From Femi Oyelola, Kaduna
Leader of the Islamic movement in Nigeria, popularly known as Shi’ite, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky yesterday raised alarm that, the Nigerian military after allegedly killing his 33 innocent followers in Zaria at the recent Quds Day procession had again put soldiers on red alert against the group.
El-Zakzaky made the statement at the end of Nahjul Balagha study session at the Hussainiyyah Baqiyyatullah, Zaria yesterday.
One Division, Nigerian Army has however dispelled the allegation, saying there was no such directive.
According to El-Zakzaky, “The Nigerian military, after killing innocent people in Zaria at the recent Quds Day procession, are now on the defensive and therefore, spreading rumour that the “Shi’ites” was going to avenge the killing of their members.
It would be recalled that Shi’ite had alleged the Nigerian military men and officers of killing 35 people, including 3 of Sheikh Zakzaky’s sons and injured many others after the Quds Day ‘peaceful’ procession.
Sheikh Zakzaky however, said yesterday that “the military, having woefully failed in their plan, have stationed all their barracks on red alert to further unleash more violence and spill innocent blood.
“We will not be surprised if they decided to detonate bombs in their barracks, or even kill some of their own and say it is the “Shi’ites” taking revenge. They have been doing this all over in the name of Boko Haram.
“Because the military was shamed before the world, they realized that if they unleash further onslaught without justification they would be further condemned; they therefore decided to spread the rumour and as well commission a Lagos and Kaduna- based newspapers to fabricate a malicious story and attribute it to him.
“The reporter of the newspaper (not Peoples Daily) was not in existence, but given the name Shehu Dawud. Then another newspaper carried the same story, word to word, but claimed ownership of the story by its anonymous correspondent. Neither of the two newspapers stated where I made the statement. We conducted a press conference here and recorded; it was published and posted on the Internet and YouTube; how could only a Lagos-based newspaper heard what the Al-Zakzaky said?” He queried.
He however disclosed that, he had received an invitation from the committee set up by military under Colonel Benjamin to investigate what led to the “gun battle between the Shi’a sect and the Nigerian military.” The Shi’ite leader described it as ridiculous, adding that, “from this, you can see their foolishness, they have already established that it was a gun battle.”
“Shi’a is not a military group. It is a religious belief that cuts across sections of the society. I cannot comprehend soldiers fighting a religious sect; can you imagine, for instance, soldiers fighting a Christian sect? Why call us a sect? I have never believed there is a sect in religion.”, he emphasised.
Responding on behalf of the 1 Division Nigerian Army, Deputy Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Abdul Usman told this reporter on telephone that, “as far as I am concerned, I am just hearing that from you now. But I can tell you, there is no such order.”