A military crackdown on the Shi’ite organisation Islamic Movement of Nigera has been reported in the country's capital, Abuja, killing 42 people, Reuters reports.
Security forces shot and used tear gas on a group of protesters who were marching to demand the release of their leader Ibrahim Zakzaky, who has been in imprisoned since December 2015. He was arrested during violent clashes in the northern city of Zaria and had allegedly called for an Iranian style islamic revolution. The Nigerian government have since then ignored a court mandate that Zakzaky and his wife be released.
There are growing concerns that the president Muhammadu Buhari’s violent response to dissent is bolstering radicalisation akin to how Boko Haram grew in northeast Nigeria after an initial violent crackdown in 2009. Amaechi Nwokolo, a security analyst at the Roman Institute for International Studies in Abuja, has gone on the record stating that the military had “no right to use that maximum force” when dealing with unarmed protesters.
“If we go back to the formative days of Boko Haram, it was the killing of some innocent people that actually galvanized recruitment. That's how terrorism works," he added.
Boko Haram has been weakened but is still operational in northeast Nigeria. President Buhari, a former military ruler, was able to win his election in 2015 on the promise that he would guarantee security and bring an end to Boko Haram.
The military have accused IMN of attacking their convoy and trying to steal weapons which the IMN has denied. They have also stated that the security forces were forced to repeal the attack of the IMN who threw stones and Molotov cocktails.