated on Tuesday on WhatsApp, advising residents to avoid some parts of the city as the IMN members, also known as Shiite, were allegedly planning “a big attack” during the trial.
The message being circulated on WhatsApp platform reads: “Security alert, kindly avoid Magajin Garin (along Ahmadu Bello Way) and Kasuwa (Central Market) areas this Wednesday 11th, the Zakzaky people are planning a big attack. Pass it on”.
But the spokesman of the IMN, Ibrahim Musa, dismissed the message, saying it is false.
Musa, in his reaction, maintained that the message was being peddled by the detractors of the IMN, including the security agencies.
He also said the Shiite had no plans to stage a protest in Kaduna on Wednesday, but in Abuja.
“It is a false flag message which we believe is being peddled by our detractors, the security agents inclusive.
“We have never staged any attack on anybody throughout our 40 year history. Even at the last sitting, it was the security agents that attacked us and disturbed public peace.
“We urge the public to disregard that devilish message and go about their businesses. We are peaceful as we have been for many years.
“We have no plan for any protest in Kaduna. But there will be one in Abuja tomorrow,“ he said.
During Zakzaky’s court appearance on June 21, his followers allegedly killed a policeman during a clash. Eleven of them were arrested by the police in connection with the killings.
Zakzaky has been in detention, alongside his wife, for over two years following a clash between his followers and the Nigerian army in Zaria, in December 2015.
He is being charged with unlawful gathering, criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide punishable with death.
Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Police Command has assured that adequate security measures had been put in place to ensure there was no breakdown of law and order during Zakzaky’s trial.
In a statement, Aliyu Mukhtar, spokesman of the command, drew attention of members of the public to the ban on all forms of processions and demonstrations in Kaduna state and warned that the police will deal decisively with any person or group of persons who deliberately attempt to violate the ban.
“In view of the Court Trial of Ibrahim El-Zakzaky on Wednesday 11th July, 2018, the peace loving and law abiding people of Kaduna State is (sic) to note that adequate security has been put in place for hitch-free court appearance.
“Therefore, the public is advised to remain calm and not to be apprehensive where they observe unusual number of security personnel in town”.
The statement added that as part of the strategy to ensure a smooth process of the court trial, “there will be traffic diversion in the following areas: Independence way, Bida Road, and all roads leading to Ibrahim Taiwo road” in the metropolis.
The statement called on members of the public to report suspicious activities of persons around them to the nearest security agency or call the Police Emergency Numbers: 07039675856 and 08075391105.