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Shiites resume protest in Abuja after deadly clash with police2 minutes read

Police opened fire in clashes outside the parliament building on Tuesday, leaving at least three demonstrators dead

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Shiites resume protest in Abuja after deadly clash with police
Hundreds of Shiites demonstrate in Abuja, on July 10, 2019, to demand the release of their jailed leader, a day after clashes with police left several protesters dead. (Photo by Kola SULAIMON / AFP)

Hundreds of Shiites demonstrated in the Nigerian capital on Wednesday to demand the release of their jailed leader, a reporter saw, a day after clashes with police left several protesters dead.

Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), a radical pro-Iranian group, chanted slogans and danced with yellow bandanas on their heads in front of the national human rights commission in Abuja.

On the wall, a message written in red paint read;

“Nigerian police shooted shi’ites members @ national assembly on 9/7/2019.”

READ: Police and protesters injured after violent Shiites demonstration in Nigeria

IMN leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky has been in custody since December 2015, when hundreds of his supporters, including women and children, were killed by the security forces, according to a toll established by rights watchdogs.

His detention has led to repeated protests in Abuja and several northern cities.

Police opened fire in clashes outside the parliament building on Tuesday, leaving at least three demonstrators dead, including a 14-year-old boy, while 11 others were injured, according to the protesters.

Shiites resume protest in Abuja after deadly clash with police
Hundreds of Shiites demonstrate in Abuja, on July 10, 2019, to demand the release of their jailed leader, a day after clashes with police left several protesters dead. (Photo by Kola SULAIMON / AFP)

Police said the use of weapons had been defensive. They said two officers had been shot in the legs after a rifle had been snatched from a police officer manning the main entrance to the parliament.

This version was contested by the IMN.

“They (the police) just opened fire,” said the organisation’s spokesman, Ibrahim Musa.

“Of course, in some situations some of our members may have been throwing stones and such but the police statement that we were trying to steal their weapon is simply not true.”

With few exceptions, the Nigerian press headlined with the picture of a wounded policeman and typically described the protest as an attack on the National Assembly.

Musa said there was deep concern in the Shiite community over Zakzaky’s health. At the weekend, his son appealed for help, saying his father’s detention was an “assassination”.

“We are really agitated because we don’t want a situation whereby our leader will die in the hands of the federal government,” Musa said.

Zakzaky has been at odds with Nigeria’s secular authorities for years because of his call for an Iranian-style Islamic revolution. Northern Nigeria is majority Sunni Muslim.

In October, the IMN and human rights groups said more than 40 people were killed when the security forces opened fire on crowds on the outskirts of the capital. According to an official toll, six died.

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West Africa Business News

Nigeria’s economy sees 1.87% Q1 expansion

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Data from Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics, NBS indicates that the country’s economy experienced some growth at the beginning of the year- growing by 1.87%  year-in-year in the first three months of 2020.

The outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic and a global lockdown has however, led to the stalling of commercial activities and a fall in oil prices.

The growth is the lowest recorded in less than two years, following an updated unemployment data of 13 million .

Despite Nigeria’s current crude oil production capacity being 2.07 million barrels a day, the lack of sales and OPEC+ production cuts. As a result, the Nigerian government is predicting that it’s economy will contract by 8.7% in 2020.

The World Bank projects that Nigeria’s impending recession will be more pronounced than that of 2016. Potentially, it could bring Africa’s largest economy to its knees. Early predictions indicate that it could be the worst recession in forty years.

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Health

Covid-19: Nigerian states relax ban on religious gatherings as Muslims celebrate Eid-ul-fitr

In Kano state, muslim worshippers on Friday trooped to mosques in masks for weekly prayers while security guards administered hand sanitiser at the entrance.

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PHOTO: Muslim faithfuls worship during the Friday prayers at the National Mosque in Abuja, Nigeria, on March 20, 2020. Nigeria said on March 19, 2020, it would shut schools and limit religious meetings in its economic hub Lagos and capital Abuja. Kola Sulaimon / AFP

As Muslims across the globe mark the end of the Ramadan fasting with the Eid-ul-Fitr celebration,some governors in Northern Nigeria have relaxed restrictions on large religious gatherings, meant to contain the spread of COVID-19, to enable their citizens congregate at Eid praying grounds and commemorate religious rites as they celebrate the festival this weekend.

The action runs contrary to guidelines by the country’s presidential taskforce on COVID-19 which insists on social distancing as the ban on religious gathering is still on considering the country’s latest figures of 7,261 cases of the Coronavirus with 221 deaths at the last count.

“Muslims should, therefore, act according to the established protocol in their various communities and locations in Nigeria during the forthcoming Eid-ul-Fitr”, President-General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, declared.

“In places where restrictions have been lifted from congregational prayers, Muslims should observe their Eid prayers while still taking necessary safety measures regarding personal hygiene, facial masks, and social distancing”, Sultan Abubakar III, the spiritual leader of Nigerian Muslims said.

In the country’s capital, Abuja, the government met with leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the League of Imams to delibrate on the relaxation of the ban on religious gatherings. 

Abuja city Minister, Muhammad Bello concluded that “all actions on the re-opening of the society is hinged on the advice of medical experts who at the moment do not support it”. He said until a contrary advice is given, the Federal Capital Territory remains under lockdown.

Bello said “a team consisting of representatives of the religious organisations and their leadership, as well as the FCT has been constituted to  gradually look at what the modalities and protocols of operating places of worship will be  when COVID-19 lockdown in the FCT is relaxed”.

Nigerian Police Spokesperson, Frank Mba reminded citizens “that the COVID-19 prevention regulation orders including the inter-state movement restriction orders, national curfew, prohibition of mass socio-religious gatherings by the Federal Government in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos, Ogun, and Kano States and restriction orders by governments in some states of the Federation, are still in force”.

In Kano state, muslim worshippers on Friday trooped to mosques with face masks for weekly prayers while security guards administered hand sanitisers at the entrances.

Around 3,000 people attended the prayers at the Kano central mosque but the service was less than an hour long. They sat shoulder-to-shoulder as they listened to a short sermon by cleric AbdulHadi Ibrahim.

“We thank God that we are here to observe the Friday prayers which we ardently hope signals the stabilisation of the coronavirus pandemic,” Ibrahim said.

Social distancing was not observed outside the mosque as well. While all the worshippers inside the mosque wore masks, many of those outside, including children, did not.

“We are doing all we can to make everyone safe but our capacity is limited as the face masks cannot go round,” a local chief at the mosque, told newsmen.

“Looking at the faces of worshippers, it is evident everyone is happy that though the prayer has not held for some weeks, it has now been conducted today,” worshipper Aminu Garba said.

Kano is one of the states planning to lift the partial lockdown. It has the second largest Covid-19 infections in Nigeria with 883 cases and 36 deaths.

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Business News

OPEC Quota Restriction: Nigeria cuts oil output by nearly a quarter

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In line with an agreement among producers to curb output and battle a global glut, OPEC member, Nigeria has reduced her oil production , according to Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva.

“The cut for Nigeria is about 417,000 barrels per day (bpd), which is about 23% of the country’s production.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC and others led by Russia agreed in April to a record output reduction of 9.7 million bpd for May and June as the coronavirus pandemic has slashed demand.The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and others led by Russia agreed in April to a record output reduction of 9.7 million bpd for May and June as the coronavirus pandemic has slashed demand.

Under the deal, Nigeria should cap production at 1.41 million bpd in May and June. These measures should aid the increase of oil prices which had dipped considerably since the coronavirus pandemic led to export decline in many countries.

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