Pandemonium took the air in Zaria, Kaduna State on Saturday following a clash between the entourage of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, and the Shi’tte members which resulted in the killing of not more than 10 supporters of outspoken Shi’tte leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, by the Nigerian Soldiers. This had subsequently led to war of tongues between the sect and the army, with the army claiming the sect attempted an assassination on the life of the Chief of Staff.
According to Army spokesman, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman who broke the news on Twitter, said: “Shiites attempt to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff in Zaria”.
Usman later followed it with a statement, saying: “The Shiite Sect on the orders of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky today (yesterday) in Zaria attacked the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff while on his way to pay homage on the Emir of Zazzau and attend the Passing Out Parade of 73 Regular Recruits Intake of Depot Nigerian Army, Zaria."
"The sect numbering hundreds 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 had earlier been widely publicised."
“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.”
"However, the sect has dismissed the allegation as a blatant lie, with its spokesman, Ibrahim Usman, stating that: “At noon today (yesterday) armed soldiers were seen in the precincts of Hussainiyyah Baqiyyatullah, Zaria, where members of the Islamic Movement were to carry out the hoisting of a flag to usher in the new month of Maulud, the birth of the Holy Prophet of Islam. Similar occasion was previously carried out on the same spot with free traffic flow under the supervision of the Movement’s traffic warders.
“When some brothers met the soldiers to understand the mission of the soldiers, they took position and opened fire indiscriminately, killed many and took away seven of the casualties to an unknown location.Based on the foregoing, we believe that the military had pre-planned this and had acted according to their mischievous script. They came with their cameramen, videotaping the whole incidence while it lasted."
“We are, however surprised that, spokesman of the military Colonel Kuka Sheka shamelessly came out in the media and issued a press statement to say, that it was an assassination attempt on the Chief of Army Staff on the order of the movement’s leader. Why was it that there were no casualties on the side of the military, if it were to be an assassination attempt? What happened was never a clash, but a continuation of the act of terrorism by the Nigerian military on the Movement, as was the case in the past. We are not surprised by this action, as there were reports spread by the same military the night before that the Shi’ites were to avenge their dead by hired thugs on Friday in Gabari, a village in Zaria.
“The same military also spread rumors that the Shi’ites had killed soldiers, all in an attempt to justify today’s (yesterday’s) dastardly act. Kuka Shekau should know that once bitten, twice shy. The 2014 massacre of 34 members of the Islamic Movement, including three of Sheikh Zakzaky’s children by the military; the attempt on Sheikh Zakzaky’s convoy by the same military are still on our minds."
“No government can flourish successfully with disoriented military, full of trigger-itch personnel and security operatives trained by the CIA and Mossad. Until the present government fishes out this cabal in the military and brings the culprits to book, we will believe the government is condoning, violence and terrorism on innocent citizens.”
By Temitope Bamidele