Wife of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Zeenatudeen Ibraheem and his deputy, Muhammad Mahmud Turi were among those killed yesterday when soldiers invaded the residence of the Movement’s leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky.
Also killed were the head of the Movement’s medical team Dr. Mustapha Sa’id, Zakzaky’s son, Sayyid Alih and the spokesperson, Ibrahim Usman.
The leader of the Movement, Zakzaky was arrested by soldiers during the invasion.
Sheikh Zakzaky’s house, two of the Shi’ite centres at Sokoto Road and Dambo areas of Zaria were also reported to have been demolished by the soldiers.
Many of the cleric’s close allies and members were feared killed in a gun battle that lasted throughout Saturday night and Sunday morning.
The crisis started Saturday afternoon when the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Yusuf Tukur Buratai, was intercepted at the PZ-Samaru Road of Zaria by Shi’ite, who were preparing the commencement of Maulud (birthday celebration of Prophet Muhammad, pbuh).
The army however, through their spokesperson, Colonel Uthman Sani, said the Shi’ite had attempted to assassinate the COAS, who escaped unhurt.
The Shi’ites, on the other hand, through their spokesperson, Ibrahim Usman, denied attempting to assassinate the COAS, saying their members had only taken security measures to ensure their safety.
Following Saturday’s episode, most residents of Zaria, especially those residing in Tudun Wada, Gyellesu, Sabon Gari and Tudun Jukun, could not sleep as heavy sounds of gunshots and explosions pervaded the area. It was gathered that the heavy shots came as soldiers advanced into Gyellesu, where Sheikh Zakzaky’s house is located.
Later in the afternoon, our correspondent gathered that Sheikh Zakzaky’s house was demolished and the soldiers thereafter arrested him.
“We saw when Zakzaky’s Jeep, in company of about 20 army vehicles, moved out of Gyellesu. This was why many residents believed that he was arrested and taken to the Depot Nigerian Army barracks. Also, before the arrest, soldiers were seen evacuating students of the Ahmadu Bello University and Federal College of Education, Zaria from the Gyellesu area to their campuses.
“The soldiers had also instructed all neighbours of Zakzaky’s house to vacate their houses. After the arrest, soldiers were seen moving from one house to another looking for the Shi’ite members. It is really bad. This is why our Prophet (pbuh) directed us not to be calling for war or looking for trouble, because when trouble starts it can affect even the innocent,” a Gyellesu resident that preferred anonymity said.
Other residents interviewed by our correspondents feared that Sheikh Zakzaky might have been killed along with the members of his household and followers.
“I think the soldiers shelled the house. If that is the case, then all members of the house including other followers were killed. I think Zakzaky’s deputy, Muhammad Turi, Dr. Mustapha, leader of the group’s medical team, leader of their Hurras (guards), Zakzaky’s wife and the cleric himself were all feared killed,” another resident said.
Part of the residents claims were confirmed by a statement issued by Ibrahim Musa on behalf of the Shi’ite.
Musa, who is the group’s editor of Al-mizan newspaper, said: “Following alleged blockade of the route of the Chief of Army Staff by the members of the Movement, the Nigerian Army brutally descended on armless members of the movement with heavy military weapons killing indiscriminately.
The soldiers had, however, relaxed the restriction of movement they earlier placed on Gyellesu and the PZ-Samaru Road, where the Shi’ite centre, Hussainiyya, is located.
Residents of Gyellesu quarters were allowed to use one of the three roads that linked the area with main the road, the one behind FCE, Zaria fence, for movement in and out.
Despite the relaxation of movement restriction in Zaria, many traders in Tudun Wada and Sabon Gari main markets did not open for business. As at yesterday night, there was no report of any fresh violence.