A March Leading to Deaths: Nigeria Military Attacks Shia Muslims

December 23, 2015
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Nigerian military convoy was caught up in a march in Zaria, Kaduna State of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria to commemorate the prophet Mohammed’s birthday.

The convoy, which was headed by Nigerian Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, got stuck and trapped in the march. Unfortunately, after this incident, the Nigerian military sent of its military to attack a Shia Muslim group in one of the country’s northern cities over the weekend

The tragic incident happened on Saturday, December 20, when “thousands of members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, a pro-Iranian Shia group,” marched in Zaria, in Kaduna State, to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed. This religious march that caught Nigeria’s military chief in the traffic gridlock ushered in the killing numerous people.

Witness’s reports of the incident relayed that, “a metal object was thrown at the general’s vehicle by someone in the crowd”. However, the soldiers caught off guard, thought a gun was fired towards the general and mistook it as an attempt to assassinate him.
The response from the soldiers in the convoy was an automatic firing of their guns aimed at the people in the march, resulting in the killing of more than a hundred of members of the sect.

The hostilities did not end in the streets. But after reports of the rallying of the members of the Islamic group resulting from the shootings at the march, Nigerian military troops were mobilized.

According to Maj. Gen. Adeniyi Oyebade, the military troop’s targets included the group’s shrines and enclaves. It was reported that the troops “firebombed the‎ Husseiniyya, the group’s religious center, and destroyed another religious center on the outskirts of the city.”

Backed by tanks, the Nigerian troops proceeded to the abode of the group’s leader , Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky. In fear and to prevent the leader’s arrest, hundreds of Zakzaky’s followers went to the house.

Following was a night-long battle that even killed more people and demolished the home of the sect leader.

The sect claimed that the assault had killed Zakzaky’s wife. But the military denied the report saying that Zakzaky and his wife were in the military’s protective custody.

An army spokesperson had acknowledged the military’s action resulting in the the loss of many lives. However, he still put the blame on the members of the sect responsible by “blocking roads and not allowing other passers-by to go about their lawful businesses and activities.” The “incident,” according to Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman, was the “result of the Shiite group members’ unruly activities.

He said “It is important to note that over the years this group has subjected ordinary citizens using public roads to untold delays, threats and disruption simply because they insist on using public space irrespective of inconvenience and hardship on other law-abiding citizens and motorists,” Usman said. “This cannot be tolerated and must stop.”

In contrast Senator Shehu Sani, who is a senator representing Kaduna Central, criticized the military’s actions. He said what happened in Zaria was nothing but an act of brutality by the Nigerian military.” He even referred to Nigeria’s “Boko Haram” experience to prove his point.

The Senator said, “Nigeria has not learned its lessons as he relayed how Boko Haram started, with the extra-judicial killing of their leader in 2009.

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