28 members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) were in Tuesday arrested by men of Nigeria Police, Bauchi Command, in Bauchi after tension as many scampered for safety when the police and Shi’ites clashed.

The clash occurred at about 10am at the Central Market Roundabout and Tashan Babiye areas of Bauchi.

The police fired canisters of tear gas to disperse the protesters even as guns were also said to have been fired by the police causing people to scamper for safety. Most shops in the Central Market were shut as traders ran for their lives.

An eyewitness said, “Early in the morning, the Shi’ites gathered to embark on their usual procession, but the police blocked the road and fired teargas to disperse them.”

Another eyewitness and Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Bauchi State, Alhaji Ibrahim Mallam-Goje, said he was affected by the teargas canisters that were fired by the police around Tashan Babiye and Bakin Kura area.

“Actually, I came out from my house and was on my way to the office this morning when I saw members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria who were carrying out their procession,” she said

The state police command said that it had arrested 28 members of the IMN in Bauchi.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Kamal Abubakar, said that the police had warned the Shi’ites not to come out for their procession, but they defied the order.

He said that only “minimal force” was used to disperse the protesters even as he said there was no record of any casualty from the clash.

Abubakar said, “Prior to this day and to ensure that the relative peace being enjoyed in the state was maintained, we asked the traditional rulers to warn the Shi’ites not to come out for this procession today, but they defied the advice of the traditional rulers and came out.”

Asked to comment on reports that police fired bullets and tear gas canisters to disperse the Shi’ites, the PPRO said, “All I can tell you is that we arrested 28 people and it was a minimal force that was used. And when I say minimal force it doesn’t mean that bullets were used.”

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