Sect members threaten showdown if leader is not immediately released

Giving their criteria for peace, they also demanded that copses of their members be releases for proper Islamic burial and those arrested must be freed.

Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky

Shia Islamic Movement of Nigeria otherwise referred to as 'Shiites', who clashed with the Nigerian Army on Dec. 12, in Zaria, Kaduna State, have threatened showdown if their spiritual leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky is not immediately released.

Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Friday, Dec. 18, the group's leaders lamented the killings of their members by the army, insisting over 300 of their members were massacred - with many bodies still unaccounted for.

The sect's Media Forum Secretary, Abdulmumin Giwa, and Yola leader of the movement, Abdulrahman Abubakar, told journalists that they incurred both human and material losses as a result of the clamp down on them by soldiers.

Giving their criteria for peace, they also demanded that copses of their members be  released for proper Islamic burial and those arrested must be freed.

The group said, “We ask the military to release all our arrested members.

“We ask for the army to stop molestation of our members; all corpses of our brothers and sisters killed by the army should be released for proper Islamic burial.

“We want full compensation for the lives lost as well as our properties destroyed and we want a full-scale investigation and prosecution of culprits involved in the killing of our members.”

Giwa explained that they did not plan to cause a scene with the army, stating that “On that fateful day when we were getting set to celebrate the Maulud of our holy prophet at the Husseiniyya prayer ground, the Nigerian Army came and stationed a detachment of soldiers there and the military presence created tension amongst our members. Even when the COAS came to pass, there was no incident at all. But two hours later, soldiers came back and began to open fire on our members. More than 300 people were killed there.”

He added that more deaths were recorded there when the Army went to the Gellesu residence of Zakzaky and opened fire on the members of the sect, including Zakzaky and three of his children.

"In fact the death toll was four times more than what was recorded at Husseiniyya", he said.

He claimed that most of the dead bodies were evacuated by the army and taken to unknown places.

The group's spokesmen said Zakzaky had called some of the members shortly before soldiers picked him up to tell them that he sustained bullet injuries in his eyes and in his right shoulder.

“He informed his only surviving son that he was bleeding profusely and that the corpses of his three sons: Hamad (18), Ali (16) and Humeid (13), were lying dead in front of him at the time the soldiers were shooting into his home,” said Abubakar.

The duo also denied the army's claim that members of the sect were armed during the face-off with soldiers.

“We have never been associated with any form of violence in many years of our existence. In fact, we have been rated as the highest donor to the blood bank in Nigeria,” said Giwa.

They discredited the video clips made available by the Nigerian Army showing the sect members in open confrontation with soldiers in the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, saying it was not a true reflection of what led to their members’ death.

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