…How group stormed National Stadium Abuja
By Kemi Yesufu
Many residents of the capital city have switched to the panic mode, as thousands of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) revved up their protests for the release of their leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky for the past 48 hours.
There have been texts shared on Whatsapp messaging application by residents of the capital city, calling on people to ensure that peace prevails and government intervenes to prevent the situation from escalating. Abuja resident have also taken to the social media reporting on the massive turnout of the Shi’ite protesters.
Frontline News Online on Thursday witnessed hundreds of members of the Shi’ite Islamic group march peacefully through the Shehu Shagari Way, where the Federal Secretariat is located. The same road is where the Three Arms Zone in which the National Assembly, the Aso Rock Presidential Villa as well the Supreme Court branches are located.
The Shi’ite protesters which included women and children, chanted calls for El-Zakzaky to be released by the Federal Government. The procession was well organised with some members performing assigned roles such as picking dirt from where other protesters walked through, there also were youths who ensured that cars passed through easily, just as they had members who covered the event with cameras.
Late Friday night, an Abuja resident called Frontline News Online with information, that a large number of IMN members where at Wuse Zone 4 Nepa junction as well as near Sheraton Hotel.
He went on to see them at the Area 1 Garki roundabout. “These people are serious this time around. I managed to drive through them, to head up to my area, at the Prince and Princess Estate neighborhood. They didn’t bother anyone. But their presence in intimidating nonetheless”, he said.
The Sun also reports that El-Zazaky’s supporters stormed the national stadium Abuja in the early hours of Thursday with cooking utensils and large quantities of foodstuff and made frantic efforts to gain entrance into the main bowl but were resisted by private security guards.
Daily Sun also reports that when attempts by IMN members get into the stadium failed, they promptly settled at the entrance, preparing food and serving members arriving on buses, with even more foodstuffs and cooking utensils.
Although not violent in their protest and demonstration for the release of their leader, who has been detained by the Department of the State Services (DSS) for few years, they however continued to put pressure on the security manning the gate, demanding they be allowed entrance into the stadium.
Expressing anger at the situation, a staff of the private security outfit guarding the stadium told Daily Sun that members of the group constituted a nuisance.
“We have been pleading with them to leave the gate because they are becoming a public nuisance. They have continued to put pressure on us to open the gate for them to enter the stadium and the more we resist them the more they press harder,” the guard explained.
“As you can see, what could be uglier than the discomforting sight of cooking in front of the stadium. This is the entry point into the FCT. They came here with large volume of foodstuff and cooking utensils as you can see. They have been preparing one form of good after another.
“We have informed the police to come to our aid because we are not armed and we can’t confront them with bare hands. We cannot handle their disturbances if the situation degenerates more than this. We want to take permission from the relevant authority to close the gate permanently before they pull it down and enter forcefully,” he said.
Recall that the Shi’ite group protested the continued detention of the El-Zakzaky, clashing
with the police at the National Assembly Complex on Monday, before they took their protest to the U.S. Embassy.
The security personnel manning the main gate, who had prevented them from gaining access to the premises, fired tear gas into the air while dispersing them. Some of the protesters were subsequently arrested.