Islamic cleric and leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, has said his group would employ legitimate peaceful and legal means to challenge the killing of 35 of its members by the Nigerian military last Friday rather than resort to violence like the extremist Boko Haram sect, Premium Times reported exclusively yesterday.
He said although the group was still bitter over the incident, it had accepted the incident as a spiritual test of the group and its leader.
Mr. El-Zakzaky described Islam as a religion of peace and said being a movement of peace, his organisation would never be provoked into taking arms against the Nigerian state and its innocent citizens.
The Islamic Movement of Nigeria is far too peaceful, mature and organised to take the law into its hand to foment trouble, he said.
According to him, rather than resort to violence which could have fatal consequences on the country the group would take its case to the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, and other civl rights bodies for redress.
The organisation will also seek legal redress in court if necessary, the Islamic cleric said.
“We are very angry,” Mr. El-Zakzaky told Premium Times, in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “Thirty-five members of our organisations were murdered by the military. It was a peaceful procession but they shot at our members unprovoked.
“But in spite of the tragedy, we will remain peaceful. Islam is a religion of peace. And we are organised. We are matured, and nobody can provoke us into violence.”
Members of the sect were on a procession to mark the annual Quds day in Zaria when soldiers reportedly shot at them at the popular PZ roundabout in the city.
The crisis started when the soldiers allegedly tried to disperse the sect, which was denouncing Israeli’s attacks on Gaza.
Mr. Zakzaky’s three biological sons, Mahmud, Ahmad and Hamid as well as 32 other members of the Islamic Movement were shot dead.
Mahmud was a student of Al Mustapha University, Beirut, Ahmad a Chemical Engineering student of Shenyang University, China and Hamid an Aeronautical Engineering student of Xiang University, also in China.
A fourth son of the cleric, Ali, was shot in the leg. He survived, and is in hospital.
Mr. El-Zakzaky however told Premium Times that five days after the incident neither President Goodluck Jonathan nor agents of the Federal Government has made public statements on the matter.
He explained that his group was on a peaceful procession that day and did not in anyway provoke the soldiers.
However, Defence spokesman, Chris Olukolade, a major general, said the military would investigate the matter to establish who was wrong.
The defence spokesperson however rejected Mr. El-Zakzaky’s claim that the military and the government had not reached out to him.
When contacted, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, said it was not true that the federal government had not contacted Mr. El-Zakzaky.