El-Zakzaky… Tears of father who lost three kids
Last Friday’s alleged attacks on members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, popularly known as Shiite, by men of the Army in Zaria has come and gone, but the effect of the killings will certainly remain indelible in the heart of the leader of the movement, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, writes ABDULGAFAR ALABELEWE
He cannot just forget it in a hurry. It is a memory that will last the rest of his life. For Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, leader of the Shite movement in Nigeria, sleep has not come easy since last Friday when soldiers reportedly killed three of his children and not less than 30 members of his sect during a protest in support of Palestinians in Zaria, Kaduna State. The military has said the act was carried out in self defence.
For 34 years, El-Zakzaky held the procession and not once was anyone attacked. The 35th edition turned bloody.
His three sons were until the unfortunate incident studying in China and Lebanon. He said they were in Nigeria on vacation when their promising future was suddenly terminated.
The eldest among them, Ahmad, 24, was the third son of Zakzaky and Malama Zeenatudeen. He was born in October 1990 in Zaria, Kaduna State.
He obtained his primary and secondary education in Zaria. Ahmed was a final year student of Chemical Engineering at the Shenyang University of Technology, China.
According to his father, Ahmad was to graduate by April next year and was only in Nigeria on vacation.
The Shiite leader said: “Ahmed was arrested on Friday and subsequently killed by soldiers in Zaria after the completion of the pro-Palestinian peaceful procession, called Quds Day, in solidarity with the Palestinians under Israeli occupation. Ahmad was arrested with his two other brothers: Hameed and Ali, after their brother Mahmoud was gunned down by soldiers.
“Ahmad was murdered in cold blood because he was seen alive in Basawa Barracks even though they shot him in his legs. The soldiers subsequently killed him before they took him to Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), in Shika.”
The second son allegedly killed during the procession is Hameed, a 22 years old man and fourth child of Sheikh Zakzaky and Malama Zeenatudeen.
Born in January 1992 in Zaria, Hameed attended both primary and secondary schools in the ancient Zaria city. Until his death, he was a first year undergraduate student of Aeronautical Engineering in the Xi’an University of Technology (XUT), China.
According to his father, Hameed came to Nigeria on July 19 for vacation, five days before he was killed.
“He was arrested by soldiers together with his brothers Ahmad and Ali after the completion of the pro-Palestinian peaceful procession at PZ Junction, Zaria on Friday, he was subsequently murdered by soldiers on Friday evening and his body was deposited at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital Shika, Zaria,” says Zakzaky.
Mahmoud, 19, was the sixth child of Sheikh Zakzaky and Malama Zeenatudeen and the third that was allegedly killed by soldiers.
He was born in 1995 in Zaria and had his primary and post-primary education there before proceeding to Al-Mustapha International University in Beirut, Lebanon, where he was studying until his death.
Mahmoud, according to The Nation‘s investigation, also came back to Nigeria at the beginning of Ramadan for vacation.
He was shot, according to his father, by soldiers at the end of a pro-Palestinian peaceful procession held in Zaria. Mahmoud was shot in his stomach.
“After the soldiers shot him, we tried to take him to a hospital but the soldiers blocked the roads. That was how he bled to death,” Sheikh Zakzaky said.
The Nation gathered that another son of the Sheik, Ali Ibrahim, was also arrested alongside Ahmad and Hameed, and “had his two limbs fractured by the soldiers’ gunshots”.
As at the time of filing this report, he was said to be receiving treatment at ABUTH, Shika.
After the Eid prayer at the Hussainiyyah Baqiyyatullah, Zaria on Sunday, Sheikh El-Zakzaky described the incident as the “indiscriminate shooting of peaceful protesters”.
The Shi’te leader said the military targeted his sons.
He said: “There is nothing like Boko Haram killing people; we cannot be fooled. Those in authority are the sole authors of the atrocities.
“On our own part, they came in broad day light in their military uniforms, fully armed with military inscriptions on their vehicles and committed arson and murder. From this you will understand those killing innocent citizens either in Birnin Gwari forest or Zamfara and other places.
