By Ibrahim Usman
Group Chairman, Leadership Newspapers, Sam Nda Isaiah, has paid a condolence visit to Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky at his Gyellesu residence over the unfortunate killing of 33 people, including 3 children of the Sheikh during the annual Quds Day procession, Friday. The visit was very interactive.
Mr. Sam Nda Isaiah was accompanied by contingent of press men, the publisher described what happened as a national tragedy that calls for global concern and response. He explained that, the unfortunate event was openly challenged by even a non-Muslim, whom in the event lost his life while his wife is receiving treatment.
He specifically commended the exemplary and rare leadership attribute displayed by Sheikh Zakzaky in the face of the tragedy. “We commend your leadership attribute and dignity you exemplified. We wonder how many leaders could contain this and remain calm, even when they lost 3 of their children this way. We are very proud of this attribute. If leaders were like you, the world would be a better place to live”, he said.
He pointed out that, the government must see this as a challenge, stressing that they would never keep quite in the face of this atrocity, saying that it is dangerous to keep quite in this situation.
The renowned publisher therefore called on the media to press on the issue through continuous update of the situation until justice is done. “Even during the Abacha period there was right to peaceful demonstration and we said we are in a democracy. It therefore very dangerous to allow this passed on as so many have passed in this country”, he added.
Sheikh Zakzaky’s response
“Thank you very much for sympathizing along with us on this incident, executed by a unit of an army, I don’t know if I can call them Nigerian military. I was told that, on our way to the cemetery soldiers on checkpoints were saluting and expressing sympathy, saying that what happened was not in their name. What happened was executed by a special killer unit, special murder unit. I was told there were 64 of them that came from Abuja on this act of murder.
They came after the demonstration was over and people were dispersing. They started shooting indiscriminately at the people dispersing; it was not the demonstration they actually targeted but the people dispersing. Even the first among my sons to be murdered was just on his way in his mother’s car with the intention of going to convey his other brothers. He parked the car on the way. Four of my children were all taken alive. One called Ali was shot on the leg; the rest were taken alive and fully alive. Mahmoud on learning that there of his brothers were take, he decided to go with them. They waited for him to come at close range before they shot him. The doctors said, the shot was carefully targeted to ensure he bled to death, and that was what happened. The other two were murdered by them, as graphically narrated by Ali who was shot on the leg, and is still alive. It all happened before his eyes.
Majority of those they killed was not through gunfire. They first set was killed by gunshot; they had gun wounds. But the second set was all tortured to death at the barrack. Some were electrocuted, while others through torture. I can’t imagine how one can be picked on the road, taken to barracks and be tortured to death. How can this be justified? A gentleman by the name Julius Anyawu challenged them in a gentle many, asking them why they were shooting at people that had been conducting peaceful procession over the years. They shot him dead on the spot, not minding the fact that he was a 68-year-old man. Another woman, Chibuke Chibueze, came to rescue him, they shot her too. She is presently receiving treatment in the hospital. A street beggar woman was passing by; they battered her legs to the extent that a surgery was not possible. She has been amputated.
I will at this juncture want the media to be using a good language. Some of them refer to what happened as “Clash” and they use the word “Shi’ites” (to refer to us). Yes, we are Shi’ites alright, but this is not an issue of Shi’ites, it is not even an issue of religion. Solidarity with Palestinians is for all people of conscience, irrespective of their religion. If you see the pictures on the internet, there are Jews and Rabbis who do not support what Israel is doing. They have a Jewish organization in their language translated to mean, “Not in My Name”, who do not support the creation of Israel and what it is doing on Palestinian land. There were also a lot of Christians who participated in the procession globally. If you watched the vigil and protest that took place at the Nigerian embassy in London on Youtube, it consisted of people from all walks of live, who protested the killings in Nigeria. Yes, there are Shi’a and Sunnah among the Muslims, just as there are Protestants and Catholic among the Christians; there are also Jews. But the issue is not about a category or religion. This is a nation with a military unit charged with the responsibility of protecting the nation. Now it is the same military turning back, shooting ordinary people. What is religious about this? If we are Shi’ites, are they Sunnah? For the media to say, “Soldiers, Shi’ites Clash” (is misleading). How do you call this clash when people are passing and they just opened fire on them, where is the clash here? Therefore, it was a never a clash. Of course there was indiscriminate shooting, may be deliberately, shot some of their colleagues. It sometimes happened, when they have some of them have grievances amongst themselves, it could be over a woman or over a drink during party.
One lieutenant Colonel S.O. Oku, a C.O. at Basawa Barrack has killed many people with his own hands. He told the first person he killed that he was going to kill him with his own hands. He ordered that the man be carried to the barrack, and actually did that. He was also the one who fired at my elder son. We have not heard from their own side, but an eye witness told us that, a soldier cocked a gun to shoot at a teenager; the boy quickly lied down flat on the ground and threw a stone into the soldier’s eyes. Blinded and in confusion, he shot at himself on the head. There may be similar of such episodes they made not tell.
Therefore, these two words, “Clash” and “Shi’ites” ought not to appear in any media report. It is simply an issue of a unit of an army that opened fire on defenseless citizens. Of course, they may not like our religion, but it remains an issue of an army that opened fire on defenseless citizens at a demonstration that had been conducted for the past 30 years. This demonstration was the 32nd in the series that took place consecutively in Zaria. We have been doing it every year.
Thank you for sympathizing with me. For your own information, my three children were all university students. Their ages ranged from 24, 22 and 19. The 24-year-old Ahmad was Chemical Engineering at University of Xian Yen, China; Hameed was a student of Aeronautical Engineering Xian University also in China; and Mahmoud was a student of Al-Mustapha International University in Beirut, Lebanon. He was the only one reading Arabic language and Islamic studies. He was more interested to read Arabic and Islamic studies, even though he reluctantly wanted to study Information Technology, and he was very good at that.
Thank you once again for commiserating with us”.
Daily Trust Newspaper
“I would like to use this opportunity to say something about this man; Lieutenant S. O. Oku Sheikh is talking about. I am sharing this because you are a media executive and we as reporters may not have the opportunity to report some of these things. This man since he was posted to Zaria, he has been harassing people, and there are so many cases relating to this man.
Let me cite an example, there was a time Juma’at prayer was completed at Zaria Hotel mosque, and this man nearly caused chaos at that particular place. He began to intimidate people, made do frog jump that people had to react, which nearly resulted to violence. He also at one time arrested an assistant manager of an AP filling station opposite Nigeria College of Aviation and tortured him. The commandant of the Basawa Barrack had to intervene. He told the assistant manager (of the filling station) so many things I cannot narrate here. Among what he said was assigned to come here for a specific assignment.
There is also the case of four staff of the Nigeria College of Aviation arbitrarily arrested by this man with no court order, that they were Boko Haram, simply because they were having issues with the (then) Rector of the college.
As the Sheikh has raised the issue, we feel this is also an opportunity to say something on it. I hope, sir, you will give us the opportunity to expose such things. Thank you, sir”.
“This has made me to make further comment. People came from different places for the funeral of my children; and it took us through the night. For those people who went back, especially to Katsina, this man subjected them to untold and severe intimidation. Particularly the Sister, they could not describe what was done to them. He subjected them to intense scrutiny, and they endured. Maybe a little resistance would have made him open fire, but they endured it. As it was said he was on an assignment, means he was acting outside the command of the military. He is currently a Masters student, but posted here for a special assignment. As he privately told someone, he said he was posted to contain the area from here to Jaji for 2015.