According to a police statement, additional security forces have been deployed throughout the capital Abuja, as of Wednesday, July 24, in anticipation of further protest by supporters of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), who have been violently protesting in the capital in the past few weeks to demand the release of IMN leader Ibrahim el-Zakzaky. Police forces announced that the city has been cordoned off and strategic deployments were put in place, notably at the Banex business area, where vehicular and pedestrian movements are therefore restricted until further notice.
A heightened security presence and localized traffic disruptions are to be expected in the affected areas over the coming hours. Additional clashes between protesters and security forces are possible.
IMN leader Ibrahim el-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 remained in detention.
IMN protests occur on a regular basis, especially in Abuja, Kaduna, and Kano states, despite a ban on the group's activities. Violent protests broke out in Abuja on October 29-30, 2018, with IMN supporters demanding the release of Ibrahim el-Zakzaky. During the protests, several IMN supported were reportedly killed, with at least 400 others arrested by security forces. On July 9, at least two police officers were wounded by protesters who unsuccessfully attempted to gain access to the National Assembly building in Abuja. A related protest and associated clashes left at least 11 dead in Abuja on, July 22, according to IMN leader Abdulhamid Bello.
Individuals in Abuja are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests due to the risk of violence, and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.
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. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel to such areas.
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