Monday, 14 December 2015

ABUJA— No fewer than 20 members of the Shi'ite
sect were killed, yesterday, as the military cracked
down on the sect for blocking the highways during
their public procession in Zaria, Kaduna State. The
sect, however, claimed that hundreds of its members
were killed by soldiers who stormed three of its
locations with heavy military weapons. It was
gathered that the troops engaged members of the
sect throughout the night as heavy shootings and
sounds of explosions were heard in Gyallesu and
Sokoto Road, where Hussainiyya – the spiritual centre
of the sect – is located.
The Nigerian Army and members of the sect have
accused each other of instigating attacks that led to
the death of members of the movement on Saturday.
Zakzaky'
While the Army accused the Shiite followers of
attempting to assassinate Nigeria's Chief of Army
Staff, Tukur Buratai, the Islamic movement said
soldiers simply decided to attack "defenceless
people".
The army on its part vowed to put an end to the
threats, delays and disruption caused by the group.
Meanwhile, the where about of the leader of the sect,
Sayyid Ibraheem Zakzaky was unknown as the sect
claimed that its members, who were killed, included
the leader of the Kano Centre, Sheikh Muhammad
Turi, the son of sect leader, Sayyid Ibraheem Zakzaky
and his wife.
In its account of the violent confrontation between it
and the military, the sect, in a statement by its
spokesman, Ibrahim Musa said: "Following alleged
blockade of the route of the Chief of Army Staff by the
members of the Movement, the Nigerian Army
brutally descended on armless members of the
Movement with heavy military weapons killing
indiscriminately.
Those killed
"In the mean time, leading members of the Islamic
Movement and other members as well, have been
killed by the soldiers including the leader of the Kano
Center, Sheikh Muhammad Turi, Dr. Mustapha
Sa'eed, Malam Ibrahim Usman and Sister Jummai
Gilima.
"Also killed were Sayyid Aliy, the son of the leader of
the Movement, Sayyid Ibraheem Zakzaky; the wife of
Sayyid Ibraheem Zakzaky, Malama Zeenat Ibraheem
and tens of other members as more are being killed
as at the time of this release.
"The sporadic killings took place at three locations
that included the residence of the revered leader of
the Movement at Gyallesu, the Husainiyya
Bakiyatullah at the GRA and the Darur Rahma located
along Zaria-Jos road where many unarmed people
were killed.
"The killing was so brutal at Gyallesu that even those
injured in the shooting were identified and killed in
cold blood by the soldiers. And as at the time of
writing this press release, the victims are in their
hundreds, if not thousands.
"Considering the gross violation of fundamental
human rights and extra-judicial killings perpetrated
by the Nigerian Army, the Islamic Movement hereby
condemns these unjustifiable acts.
"We state categorically that the claim by the Army
that members of the Movement attempted to
assassinate the Chief of Army Staff was a blatant lie
as the army came back to launch their attack more
than an hour after the COAS had passed.
"Clearly, the Nigerian government through its military
is now on rampage in an all out war with the Islamic
movement, its members and structures. The scale of
this attack would suggest it was meticulously planned
by authorities and now being executed ruthlessly.
The alleged attack on COAS Burutai was just an alibi.
"Therefore, with all pointers at the government as the
contractor of the killings, we hereby call on well
meaning Nigerians and the international community
to intervene and seek redress for the victims and
their family members as many innocent people have
unjustifiably been killed and many others severely
injured.
"In the mean time, there is no idea as to the where
about of the leader of the Movement, Sayyid
Ibraheem Zakzaky nor his current condition, and
aggrieved members of the Movement across the
country have taken to the streets in protests".
The killing of Turi, the leader of the Kano Center, has
sparked tension in Kano, as members of the sect
staged a rally from Saturday night till about 4am on
Sunday. Another rally held on Sunday around Fagged
Mosque, popularly known as 'Waje Mosque'.
According to a Kano resident, tens of thousands of
Shi'ia members trooped to the nooks and crannies of
Kano, passing through the palace of the Emir of
Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II, and raining
expletives on the military personnel attached to
Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff.
Army vows to ensure law and order prevail
The Nigerian Army in a statement giving an update
on the confrontation said, "Saturday's incident
involving clashes between detachments of the
Nigerian Army, accompanying the Chief of Army
Staff, Lieutenant General TY Buratai and followers of
Sheikh Ibrahim El Zak-Zaky, suspected to be
members of the Shiite Sect in Zaria, leading to loss of
lives as a result of the Shiite group members'
blocking roads and not allowing other passers-by to
go about their lawful businesses and activities, was
most unfortunate.
"The Nigerian Constitution guarantees the rights of
any group of persons and Sheikh El Zak Zaky's
followers to hold a peaceful march or procession
unhindered, but it also guarantees other people's
rights of way on public highways.
"It is important to note that over the years this group
has subjected ordinary citizens using public roads to
untold hardship, delays, threats and disruption
simply because they insist on using public space
irrespective of inconvenience and hardship on other
law abiding citizens and motorists."
The statement signed by Col. Sani Usman, Acting
Director, Army Public relations said: "This cannot be
tolerated and must stop!
"As soon as order is restored to the situation in Zaria
city and its environs, the Police will conduct an
enquiry and the public will be informed.
"In the meantime, the public is advised to go about
their lawful business and report any suspicious
persons or incidents to the police.
In an earlier statement on the clash, the army said
that members of the Shiite Islamic sect Saturday
attacked the Chief of Army staff, Lt. General Tukur
Buratai and his convoy on their way to Zaria to attend
the passing out parade of 73rd regular intake of
Depot, Nigerian Army.
The army added that the attack was a planned
assassination attempt on the army boss which was
repelled and that the army Chief escaped unhurt.
In the ensuing shootout that followed, an unspecified
number of persons lost their lives while there were
injuries on both the side of the army and the Shiites.
A statement by the Army had said : "The sect
numbering hundreds and carrying dangerous
weapons, barricaded the roads with bonfires, heavy
stones and tyres.
"They refused all entreaties to disperse and then
started firing and pelting the convoy with dangerous
objects.
"The barricade was obviously a deliberate attempt to
assassinate the Chief of Army Staff and members of
his entourage while on a legitimate official
assignment as Special Guest of Honour at the passing
out parade which has earlier been widely publicized.
Continuing it said, "The troops responsible for the
safety and security of the Chief of Army Staff on
hearing explosion and firing were left with no choice
than to defend him and the convoy at all cost as well
as open up the barricaded road for law abiding
citizens.
"This is in line with the Nigerian Army Rules of
Engagement and Code of Conduct.
"This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated from any
individual or groups and should not be allowed to
repeat itself.
"We wish to implore all Nigerians to continue to be
law abiding and remain conscious of other people's
right to life, freedom of movement and passage.
"The Chief of Army escaped unhurt and continued
with his duties.

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