The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, has said that the Nigerian Army acted within the law in the clash with the Shiite sect members in Zaria over the weekend.
Lieutenant General Buratai spoke at a meeting with officials of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs on Thursday.
He said that the incident could have been avoided if the sect members heeded earlier warnings to allow for free movement.
Infringement On National Security
The Army Chief described the action of the sect members as an infringement on national security.
So where is Zakzakky now?
Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said that the arrested Shi’ite sect leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zak-Zaky, is no longer in the custody of the Army.
The Army chief, who was responding to the request by NSCIA to meet with the sect leader, said that El-Zak-Zaky had been handed over to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.
Some officials of the Nigerian Army had over the weekend clashed with some members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, also known as Shiites, who were on procession in Zaria, Kaduna State.
After the clash that led to the death of some persons, the Army blamed the Shiites for the outcome of the incident while the Shiites have also blamed the Army authorities for the loss of lives in Zaria and called on the international community and human rights groups to probe the killings.
A spokesman for the Army Colonel Sani Usman, referred to the alleged act by the Shiites as an attempt to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff but which he escaped unhurt.
To ensure peace returns to the state, the Governor of the State, Nasir El-Rufai on Thursday banned all forms of processions and rallies.
In a state-wide broadcast on Thursday night, the State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, warned that no person or group under any guise, would be allowed to block any road, obstruct public highways, occupy public facilities or inconvenience citizens in the State.
Judicial Commission of Inquiry
The Governor while noting that citizens or groups have the freedom of movement and association, however emphasised that anybody or group that may want to embark on any procession could only do so, with the prior knowledge and protection of the police to prevent the breakdown of law and order.
Governor El-Rufai also announced that a Judicial Commission of Inquiry would be constituted in two weeks’ time to examine the immediate and remote causes of the Zaria incident, in order to assemble a factual and authoritative account that the government could study and act upon.
The governor said that the composition and terms of reference of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry would be announced within two weeks.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Nigeria has also set up a Special Investigations Panel into the clash.
It said the setting up of the panel was sequel to the complaints received from the Nigerian Army and concerned citizens on the unfortunate incident which led to the loss of lives and damage of property.
Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, has said the Nigerian military would continue to maintain one indivisible entity.
He spoke in Abuja on Thursday while receiving the Commander of the French forces in Senegal , Brigadier General Pascal Facon, at the defence headquarters.
General Olonisakin stressed that no matter the attempt of any group or persons to entrench disunity in some sections of the country, the Nigerian military “will fight to ensure one Nigeria and one destiny”.
Recently the Federal Government has faced several protests from pro-Biafra group in the south-east, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in Zaria and the Boko Haram insurgency which has claimed more than 10,000 lives and displaced over 2.2 million persons.