The Nigerian Army has made a public declaration on its reason for attacking members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. The Army said on Saturday that the group blocked the road and attempted to kill the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, in Kaduna State.
Describing the incident as ‘most unfortunate’, Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Colonel Usman Sani, blamed the sect for blocking roads meant for the public.
“Yesterday’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,” he said.
Speaking further on the issue, Colonel Usman explained why the army took their action.
“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.
This cannot be tolerated and must stop!
Usman assured Nigerians that more investigations will be done by the Nigerian police once serenity is restored in the city of Zaria and its environment. He also assured that the public will be adequately informed about all findings made on the issue. “In the meantime, the public is advised to go about their lawful business and report any suspicious persons or incidents to the police,” he said.
Meanwhile, it was reported that the military reigned down on the Shiite sect for blocking the highways during their public procession in Zaria, Kaduna State. The sect has however, claimed that hundreds of its unarmed members were killed by soldiers who stormed three of its locations with heavy military weapons. Report also has it 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.
Reacting to the destructive killings of their members by the Nigerian Army, the sect said such violation of human rights perpetrated by the army is unjustifiable and asked well-meaning Nigerians and the international body to intervene in the matter.
“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”Said Buratai.
Nevertheless, the Army is yet to give details about the various attacks or whether Mr. Zakzaky is in their custody or not.The Shiite group said the son and wife of Mr. Zakzaky were among ‘hundreds’ of its members killed by soldiers.