“It is unbelievable that sporadic killings were going with a democratically elected government assuming ignorance of the issue and lacks control. There is nothing like Boko Haram killing people, we cannot be fooled. Those in authority are the sole authors of the atrocities.
“The celebration of the Quds Day is a celebration that is observed all over the world. In the last 35 years in Nigeria, yesterday’s (Friday’s) event was the 32nd. It means that for the past 32 years we have been observing the day in solidarity with the Palestinian people, which comes up on the last Friday in every month of Ramadan.
“This day is even observed in Washington, New York and Beijing. In Nigeria, we have been observing it, at least, in 22 cities, including Zaria, Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguri, Bauchi, Lagos, Port Harcourt, among others.
“All of a sudden, soldiers appeared from nowhere and started shooting people. Some of them coming to or going out of the procession. They continued shooting until the fall of the night. They hid inside the sugarcane farm close to the Kubanni area. They were sporadically shooting anyone passing. It could be simply anyone.
“During the shooting, they killed many people, including women and children. It was during the shooting that one of my sons, Mahmood, a student of Al-Mustapha University, Beirut, who came home at the beginning of this Ramadan for holiday, was killed. He was shot at the abdomen and was brought here and we attempted to take him to the hospital but along the road he bled to death.
“Also, they arrested some people and three of my children were among, Ahmad, Hameed and Ali. They were taken alive and well. But after liaison with some people, especially police, they told us that they were taken to military hospital in Basawa.
“When we demanded that they should give them back to us, they said they would take them to Shika, ABUTH. Later on we came to realise that they had already killed Ahmad and Hameed, and that Ali was wounded on the leg.
“When I demanded for the release of my sons through the GOC 1 Mechanised Division, Okuh said he would release them but not alive. By Allah’s infinite mercy, Ali is alive; he saw how his brothers were brutally murdered before his eyes. He is receiving medical attention, as a result of compound fracture on his leg, from the several shooting on his leg.
“Yesterday, we had a total of 16 bodies and learnt that they have taken nine to the ABUTH, with my two children, it makes 11.
“This morning, as they were passing-by the Husainiyya, the soldiers also decided to shoot. They killed three more people and injured many. We also learnt they have taken two more bodies this morning. So far, 35 people were killed.
“Of the 35, we have 19 bodies and they have the rest. We wanted to have the funeral of all of them today, but because they have mounted a roadblock, it is not possible to collect the remaining corpses from the ABUTH.
“The police that have been helping us, yesterday called to say that it was advisable for us we leave the bodies until the soldiers are not there.
“Even today, having some patients with wounds, we went to the police to escort us to the hospital, but the Area Commander said he had been warned to take off his hands from this matter. We made some observations. This demonstration took place in different cities, but they decided to attack only Zaria. Even in Kaduna, soldiers and police escorted the procession. Therefore, these soldiers were brought from Abuja, to kill people.
“Let me disabuse your mind that, it is not the question of Shiite; it is people. Solidarity with Palestinian is not a question of belief. You don’t have to be Shiite or even Muslim to show the solidarity. It cannot be a better time than now when for 19 consecutive days Gaza has been under siege. If this solidarity is taking place all over the world, why Nigeria and Zaria, particularly, that people would be attacked?
“We had noticed that they had assigned their men to join the procession in civilian cloth. These people, whenever they saw soldiers, they started shouting, and that’s what they have been doing to us during our previous demonstrations. People who are among us obey instructions. But these soldiers in civilian uniform chased the ones in uniform to their barracks.
“They came with the gimmicks that they were our people. They used that as pretext to attack us. This morning, in the Husainiyya, when they were passing and people were shouting, and it was their people, they killed innocent people.
“Perhaps, if there is any clash, it is among them. But, as far as we know, it was the soldiers who opened fire on people passing-by in a peaceful demonstration, and that was what happened.
“I have not seen the bodies of my two sons. Mahmood is with us, but the rest we have not seen them. Similarly, Ali who has fracture on his leg, we have not seen him.”
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