Confusion and pandemonium tends to be trailing the Zaria bloodbath which went down in Kaduna State on Saturday, December 12.
There is a brewing controversy over the number of casualties recorded in the bloody clash.
While the Shiite sect is insisting that no fewer than 800 bodies of its members were deposited at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, authorities at the hospital have said only 60 bodies were brought to the morgue.
The hospital source said 28 other members of the Islamic sect, who suffered various degrees of injuries, were also brought in for treatment.
According to Premium Times, Prof Lawal Khalid, the chief medical director of the hospital, said: “I can only confirm to you that 28 injured people from the incident are at the Accident and Emergency Care Unit and about 60 bodies at the mortuary, but I don’t have details of the names of both casualties and the injured.”
A spokesman for the Shi’ite Movement of Nigeria, Ibrahim Musa, said on Monday, December 14, that 87 women were among the dead.
“Report reaching us from the hospital revealed that 800 dead bodies were evacuated from the residence of the Leader of the Movement and Hussainiyya, the Secretariat of the Movement, and deposited at the mortuary of Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria.
“We call on international human right agencies to compel the federal government to hand over our captured leader who was seriously wounded by the Army as a result of gunshot on him to give him adequate Medical treatment themselves after the killing of his wife,” Musa said.
The Inconsistent Stories
At this time, the exact number of casualty is difficult to independently verify, as a source of Sahara Reporters claimed that the casualty figure had risen beyond 100 in all the locations raided by the military.
The initial reports were also inconsistent. SB Morgen reports that the alleged assassination attempt was placed on the road in front of the sect’s Baqiyya headquarters.
It was gathered that the road, which is the only artery out of Zaria towards Sokoto, was reportedly overwhelmed by the Shi’ite officers in the army chief’s convoy came down to negotiate a passage, but were unsuccessful.
The army claim that General Burutai, the chief of army staff (COAS), himself then alighted from his vehicle to negotiate passage, and this was when the alleged stoning and murder attempt began.
The Shi’ites apparently did not budge and the military opened fire to cover their principal, and afterwards fled the scene.
Latter reports had it that over the following two days, the army went after Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, the leader of the Shi’ites, at his residence.
Sources say there were gunshots and explosions through the day, and night, and by the end of Sunday, December 13, reports came through that Muhammad Turi, Zakzaky’s deputy, was killed. Also reported were the deaths of Zakzaky’s wife, a son, and some other senior members of the group.
By the end of Sunday there were claims that almost 200 corpses were deposited at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital’s Shika morgue.
According to some sources, the Nigerian army was forced to tackle the problem of the Shiites once and for all, due to the fact that the group poses a latent threat to the stability of the region.
Security reports reveal that the Shiites have consistently defied constituted authority, with police and other security agencies too scared to engage the sect in a confrontation.
There has been speculation that the Shiite sect and Boko Haram might be in some kind of alliance though the latter has denounced the members of the Sufi, Shiite, and Izala sects as infidels.
It would be recalled that after two alleged suicide bombers attacked Shia Muslims on procession in the village of Dakasoye, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky absorbed Boko Haram of the hideous crime, saying the jihadists had no hand in the blast.
Sheikh Zakzaky said the Department of State Service (DSS) were the real culprits of the attack which took place at Garun Mallam local government area of Kano on Friday, November 27.
The Muslim cleric said that the DSS had foreknowledge of the attack, and were only using Boko Haram as a cover up story.
The Shiites’ spokesman has threatened that if the government failed to listen, the sect might take legal action to seek redress.
The term legal might seem like the feud will be let for justice to take its due course, however, one must take into cognizance that this is not the first time in which such a clash has happened.
If by any chance the sect feels that they have been pushed to the wall, then one might fear that a retaliation might be in motion.
Some have reported that normalcy is gradually returning to the troubled city, as certain government offices, markets, shops and other commercial activities have resumed. However, all banks in the city are still closed, the tension still lingers thick in the air.
Iran is enraged over the bloody clash between the Nigerian army and members of the Shiite sect.
Following the bloodbath, the Iranian government has summoned Nigeria’s charge d’affaires, demanding that the Nigerian government “immediately sheds light on the incident, treats the injured, and compensate for damages”.
Shiite clerics from Iraq have blasted the Nigerian army for attacking unarmed supporters of Sheikh al-Zakzaky “just because they are opponents”.
They have called the bloodbath an “aggression”, and wondered: “Where is the freedom and democracy?” Hence, they have called for a nationwide protest.
Reports just coming from Kaduna has it that the sound of heavy gunfire can be heard at Tudun area of the state. Distubing reports from Kano, Bauchi and Kebbi states emerged as well.
The question remains, with all the protests by pro-Biafra groups in the southeast, insurgency in the northeast and the Fulani herdsmen wrecking havoc in the centre; does Nigeria really need a face-off with the Shiites?