General, The Nation

Scores Killed as COAS Escapes Assassination Attempt

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Scores of lives were lost when soldiers clashed with shi’ites who allegedly attempted to assassinate COAS, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, in Zaria yesterday. Faruk Ahmed writes

President Muhammadu Buhari decorates COAS, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai together with VP Prof Yemi Osinbajo
President Muhammadu Buhari decorates COAS, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai together with VP Prof Yemi Osinbajo

Unverified eye witnesses reports say over 12 people were killed yesterday when Shi’ite followers clashed with the men of the Nigerian Army over an attempt to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai. A statement by Acting Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman confirmed the incidence.

According to the Army spokesman, “the Shiite Sect on the orders of their leader, Ibrahim Alzak-zaky today afternoon in Zaria attacked the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff while on his way to pay homage on the Emir of Zazzau and attend the Passing Out Parade (POP) of 73 Regular Recruits Intake of Depot Nigerian Army, Zaria.”

He added that, “the sect numbering hundreds carrying dangerous weapons, barricaded the roads with bonfires, heavy stones and tyres. They refused all entreaties to disperse and then started firing and pelting the convoy with dangerous objects.”

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According to him, the troops responsible for the safety and security of the COAS on hearing the explosions and firing were left with no choice than to defend him and the convoy at all cost as well as open up the barricaded road for law abiding citizens. But he stopped short to state how the Army dispersed the barricade and casualties therein.

Muhammad Ibn Abubakar, a commentator on Facebook disagreed with the stance of the Nigerian Army. He said, “I always support our gallant soldiers, but there is no sign of truth in this claim by the Nigerian army. Is the army telling us that a mob of people will plan assassination of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) who is being guarded by well-armed soldiers, with stones and sticks? This is very fake allegation.”

Here people dodging bullet sprays
Here people dodging bullet sprays

But Abubakar Muazu Aliyu, on his part stated, “The truth is the Shias barricaded the road. The tried denying him passage to the POP using tyres while carrying weapons. So that alone can make the army claim assassination attempt because anywhere you block someone’s convoy carrying weapons is said to be assassination attempt.” And thus to him, the Shi’ites brought the killings upon themselves!

Muhammad Ibn Abubakar further cautioned that the Nigerian Army (NA) should be more prudent not to create another crisis the way the recklessly created Boko Haram insurgency in 2009 by shooting unarmed civilians taking their slain comrades to the graveyard just because they didn’t wear helmets.

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He said, “I know, it is Mallam Zakzaky’s mistakes of teaching his followers that the NA and the government is their enemy. But he can’t sit down in Zaria and order them to kill COAS in Zaria. This without doubt is false allegation. He (Zakzaky) just has wrong mentality of unnecessarily being at odds with government, but the NA should be very prudent in dealing with situation so as not to create distractions to the war on Boko Haram.”

The army spokesman concluded his statement by sternly warning that “This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated from any individual or groups and should not be allowed to repeat itself.”

Meanwhile, the leader of the movement, Ibrahim Zakzaky has denied the claim of the Nigerian Arma, saying “it was soldiers who opened fire on his members for no just cause.”

“They lied to have said we attacked them, nobody attacked them, they were the ones that first stormed our headquarters with truck full of soldiers, sealed off our headquarters on a day we were supposed to change our flag and started shooting and killing our people.”

“At noon today, armed soldiers were seen in the precincts of Hussainiyyah Baqiyyatullah, Zaria, where members of the Islamic Movement were to carry out the hoisting of flag to usher in the new month of Maulud, the birth of the Holy Prophet of Islam.

“Similar occasion was previously carried out on the same spot with free traffic flow under the supervision of the movement’s traffic warders. When some brothers met the soldiers to understand their mission, they took position and opened fire indiscriminately, killed many and took away seven of the casualties to an unknown location,” Zakzaky said.

He said that based on what transpired, the movement was of the belief that the military had pre-planned the attack on its members 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 on 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 by Kukasheka?”

He reiterated that what happened was not a clash, but a continuation of acts 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 Shi’ites were to avenge their dead by hired thugs on Friday in Gabari, a village in Zaria. The same military also spread rumour that the Shi’ites had killed soldiers, all in attempt to justify today’s dastardly act.

“Kukasheka should know that, once bitten twice shy. The 2014 massacre of 34 members of the Islamic Movement, including 3 of Sheikh Zakzaky’s children by the military; the attempt on Sheikh Zakzaky’s convoy by the same military are still on our minds,” he added.

The allegations and counter-allegations continue! But in the coming days, the truth of the matter will come out glaringly in the public for all to see.


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