The Nigerian Army on Saturday stated its reason for attacking members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria.
The Army had on Saturday said the group blocked the road and attempted to kill the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, in Kaduna State.
In a statement on Sunday by its spokesperson, Sani Usman, the Army described the incident as ‘most unfortunate’ but blamed the sect for blocking roads meant for the public.
“Yesterday’s incident involving clashes between detachments of the Nigerian Army, accompanying the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General TY Buratai and followers of Sheikh Ibrahim El Zak-Zaky, suspected to be members of the Shiite Sect in Zaria, leading to loss of lives as a result of the Shiite group members’ blocking roads and not allowing other passers-by to go about their lawful businesses and activities, was most unfortunate,” Mr. Usman, a Colonel, said.
“The Nigerian Constitution guarantees the rights of any group of persons and Sheikh El Zak Zaky’s followers to hold a peaceful march or procession unhindered, but it also guarantees other people’s rights of way on public highways. It is important to note that over the years this group has subjected ordinary citizens using public roads to untold hardship, delays, threats and disruption simply because they insist on using public space irrespective of inconvenience and hardship on other law abiding citizens and motorists.
This cannot be tolerated and must stop!
“As soon as order is restored to the situation in Zaria city and its environs, the police will conduct an enquiry and the public will be informed.
“In the meantime, the public is advised to go about their lawful business and report any suspicious persons or incidents to the police,” the Nigerian Army said.
Mr. Usman did not give details of the various attacks or whether Mr. Zakzaky had been arrested or not.
The Islamic Movement has said its members were unarmed and that soldiers attacked its members in three different parts of Kaduna including Mr. Zakzaky’s home.
The Shiite group said the son and wife of Mr. Zakzaky were among ‘hundreds’ of its members killed by the soldiers.