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.
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.
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.
Acts that subject citizens to hardship, delays, threats and disruption of public peace 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.