THE Inspector General of Police (IGP), Idris Ibrahim, on Tuesday justified the killing of Shiite protesters in Kano, saying that the police had to employ maximum force because members of the Islamic religious sect were “armed to the teeth.”
Several members of the sect, Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) on Monday clashed with the police while observing an annual rite around Tamburawa on the outskirts of Kano city.
But speaking with State House correspondents at the end of the launch of the 2017 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Emblem launch, held at the Council Chambers of the presidential Villa and presided over by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, the police boss agreed that protesters should not be killed but insisted that if those involved in it are armed to the teeth, killing police officers, the public should appreciate and sympathise with the method deployed by the police.
When asked if there are no ways of quelling riot without killing those involved, the IGP said: “I agree with what you said, but when you have Nigerians armed to the teeth, killing police officers, I don’t think it happens anywhere. I think as Nigerians, we have to appreciate, when you appreciate a dangerous situation, and to be sympathetic with the police that are being killed by some of these miscreants.
“Obviously, from time to time, we have been experiencing upheavals from this set of people. As police officers, we have responsibility to ensure there is law and order and when you have people taking over the whole country, dominating streets and buildings. We have to come in to maintain sanity in those areas.
“As of early yesterday (Monday), we got information that they were trying to block Kano to Zaria road. They later assembled in large numbers and our officers were deployed to the place to ensure freedom of movement of ordinary Nigerians.
“They attacked our officers, killed one of our officers, one has sustained an arrow wound on his head and obviously in such a situation, police have the responsibility to ensure free movement of people on the road. And that was what our officers did.”
On the possible transmutation of the sect to a terrorist group, Ibrahim noted: “Obviously, it is. Whether now or whenever, as police officers, we have a responsibility to ensure there is law and order in any part of this country and to ensure that no organisation or individual should constitute themselves into a government, block passages and buildings.”
Against the argument that Nigeria’s constitution guarantees freedom of movement in the country, the police boss insisted the Shiite movement were blocking the road and not exercising freedom of movement.
According to him: “What happens is that there is nothing like freedom there. When you worship, you go to mosques or churches. Blocking highways and passages doesn’t constitute part of worship
“My message to Nigerians is that all of us should be our brother’s keepers. We should appreciate the feeling of others that where your right ends, another person’s right begins.
“Every Nigerian has a right that must be protected. We should ensure we protect the rights of ever individuals: right of freedom, right of association and right of movement.”