Contrary to the widespread report that the of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, also known as Shi’ite group, Sayyid Ibraheem El-Zakzakky, and his wife and son may have been killed in the battle that ensued between the movement and the Army, the Nigeria Army yesterday confirmed that the leader of the movement, his wife and some other members are hale and hearty in its custody and in a protective environment.
General Officer Commanding (GOC), 1 Division headquarters, Kaduna, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade, who disclosed this while addressing a press conference on the update of their operations, also said that in the course of time, the leader of the movement would address his members.
He said: “Security forces have nothing against the leader of the movement or its members, but the army, as part of its constitutional responsibility, will under no guise tolerate any breakdown of law and order,” he said.
“I want to confirm to you that the leader of the movement, his wife and some members are in our protective custody and will address his members with time.
“We tried our best not to attack the Shi’ite members who were armed with dangerous weapons but for protective measures, in the course of our operations, both members of the movement and some soldiers lost their lives.”
General Oyebade, who addressed the press in company of the state commissioner of police, Umar Shehu, confirmed that there were casualties on both sides – the army and the movement, but he declined to mention the figures.
However, the movement, in its statement which was issued and signed by the president of the sect’s media forum, Ibrahim Musa, claimed that 1,000 of their members were killed in the operation that lasted several hours.
The statement also alleged that “the army is presently dressing corpses of members of the movement with military attire and snapping still pictures to probably display them as soldiers killed by the movement.”
General Oyebade confirmed that normalcy had returned to Zaria city and that people were already going about their normal businesses.
He urged members of the movement to embrace peace and be law abiding.
He also confirmed that the residence and shrine of the movement had been demolished in the course of the military operation.
On his part, the police commissioner said the movement did not have respect for any constituted authority; hence it did not secure any permission before embarking on their processions during which they normally blocked the highways.
Army, Shi’ite Clash: I Escaped Death Narrowly – Buratai
The chief of army staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, yesterday narrated his ordeal during a confrontation with members of the Shi’ite sect, saying he escaped assassination by the whisker.
The army chief also faulted the claim that members of the Shi’ite group were not armed, saying that heavily armed members of the group approached his convoy violently.
The convoy of the army chief was reportedly attacked last Saturday by members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in Zaria, Kaduna State.
Buratai, who gave his own side of the story while addressing journalists at the National Assembly complex after attending an interactive meeting convened by the Senate Committee on Defence for service chiefs, said it was by divine intervention that he escaped being assassinated by the Shi’ite group last Saturday.
“You want to know how I escaped? It was by the will of God that I was able to escape from the place. I think NTA was there and they aired the clip; it was very clear. They were violent and the clip is there”, the army chief said, even as he insisted that the group was heavily armed.
He also cautioned Nigerians to be law abiding wherever they are.
Meanwhile, the federal government has earmarked N10.6billion to pay as compensation for various courts judgements against the ministry of defence.
Permanent secretary in the ministry, Alhaji Samaila Aliyu, who gave the hint, said the said money was expected to be paid as compensation has been included in the next year’s budget.
Aliyu, who accompanied the minister of defence and all the Service Chiefs to the meeting with the Senate at the National Assembly, said, “We have judgements that have been delivered against us. Some have gone up to the Supreme Court. One is for N8.5billion and the other is for N2.1billion. We have backed the request with the judgements.”
He, however, assured the committee that if the proposal was approved by the National Assembly, the ministry would ensure transparency and accountability in the disbursement of the money.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Ahmed Lawan, told the ministry that the Senate was interested in the details of funds used for purchase of equipment by the military.
“We should have the necessary information and we are particularly glad that equipment supply has improved, but so many allegations have been established about the arms scandal; perhaps at the end of the day Nigeria will be better when the issues are sorted out,” he noted.
Demanding for the performance of the 2015 budget by the ministry and its agencies, Lawan said, “That will form the basis in which we will work on the 2016 budget”.
He expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of the joint task force in the Niger Delta region where about 400,000 barrels of oil is being stolen per day.
“Those arrested over the years need to be known and crude recovered from bunkers should be made available. We do not know if the bunkerers were prosecuted and if the oil was recovered,” Lawan said.
“We want to reduce it to a tolerable level so that it doesn’t harm our economy. You can rely on us but only transparency will ensure the relationship and I am sure it will not be a difficult thing to do because Buhari believes in accountability and transparency.”
