ABUJA—CHIEF of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai,
said yesterday it was by divine intervention that he
escaped being assassinated on Saturday, by
members of the Shiites Muslim sect.
The sect on its part claimed that at least one
thousand of its members had been killed and that
soldiers had evacuated their bodies following the
weekend clash between its members and the
The Nigerian Army also said "the leader of the Shiite
Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El-
Zakzaky and his wife are in the custody of the
Nigerian Army, "safe and sound" in a secured and
The army boss said contrary to claim that members
of the Shiites group were not armed, they were not
only heavily armed but also violently confronted him
and his convoy on his way to Zaria.
The Army chief spoke to newsmen at the National
Assembly complex, shortly after attending an
interactive meeting called by the Senate Committee
on Defence, for service chiefs.
"You want to know how I escaped? It was by the will
of God that I was able to escape from the place,"he
said, while advising citizens to be law abiding
wherever they are.
Insisting that the group was violent, Buratai stressed:
" I think NTA was there and they aired the clip, it was
very clear . They were violent and the clip is there."
Meanwhile, the sect spokesman, Ibrahim Musa said.
"We have reports that bodies of our members killed
outside the house of our leader, Sheikh Ibrahim
Zakzaky are being evacuated in trucks by soldiers and
our leader was arrested this morning (yesterday) in
his demolished home by soldiers where he had been
holed up in a room that was spared from the fire that
gutted the house from grenades."
Ibrahim Musa, in a statement he issued in Kaduna
alleged that the army was not only selectively killing
its members yesterday, but it had instigated the
public to join in the killings.
The Nigeria Police, and Kaduna State Emergency
Management Agency (SEMA) were mute yesterday
over the claims.
El-Zakzaky, wife in our custody — Army
The Nigerian Army said yesterday that the leader of
the Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh
Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife are in its custody
"safe and sound" in a secured and protective custody,
Addressing a late evening press conference
yesterday, the General Officer Commanding, GOC, 1
Division of Nigerian Army, Major General Adeniyi
Oyebade said the order given to the troops was to
ensure that the sect leader was taken into a safe
custody and as at 09:15am he was brought into the
custody the Army with his wife and some family
The GOC further said that the sect leader would soon
be allowed access to his members.
General Oyebade added that in the course of
operation there were casualties on both sides, but
did not mention the number of casualties.
He said: "On December 12, 2015, myself and the
Commissioner of Police were with President
Muhammadu Buhari who was in the state for an
assignment when I received a distress call that the
life of the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt. Gen. Tukur
Buratai was threatened by some hoodlums who
blocked his way on Sokoto road in Zaria city.
"After much persuasions from senior officers on the
entourage, the hoodlums who were later identified as
Shi'ites members remain adamant and in line with
our rules of engagement, we have no option but to
clear the road for the COAS and in the course of
doing that, the hoodlums started throwing missiles
on us; and our men responded which resulted to
"From there we received information that they have
started mobilizing in one of their temples at
Husainiyya, the resident of the leader at Gyellesu and
on Dambo road. That was on Saturday night, this lead
to a long night of battle.
"We have nothing against the Shi'ites because they're
all Nigerians and our duty is also to protect them. But
we cannot tolerate them forming a government
within a government. I call on all shi'ites members to
be law abiding and go about their religious activities
without tampering with the freedom of others," he
In its own statement, Shiite said: "Following the brutal
attack on the Islamic Movement in Nigeria by the
Nigerian Army in Zaria where scores have been
extra-judicially killed, we wish to state as follows: "A
source has confirmed that the Army has taken the
revered leader of the Movement, Sayyid Ibraheem
Zakzaky (H) from his house this morning and is
receiving treatment for injuries he sustained during
"About a thousand of members of the Movement
have been massacred at the moment as counting
continues, but the soldiers are now busy evacuating
the dead bodies to unknown destination.
"There are hundreds of others that have received
various degrees of injuries that are in need of
assistance that have currently been denied access by
the soldiers on ground who are in a killing spree,
shooting anyone identified as a member of the
"The army is deliberately exploiting religious
sectarian sentiment to instigate uninformed public,
some of whom are now busy killing innocent and
unarmed members of the Movement at sight using
"The Army is at present dressing corpses of
members of the Movement with their military attire
and snapping still pictures to probably display them
as soldiers killed by the Movement during the attack
as a means of propaganda, whereas it was solely an
attack by the army on armless citizens."
"The army has also stationed road blocks in Zaria
picking out innocent unarmed people that look like
members of the Movement and killing them in cold
block. Even today they put an army road block in
Zaria to Kaduna highway near Nuhu Bamalli
Polytechnic, searching for any member of the Islamic
Movement. The most weird of many of such cases is
that of an army road block at Dogarawa near Zaria
where they killed thirty of our members traveling to
Zaria yesterday Sunday.
"We wish to state here that some of those earlier
declared dead through various sources might not
have been killed but might be severely injured and in
need of assistance.
"In connection with the above mentioned, we wish to
declare as follows:
"Members of the Movement should be allowed
immediate access to Sayyid Ibraheem Zakzaky (H) as
a means of taming the the situation from aggravating
"We believe that the army is clearing the corpses to
unknown locations for mass burials to cover up for
it's crime. We hereby demand unequivocally that they
should release the corpses to us, so that we can give
them a proper Islamic burial. The people they killed
are not foreigners, they are citizens with their
"The Army should stop the unnecessary stage
management of the whole incident making it look like
what it is not through false and provocative press
statements, incitements and ground activities which
might not augur well for everyone.
"Access to health facilities should immediately be
allowed to those injured anywhere in Zaria.
"We believe that this incident is planned and
executed by the government which has been looking
the other way while the army was killing members of
the Movement for a period of over 27 hours from
Saturday on without any statement and is still quiet
as the army continues with its killing spree.
"The Islamic Movement in Nigeria is a peaceful and
unarmed Movement with members in every cadre of
the society that are entitled to every rights enjoyed by
every other Nigerian, including religious rights,
whose fundamental rights have been trampled upon
by the government in its claim to be fighting against
violent extremism, but instead spreading violence
and hatred using state machinery.
"Finally, as the Army continues its genocide on
members of the Movement, with support of the
government, we hereby call on peace lovers and the
international community to join us in condemning
the act for it is virtually ridiculous to think that the
government can kill the millions of members of the
Meanwhile, Vanguard findings showed that normalcy
has returned to the affected parts of Zaria town and
government offices, markets, shops and other
business activities as well as bus town services had
But Banks in Zaria remained under lock and key.
"We are grateful things are gradually coming back to
shape," said Makama Sani, to our reporter on phone.
"As I am taking to you now I am just from PZ area, I
went round Sabongari and came back to Tudun Wada
area," he said.