Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) are protesting as of the afternoon (local time) of Thursday, September 20, in the capital Abuja to demand the release of their detained leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzazy. Over 400 protesters are reportedly carrying placards and sticks on Aguiyi Ironsi street, causing major traffic disruptions in the area. Clashes between IMN members and security forces are possible.
IMN protests occur on a regular basis, especially in Abuja, Kaduna, and Kano states, despite a ban on the group's activities. Such protests have occasionally led to violent clashes between protesters and police, as well as arrests.
Zakzaky, a prominent Shi'a cleric, was arrested in December 2015 when soldiers raided his home in Zaria (Kaduna state), killing a number of IMN followers in the process. The Nigerian Federal High Court ordered Zakzaky's release in December 2016, but he has nevertheless remained in detention. He was reportedly in poor health as of early January 2018, and IMN protesters have demanded his release for medical treatment.
Individuals in Abuja are advised to avoid all protests due to the risk of associated violence, plan alternative routes, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
In general, the security environment in Nigeria is complex and is particularly challenging in the northeast and extreme south of the country due to the presence of armed groups, high crime rates, and the risk of kidnapping. Some Western governments consequently advise against travel to certain areas of the northeast (e.g. states of Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, and Jigawa as well as parts of Kano and Adamawa states) and the southern Niger Delta region (e.g. states of Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers). Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel to these areas.
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