Three feared dead in fresh Shi’ites’ clash with security men
•Human rights commission probes violence • Real reasons sect held Buratai • El-Rufai appeals for calm
AGAIN, fresh protest erupted in Kaduna metropolis by members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Shiites, just as three people allegedly died in the confrontation with armed security operatives on patrol.
The Shi’ites Islamic group was in hundreds on protest against the recent clash with soldiers in Zaria, leading to the death of their members.
The procession of the Shiites, who were seen yesterday, along Tudun Nupawa and Tudun Wada, in the suburb of Kaduna metropolis clashed with armed mobile police unit leading to the death of three people, while those who sustained injuries were rushed to hospitals.
In a related development, Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai has assured the people of adequate security, following continued protest by Shiites.
In a statement signed by his spokesman, Malam Samuel Aruwan , the governor said a situation of calm prevails in the state, with security agencies maintaining a vigilant stance.
“Zaria is peaceful and quiet. Today, an attempt to breach the peace in a part of Kaduna was swiftly contained. Soldiers and other security agents will remain on patrol overnight in Tudun Wada district in Kaduna to ensure the maintenance of order.
All residents of the state are requested to promote harmony and peaceful relations, avoid panic and shun rumours.”
Following the pandemonium, shops, business promises, markets were closed down, just as workers were seen rushing back to their places of abode in order not to be caught in the cross fire. Banks and institutions mostly along Yakubu Gowon way and Ahmadu Bello way were shut.
Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) yesterday inaugurated a special panel to investigate the remote and immediate cause of the clash between the Nigerian Army and Shiite Muslims in Zaria, which led to the death of scores of people last weekend.
In what appears a masterstroke, the Nigerian Army on Monday had stormed the NHRC to complain that the Shi’ite Muslims had violated the fundamental rights of its soldiers and officers.
According to an electronic statement released on behalf of the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Professor Ben Angwe, the panel was set up in response to the formal petition lodged by the Nigerian Army.
In a related development, the insistence of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-General Tukur Buratai to travel in his convoy through the barricade set by members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) instead of disembarking from the vehicle and trekking on foot, actually provoked last Saturday’s clash with soldiers.
Investigations by The Guardian revealed that while a similar barricade against the convoy carrying the immediate past Kaduna State governor, Alhaji Ramalan Yero forced the governor to disembark and cross the procession on foot, the Shi’ites felt slighted or defied by the refusal of the COAS to emulate Yero.
An eyewitness yesterday at Tudun Wada said, “When the Shi’ites were on protest they covered all the access roads. The armed police had to disperse the sect and the Shi’ites fought back.”
However, in a statement by the spokesman of the Islamic Movement, Mallam Ibrahim Musa yesterday, “the mobile police unit (MOPOL) attacked a peaceful protest staged by the members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria in Kaduna, killing three people on the spot, with many receiving gun shot injuries.”
According to him, “as usual with such protest conducted by the Muslim brothers, it started peacefully from Layin Kosai area of Tudun Wada Kaduna, however when it reached Tudun Nupawa near Enugu road, MOPOL, in about 5 vehicles opened fire on the protesters.”
“The placards carried by the protesters contained, “Release Sheikh Zakzaky”, “Enough is enough.” The protest was dispersed by the police by their sporadic shootings.”
Musa argued, “about nine police vehicles moved to Tudun Wada where the Markaz (Islamic Cenre) of the Muslim brothers is situated and they opened fire there”.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Interior Affairs, retired General Dambazau paid a courtesy visit to the Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai to sympathise with him over the unfortunate incident in the state as a result of soldiers/Shiites.
He later told newsmen, “I am on my way to Zaria on an assessment tour of the unfortunate incident. I decided to pay a courtesy call on the Governor first as the chief security officer of the state.”
This is just as residents of Ghellesu and nearby Tudun Wada quarters heaved sighs of relief at the demolition of the Shi’ite Shrine at Ghellesu by the soldiers.
A resident of the area, Labaran Inua, told The Guardian that prior to the demolition of the Shi’ite holy site at Ghellesu, it was always hell for the residents pointing out that the nuisance caused by the worshippers were unbearable.
“Whenever their leader, Sayyid Ibraheem Zakzaky, proclaims a meeting, the road leading to Ghellesu is usually blocked as early as 1.00am. And when the road is blocked nobody, no matter how highly placed or in whatever desperate condition, even pregnant woman or sick person is allowed to cross,” he said.
Recalling that the Shi’ites were laws unto themselves, Inua remarked that even policemen are powerless to confront the members when reports are lodged, stressing that though the soldiers must have acted on these series of ungovernable actions of the Shi’ites, the development has ushered in peace and relief to residents.
He said that when the Shi’ites succeeded in making Yero to trek on foot they exulted triumphantly pointing out that the Shi’ites do not like mixing up with unbelievers, a reason he said make them shun civil service or joining the military, police or any employment that would bring them together with ‘arini’ (unbelievers).
“Unlike the Sunni Muslim, the Shi’ites believe that the application of Islam must be total pointing out that in most cases do not feel comfortable sharing the same space with those whom they call unbelievers. All these led to the fracas with the soldiers,” he added.
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