By John Shiklam in Kaduna
There is palpable fear and anxiety among residents of Kaduna metropolis ahead of the trial of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, which comes upÂ WednesdayÂ at the state High Court.
Messages of possible violence by Zakzakyâ€™s followers were being circulatedÂ on TuesdayÂ on WhatsApp,
advising residents to avoid parts of the city as the IMN members, also known as Shiite, were allegedly planning â€œa big attackâ€ during the trial.
The message being circulated on WhatsApp platform reads: â€œSecurity alert, kindly avoid Magajin Garin (along Ahmadu Bello Way) and Kasuwa (Central Market) areasÂ this WednesdayÂ 11th, the Zakzaky people are planning a big attack. Pass it on.”
But the spokesman of the IMN, Ibrahim Musa, dismissed the message, saying it is false.
Musa, in a reaction, maintained that the message was being peddled by the detractors of the IMN, including the security agencies.
He alsoÂ said the Shiites have no plans to stage a protest in KadunaÂ on Wednesday, but in Abuja.
â€œIt is a false flag message which we believe is being peddled by our detractors, the security agents inclusive.
â€œWe have never staged any attack on anybody throughout our 40 years history. Even at the last sitting, it was the security agents that attacked us and disturbed public peace.
â€œWe urge the public to disregard that devilish message and go about their businesses. We are peaceful as we have been for many years.
â€œWe have no plan for any protest in Kaduna. But there will be one in AbujaÂ tomorrow,” he said.
During Zakzakyâ€™s court appearance on June 21, his followers allegedly killed a policeman during a clash. Eleven of them were arrested by the police in connection with the killings.
The spokesman of the Kaduna State Police Command, Aliyu Mukhtar, could not be reached to react on the message being circulated as his mobile phone was not connecting.
Zakzaky has been in detention, alongside his wife, for over two years following a clash between his followers and the Nigerian army in Zaria, in December 2015.
He is being charged with unlawful gathering, criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide punishable with death.