Police forces fired tear gas and live ammunition to disperse supporters of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), who gathered at Berger Junction in Abuja on the afternoon (local time) of Tuesday, January 14, demanding the release of IMN leader Ibrahim el-Zakzaky. At least three protesters were reportedly wounded in the clashes.
A heightened security presence and localized transportation and business disruptions are likely in the area over the coming hours. Further clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
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.
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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