The Chief Of Army Staff has recounted how his convoy was allegedly attacked by Shi’ite Protesters in Zaria, Kaduna. The Army Chief said his Convoy was attacked despite pleas by a detachment of soldiers for the sect members to remove the blockade they mounted on the highway.
He added that it was after the refusal of the Shi’ite sect members to clear the road despite their pleas that they tried to force their way out, resulting to the loss of many lives as the soldiers reportedly opened fire on them.
He said: “You want to know how I escaped? It was by the will of God that I was able to escape from that place”.
“I think NTA was there and they aired the clip, it was very clear. They were violent. Definitely this is very clear. The clips are there. That was what happened.”
The Army chief was speaking with journalists during an interview after he appeared alongside other service chiefs before the Senate Committee on Defence in the National Assembly Complex. The Minister of Defence, Brigadier-General Muhammad Dan-Ali (rtd),also said the federal government had commenced investigation into the matter.
In another press conference on the issue yesterday evening, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Maj-Gen. Adeniyi Oyebade, confirmed that the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zazaky and his wife were being detained at a military facility in Kaduna.
“El-Zalzaky and wife are in safe custody in a save military facility here and in due time he will speak to his members”
Maj-Gen. Adeniyi Oyebade disclosed that army also suffered casualties in the melee, adding that the casualty figure(s) were still being collated, denying allegations that the army refused to allow members of the sect to carry corpses of their dead members for burial. He also maintained that the army acted with the rules of engagement, said the army had no option than to protect the Gen. Buratai.
The GOC noted that the army had to return fire-for-fire to protect the COAS or anybody in their protective custody. Oyebade said both the army and the sect suffered casualties in the incident.
In a statement yesterday in Kaduna, President of the Media Forum of the Movement, Mallam Ibrahim Musa, claimed that the army “is at present dressing corpses of members of the Movement with military attire and snapping still pictures to probably display them as soldiers killed by the movement during the attack as a means of propaganda, whereas it was solely an attack by the army on unarmed citizens.”
The sect also alleged that soldiers were busy evacuating the corpses of members of the sect killed during the incident to unknown destination in order to cover up for the alleged genocide.
The statement disclosed that apart from the about 1,000 people that were killed by soldiers, hundreds of other members of the sect who sustained various degrees of injuries from gunshots and needed of medical attention, were being denied access to medical facilities.
“The army has also stationed road blocks in Zaria picking out innocent unarmed people that look like members of the Movement and killing them in cold blood”.
“Even today they put an army road block in Zaria to Kaduna highway near Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, searching for suspected member of the Islamic Movement. The most weired of many of such cases is that of an army road block at Dogarawa near Zaria where they killed 30 of our members travelling to Zaria on Sunday”.
“We wish to state here that some of those earlier declared dead through various sources might not have been killed but might be severely injured and in need of assistance.”
“A source has confirmed that the Army has taken the revered leader of the Movement, Sayyid Ibraheem Zakzaky, from his house this morning and is receiving treatment for injuries he sustained during the attack” declaring that they should be allowed immediate access to their leader as a means of taming the situation from aggravating unnecessarily”
“We believe that the army is clearing the corpses to unknown locations for mass burial to cover up for it’s crime. We hereby demand unequivocally that they should release the corpses to us, so that we can give them a proper Islamic burial”.
“The people they killed are not foreigners, they are citizens with their relatives known”.
“The army should stop the unnecessary stage management of the whole incident making it look like what it is not through false and provocative press statements, incitement and ground activities which might not augur well for everyone”
Omolara Adegoke- Abuja
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