‘Soldiers hid in sugarcane farm to kill my men’
The bodies were displayed on the floor, in wooden caskets. They were surrounded by men who two days earlier had no inkling that they could be dead. Tears and sorrow enveloped the area. Nineteen of them were ready to be buried. About sixteen others are believed to still be in the custody of the soldiers who allegedly shot them on Friday during an Islamic procession.
After the Eid prayer at the Hussainiyyah Baqiyyatullah, Zaria, their leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, spoke on what he called the “indiscriminate shooting of peaceful protesters” during the Quds Day procession in Zaria.
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.”
He argued that there was nothing like a religious group taking up arms against Nigeria “as they are trying to make us believe”.
The Shiite leader said: “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.”
As at yesterday, 16 of the shot members of the ‘Shiite’ Islamic sect had been buried. The rest is to be buried today.
El-Zakzaky said the soldiers hid inside sugarcane farm to kill members of his sect, including three of his children.
He said his members were harmless. He faulted the military’s claim on the incident.
El-Zakzaky said: “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 presently receiving medical attention, as a result of compound fracture on his leg, from the several shooting on his leg.
“Ahmad and Hameed were both students. Ahmad was reading Chemical Engineering in Shenyang University and Hameed was studying Neurological Engineering in Xian University, all in China. Ahmad is about to graduate in April and Hameed has just started.
“Ahmad only came last Saturday. These two, I believe, were murdered in cold blood because they were taken alive. And we also seem to believe that they killed them because some confirmed seeing Ahmad alive in their hospital with wound in 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”.
He also lamented that the army refused to release the bodies of his members.
“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,” he said.
The Shiite leader stressed that the incident was not a clash between his members and soldiers, saying: “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?”
Sheik El-Zakzaky also alleged that the mastermind of the killings planted plain clothes soldiers in his members’ procession.
He said: “We had noticed that they had assigned their men to join the processing 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.”
However, when asked about the sect’s next line of action, El-Zakzaky said: “We can’t say that everything is okay, because they have blocked the road to Shika. So, we cannot bring back our bodies and the injured. 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.”
Also reacting to the allegation that his members prevented a senior army officer from passing, the Sheik said: “Even if it is true that an Army officer was denied access to pass, is that enough justification to kill innocent people? We have record of good organisation but they used to infiltrate our procession to have justification of attacking us.”
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