172 corpses deposited at ABUTH
Meanwhile, a source at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Shika, Zaria, confirmed to LEADERSHIP yesterday that “172 corpses have been deposited at ABU Teaching Hospital today (yesterday) morning, and more are being brought in.”
When contacted, the chief medical director of the ABUTH, Professor Lawal Khalid, confirmed that there were many dead civilian bodies brought to the hospital’s mortuary.
However, the Shi’ite spokesman claims that the number of casualties arising from the clash with the army had risen to about 1,000.
President of media forum of the Islamic Movement, Mallam Ibrahim Musa, in a statement claimed that 1,000 members of the Movement had been confirmed dead at the moment “as counting continues, as soldiers evacuated some dead bodies to unknown destination.”
…Shiite Confirms Zakzaky Arrest
The group also confirmed the arrest of its leader, Ibraheem Zakzaky, yesterday morning by the Army. He was said to be wounded.
“We can confirm that the Army has taken the revered leader of the Movement, Sayyid Ibraheem Zakzaky from his house this morning (yesterday) and is receiving treatment for injuries he su
Probe Military, Shi’ite Clash In Zaria – Sultan Tells Buhari
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately constitute a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to look into the ongoing outbreak of violence between the army and the Shi’ite Islamic Movement of Nigeria led by Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, in Zaria, Kaduna State.
A statement signed by secretary-general of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, noted that at a time Nigeria is facing serious problems, the least expected of it is a conflict between the military and Shi’ites.
The statement reads, “While there are claims and counter-claims on what actually precipitated the latest heart-rending incident the NSCIA urges the authorities to exercise restraint.
“The history of the circumstances that engendered the outbreak of militant insurgency in the past, with cataclysmic consequences that Nigeria is yet to recover from, should not be allowed to repeat itself.
“We urge the federal government to immediately constitute a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to thoroughly unravel the immediate and remote causes of the current mayhem. Besides, the Commission should also investigate the past incidents involving the Movement so that justice can be done.”
It further stated that the sanctity of human life is inviolable in Islam and painstaking efforts should be made at all times to prevent bloodshed.
Shi’ite Saga: FG Responsible For Safety Of El-Zakzaky
The Iranian government has said that Nigerian government is responsible for the safety of prominent Shi’ite leader, Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky.
Iran’s deputy head of Supreme Leader’s Office for International Affairs, Hojjatoleslam Mohsen Qomi, made the remarks while touring the Islamic Republic News Agency in Tehran, Iran.
“Regretfully, in recent days we see a suspicious episode is taking place in Nigeria and the Israeli regime is likely to be clandestinely involved,” he said.
Meanwhile, the country’s foreign ministry has summoned Nigerian charge d’affaires to protest the invasion of a Shi’ite site in Zaria by the army which left many sect members dead and wounded.
Shi’ite: Army Writes NHRC Over Zaria Killing
The Nigerian Army has written to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) over the killing of members of the Shi’ite sect in Zaria last weekend.
The chief of army staff (COAS), represented by Major General Adamu Abubakar, who presented a petition to the executive secretary of the commission, Professor Bem Angwe, said the army had contacted the Shi’ite Muslim group nationwide to inform it that that it (army) was not against the sect.
According to him, the Nigerian Army was only forced to respond to the brutal attack by “misguided elements amongst them.”
He explained that the COAS was on his way to pay homage to the Emir of Zazzau before proceeding to the military depot to attend the passing-out parade of 73 regular recruit intake “when on sighting the chief of army staff’s convoy , heavily armed sect members, numbering over 500, rushed out and barricaded the Zaria Polo/Golf road with heavy stones, logs, tyres and bonfires in the vicinity of their supposed shrine.”
The group, which was under the leadership of Ibrahim Yaqoub El ZakZakky, according to him, refused to listen to any appeal and warning made to them, instead “they became more emboldened and demanded martyrdom with gunshots and pelting the convoy with whatever was available to them.”
Abubakar said the action of the sect left the army with no choice “than to take necessary actions in line with Nigerian Army rules of engagement to clear the attack and extricate the entire convoy.”
On his part, Prof Angwe said the commission would probe the incident and ensure justice in the matter.