The Shi’ite movement reportedly attacked the convoy of the Chief of army staff, Tukur Buratai, with sticks and stones, while the Army shot at them. The Army later went back and opened fire, levelling the Shi’ite centre. Yet, as condemnation from Nigerians over the heavy handed tactics of the military starts to spread, it is the Nigerian Army which has taken its case to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
The Army deposited a petition at the NHRC on Monday over the incident which took place at Zaria on Saturday. Maj. Gen. Adamu Abubakar submitted the petition on behalf of the chief of army staff.
The Army, in a report of what happened titled: “Occurrence report,” signed by Brig.-Gen. A. T. Hamman, attached to the petition, said only seven people died and about 10 were wounded in the attack.
The petition reads: “Despite the troops firing warning shots, the El-Zazaki’s group continued attempting to forge towards the troops. The troops immediately responded in line with the rules of engagement as the life of the VIP (COAS) was seriously threatened.
“Troops had to shoot their way through up to the Zaria Post Office area by PZ to provide a safe corridor for the COAS and the convoy to pass through before the arrival of the reinforcement from depot of the Nigeria Army. The COAS then proceeded to the Emir’s palace for the courtesy visit before moving to Depot, NA to review the 73 RRI passing out parade.
“Sequel to the above, about seven of the members of the group were shot dead and the COAS directed that the 10 wounded be evacuated to the Depot, NA Medial Centre for treatment while all exhibit items such as swords, knives, cell phones be recovered from the scene,” the report said.
“On noticing the high profile convoy, they quickly used heavy stones, logs, tyres and bonfires to block the road. All entreaties to pacify and administration of warning to the sect fell on deaf ears. On the contrary, they became more emboldened and demanded martyrdom with gun shots and pelting of the convoy with whatever was available to them.
“This left immediate security personnel of the Chief of Army Staff with no choice than to take the necessary actions in line with Nigerian Army rules of engagements to clear the attack and extricate the entire convoy.
“The sect demonstrated absolute defiance to reason, law and order before launching the attack. The COAS has instituted an investigation into the incident. Furthermore, the Shiite Muslims have been contacted nationwide to let them know that the Nigerian Army is not against them, but was forced to respond to the brutal attack by misguided elements among them.”
Responding, the NHRC’s Executive Secretary, Prof Bem Angwe, who received the petition, assured the Army that his commission will act on it.
He commended the military for realising that the country was in a democracy and that every institution must act in accordance with the law.
Angwe said his agency will investigate the petition and others to be submitted to it by the affected parties in the case before coming up with its report.
He said his NHRC has urged the Federal Government to investigate the incident.