Sahara Reporters, August 10, 2014
More than 35 Shiites, including the sheik’s three sons, were killed by soldiers in a series of attacks the sect said were unprovoked and unjustified.
Members of the sect were carrying out a peaceful march to exhibit solidarity with the Palestinian people when Nigerian troops reportedly attacked them, killing men, women and children, including a nursing mother and her baby.
Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, the spiritual leader of a Shiite Islamic sect whose members were recently shot dead by Nigerian soldiers, has accused a Nigerian army officer of fabricating a security report in order to justify the killings.
More than 35 Shiites, including the sheik’s three sons, were killed by soldiers in a series of attacks the sect said were unprovoked and unjustified. Members of the sect were carrying out a peaceful march to exhibit solidarity with the Palestinian people when Nigerian troops reportedly attacked them, killing men, women and children, including a nursing mother and her baby.
In a statement obtained by SaharaReporters on Sunday, August 10, 14, Sheik Zakzaky described the ostensible army report as not only misleading but also a misrepresentation and cheap blackmail.
“In a bid to cover up the crime committed by the Nigerian soldiers on peaceful Quds Day Procession in Zaria in which the soldiers, under Lieutenant Colonel S.O. Okuh, killed over 35 people, the Depot HQ of [the] Nigerian Army sent a memo to the Nigerian Army HQ DIV1, on the Quds Day crime, with a copy sent to the office of Chief of Army Staff (COAS).
“The memo signed by Brigadier General B.A. Fiboiumama with Special SITREP No 04/14 and with title ‘Religious Disturbance’ states that:
‘AT ABOUT 251545A July 14 A ZARIA-BASED ISLAMIC CLERIC AND LDR OF SHIITE SHEIK EL ZAKZAKI AND HIS FOLLOWERS UNLAWFULLY ENGAGED IN AN ACT OF CIVIL DISTURBANCE WHILE PROTESTING ONGOING CONFLICT BETWEEN STATE OF ISRAEL AND PALESTINE. THE SECT MEMBERS ARMED WITH DANGEROUS WPNS ATTK INNOCENT CIVS INCL SLDRS OF 11 FER. SECT MEMBERS ALSO ATTEMPTED TO DISARM SOME OF THE SLDRS. TPS ON GRD RESPONDED IN SELF-DEF AND ENGAGED THEM IN EXCHANGE OF GUN FIRE. REINFORCEMENT SENT BY DEPOT NA IMM. SIT. ENFORCE. KIA 10. WIA 2. PW13. 1 X AMB CAPTURED. OWN FORCE KIA NIL. WIA. NIL. OWN EQPT CAS. NIL OWN TPS STILL DOMINATING THE AREA. SIT UNDER CONTROL. PROGRESS RPT TO FOL ASP. TPS MORALE AND ALERTNESS REMAIN HIGH. PLS ACK////"Describing the report as false, the sheik said, “From the above memo one can deduce that Depot HQ covered up the crime committed by the Nigerian soldiers in Zaria where they attacked and killed over 33 people during Quds Day Procession—a procession which has been taking place in Zaria and other cities for 32 consecutive years peacefully. The Army Depot accused whom they called ‘Shiites’ of civil disturbance—an accusation which is baseless for obvious reasons.
“The worst is the accusation that the ‘Shiites’ were carrying dangerous weapons and attacked civilians and even soldiers; they attempted to disarm some of the soldiers and the soldiers responded in self-defense by engaging them in exchange of gunfire! This type of allegation is the most unfortunate from the Nigerian Army. We think setting up an independent body to investigate the matter would be the best option. What is clear is that crimes against humanity and extra-judicial killings by the Nigerian soldiers [were] even recently labeled against [the] Nigerian Army by Amnesty International.”