The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has justified the approach taken by his men when they clashed with members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) (a.k.a Shi’ites) on Kano-Zaria road on Monday.
In a chat with State House correspondents after the launch of the 2017 Armed Forces Emblem Fund at the Presidential Villa yesterday, Idris said policemen were deployed to the site of the crisis to maintain law and order.
He said the Shi’ite attacked his officers, killed one of them and one sustained an arrow wound on his head.
The IGP added that in such a situation, police have the responsibility to ensure free movement of people on the road.
“And that was what our officers did,” Idris said.
Eight members of the Shi’ites and one policeman were reportedly killed during the clash.
Idris words: “Obviously, from time to time, we have been experiencing upheavals from this set of people. As police officers, we have responsibility to ensure there is law and order and when you have people taking over the whole country, dominating streets and buildings, we have to come in to maintain sanity in those areas.
“As of early yesterday, we got information that they were trying to block Kano-Zaria road. They later assembled in large numbers and our officers were deployed to the place to ensure freedom of movement of ordinary Nigerians.
“They attacked our officers, killed one of our officers. One sustained an arrow wound on his head and obviously in such a situation, police have the responsibility to ensure free movement of people on the road. And that was what our officers did.”
On the fear that if the trend is not checked, the group would become like Boko Haram, he said: “Obviously, it is. Whether now or whenever, as police officers, we have a responsibility to ensure there is law and order in any part of this country and to ensure that no organisation or individual should constitute themselves into a government, block passages and buildings.”
On whether it was not wrong to unnecessarily kill any Nigerian in the process of quelling riot, he said: “I agree with what you said. But when you have Nigerians armed to the teeth, killing police officers, I don’t think it happens anywhere. I think as Nigerians, we have to appreciate a dangerous situation, and to be sympathetic with the police that are being killed by some of these miscreants.”
According to him, it was wrong to worship on the highway or block the road under any guise.
He said: “What happens is that there is nothing like freedom there. When you worship, you go to mosques or churches. Blocking highways and passages doesn’t constitute part of worship.
“My message to Nigerians is that all of us should be our brother’s keepers. We should appreciate the feeling of others that where your right ends, another person’s right begins.
“Every Nigerian has a right that must be protected. We should ensure we protect the rights of every individual: right of freedom, right of association and right of movement.”