The story below was published in Punch Newspapers, August 9, 2014, written by Fisayo Falodi
Some stakeholders have asked the Federal Government to constitute a panel to investigate July 25, 2014 violence in Zaria, Kaduna State, in which 35 people,
including the three sons of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, were allegedly killed by soldiers.
The stakeholders said that the army should not be allowed to investigate the incident because it could not be an umpire in a case in which it is involved.
They particularly asked the government to check arbitrary killing of innocent citizens by security personnel.
The stakeholders spoke following claims by El-Zakzaky that the Federal Government had yet to sympathise with him over his sons’ killing.
The sect leader, who alleged that his three undergraduate sons were specifically targeted by soldiers, denied that the group confronted the troops before the killing.
El-Zakzaky said he was angry over the incident, but vowed to remain peaceful.
The army, speaking through its spokesperson, Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, said the military would investigate the issue, adding that soldiers do not take delight in killing innocent people.
Describing the killing as painful, the Secretary General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, particularly said that El-Zakzaky would stand by his statement.
Oloyede, who spoke during the week with Saturday PUNCH on the telephone, said he was on his way to condole with the Sheikh.
He said, “El-Zakzaky is an upright Muslim; he must act according to the Islamic tenet. Accepting to seek redress through peaceful means is a painful thing to do.
“I personally share his pain; I have known him for 40 years and I am sure he means what he said. The Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs will want the Federal Government to set up a commission of inquiry to probe the killing. It is not enough for the army to claim that it will investigate the matter because the army cannot be an umpire in a case that involves it.
The governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, said El-Zakzaky’s anger was justified, but his decision to tow the path of peace to seek redress was commendable.
Musa said the killing had serious implication for the nation’s leaders, both political and religious.
The Christian Association of Nigeria also aligned with other stakeholders, saying the government ought to have sympathised with the bereaved Sheikh.
CAN Chairman in Osun State, Revd Elisha Ogundiya, said, “Losing three children to killing could be painful; it is not always easy to lose one’s children. Government, whether local, state or federal should have shown concern to appease the bereaved.”