Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a phone conversation with his Nigerian counterpart Godffrey Onyema voiced concern about the massacre of Muslims by the army, and urged the African country’s government to take immediate and serious action to protect the lives of the Muslim community.
During the phone conversation on Monday, Zarif expressed deep concern over the regrettable events in Zaria region, and said, “The Nigerian government is expected adopt serious and rapid action to prevent violence, create tranquility and protect the Muslims’ lives.”
Onyema, for his part, expressed the hope that tranquility would return to Zaria region as soon as possible and exacerbation of clashes and violence would be prevented through consultation among the high-ranking Nigerian officials.
The Nigerian army forces arrested Leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky on Sunday after raiding his house and killing his wife, son, assistants and tens of followers.
“The Army forces opened fire at those present in Zakzaky’s house, killing and wounding a large number of people,” a member of the UK-based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) told FNA on Sunday.
According to him, the soldiers opened fire on local residents who were trying to protect the Islamic cleric.
A local resident told FNA that Sheikh Zakzaky’s wife, Zinat Ibrahim, and his fourth son, Ali, were killed in the last raid on his house on Sunday.
Ali’s three elder brothers were all martyred by the Nigerian army in their raid on the last year’s Tasoua and Ashoura mourning ceremonies marking the martyrdom anniversary of Islam’s third Imam, Hossein Ibn-e Ali (AS). Ali was taken by plain clothes regime forces and kept in an unknown place for some time during the last year raid.
Also, eyewitnesses said that Sheikh Mahmoud Mohammad Touri and Dr. Mostafa Saeed, the Nigerian leader’s deputy and physician, respectively, as well as Osman Ibrahim and Jemi Glima were among those killed in the raid.
Witnesses also said that the army surrounded the Leader’s house after multiple raids Sunday.
“All those inside the house were killed and Sheikh Zakzaky was arrested and taken away by the soldier,” they added.
According to the locals, soldiers returned to the house and killed all those inside who had been wounded in previous raids. “No one is alive now,” they said, adding that tens of people have been killed in the army raids on the Sheikh’s house and two other religious center that started Saturday night through Sunday morning (local time).
The army raids followed its clampdown on Muslims in the country’s city of Zaria, Kaduna State, in which at least 15 people were killed and many more injured.
“At noon today (Saturday) armed soldiers were seen in the precincts of Hussainiyyah Baqiyyatullah, Zaria, where members of the Islamic Movement were to hoist flag to usher in the new month of Maulud, the birth of the Holy Prophet of Islam,” Islamic Movement Spokesman Ibrahim Usman said in a statement.
“Similar occasion was previously carried out on the same spot with free traffic flow under the supervision of the Movement’s traffic warders,” he added.
“When some brothers met the soldiers to ask for their mission, they took position and opened fire indiscriminately, killed many and took away seven of the casualties to an unknown location,” Usman said.
“Based on the foregoing, we believe that the military had pre-planned this and had acted according to their mischievous script. They came with their cameramen, videotaping the whole incidence while it lasted.”
“We are however surprised that, spokesman of the military Colonel Kuka Sheka shamelessly came out in the media and issued a press statement to say, that it was an assassination attempt on the Chief of Army Staff at the order of the movement’s leader.”
“Why was it that there were no casualties on the side of the military, if it were to be an assassination attempt? What happened was never a clash, but a continuation of act of terrorism by the Nigerian military on the Movement, as was the case in the past.”
“We are not surprised by this action, as there were reports spread by the same military the night before that the Muslims were to avenge their dead by hired thugs on Friday in Gabari, a village in Zaria.”
“The same military also spread rumors that the Muslims had killed soldiers, all in attempt to justify today’s (Saturday’s) dastardly act.”
“Kuka Sheka should know that once bitten twice shy. The 2014 massacre of 34 members of the Islamic Movement, including three of Sheikh Zakzaky’s children by the military; the attempt on Sheikh Zakzaky’s convoy by the same military are still in our minds.”
“No government can flourish successfully with disoriented military, full of trigger-itchy personnel and security operatives trained by CIA and Mossad.”
“Until the present government fishes out this cabal in the military and brings the culprits to book, we will believe the government is condoning violence and terrorism on innocent citizens.”
Also, Yusuf Abubakar, an eye witness said that “I saw two soldiers asking the Muslim members to remove the barricade but they refused only for the soldiers to open fire on them”.
“Suddenly, there was confusion everywhere. I saw more than 30 corpses on the ground before soldiers took them away.”
Another eye witness who pleaded anonymity said that “the soldiers were armed to the teeth as they came in about three Hilux vans and armored personnel carriers”.
“They were pleading with the Muslim members to clear the way for the Army Chief who was being expected.”
Yesterday’s incident is the latest in the series of clashes between security agents and members of the Islamic Movement.
In one of such encounters in July last year, three sons of El-Zakzaky were killed by soldiers.
The IHRC issued a report at the time, blaming soldiers for what it called shooting and killing of defenseless members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria between July 25 and 26.
It said that shortly after the Friday prayers on July 25, the Muslim members embarked on the traditional Al-Quds procession done in support of the Palestinian Cause following the same route it has followed in the last 33 years.
The report said 34 defenseless members of the group were murdered in cold blood as they marched through the streets of Zaria, in Kaduna State.
About 100 others were injured, it said citing interviews with victims, their families and witnesses.
The IHRC also obtained a video footage of soldiers firing at unarmed civilians at the end of the procession.
Besides, it said that it had proof that many of those arrested died in military custody, unable to withstand the brutality they were subjected to by the soldiers.
Last month, about 20 members of the Islamic Movement were blown up in a bomb attack during a procession from Kano to Zaria.
A suspected suicide bomber who pretended to be part of the procession set off a bomb at Dakasonye village in Garun Mallam Local Government of Kano State.
Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attack but El-Zakzaky said his group knew those behind the attack.
“We know the names of the contractors and those contracted to commit the massacre, their identity is not hidden from us. Therefore we cannot be cowed by an imaginary Boko Haram tale, let them tell it to the fools and the ignorant. They should know that they are dealing with those with foresight, wisdom and intelligence, and above all with the real religion,” he said.
“There is nothing like a suicide bomber. They tortured and drugged unsuspecting captives and made them carriers of the explosives which they detonated amidst people.”