• N/Assembly sets up committee, to meet Buratai
• Army hands over 220 sect members to police

The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the National Assembly yesterday demanded an immediate probe into last weekend’s bloody clashes between the army and members of the Shi’ite sect in Zaria, Kaduna State.

The Islamic council at the end of its 5th emergency Expanded General Purpose Committee (EGPC) meeting in Abuja yesterday presided over by the Sultan of Sokoto and President of the organisation, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, condemned the crisis and called for cessation of hostilities.

The outcome of the meeting was announced by the Secretary-General of the council, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, who told newsmen that a seven-man contact committee had been set up on the crisis.

“We expressed concern about what is happening in Zaria and called for restraint on the part of all stakeholders in the interest of peace and security.

“The council also decided that an impartial and independent judicial commission of inquiry be set up to include, for credibility sake, all stakeholders including the NSCIA and if possible members of the groups concerned should also be represented on the commission so that whatever you come out with will be seen as credible and impartial,” Oloyede said.

He said the meeting also called for caution and urged everyone to await the report of the enquiry.

He added: “The council also decided that the Friday Jumat prayers be utilized to call on all Muslims for prayers for this country and caution on the part of all persons including the aggrieved. And we call on the government and citizens of this country that the best way to solve grievances or infractions is to follow the rule of law.

“We should always seek the rule of law as a solution to any problem we have rather than self-help either on the government or on the part of the citizenry.”

The president of the Muslim Ummah of South-west Nigeria (MUSWEN), Prof. Daud Noibi, is the chairman of the committee while Musemil Hanga, retired Police Commissioner Abubakar Tsav, Prof. Ibrahim Sulaiman, Yusuf Ali (SAN), Ustaz Abubakr Sideeq and Prof. Ishaq Oloyede are members.

Daily Trust reports that the meeting resolved that no one should discuss its meeting outside as tempers were high and there were sharp disagreements due to the modalities to be employed to deal with the crisis.

There was also disagreement on who is to blame for the crisis, especially when some participants at the meeting were contributing and submitting eye- witness accounts of the incidents.

Former Head of Service of the Federation Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, former Kano Governor Ibrahim Shekarau among other dignitaries were at the meeting.

Sect makes demands
Meanwhile, the president, Media Forum of the Islamic Movement, Ibrahim Musa, also yesterday on behalf of the sect, demanded a high powered investigative panel headed by a high ranking officer whose members should include human rights organisations and other highly respected elders of the country.

He said the sect had no confidence in the mandate to the Area Commander of the police in Zaria to investigate and report to the presidency what happened on Saturday.

“We hereby unequivocally state that we don’t have confidence in the panel headed by the AC for the following reasons: First, the AC being of a junior rank compared to the perpetrators of the attack on our members might not do justice to the issue, as it involves high ranking officers of the rank of Lt. General. Secondly, when Dambazau visited Zaria, we were not even considered worth visiting or our members who are languishing at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital”, he said.

He alleged that the army authorities had evacuated the corpses deposited at the morgue of Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital and buried them in mass graves and demanded the location of the mass graves and interrogation of those who ordered the operation.

CAN urges Buhari to intervene
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and probe the killings to avoid escalation of the crisis.

CAN national secretary, Musa Asake, said although the body would not pre-empt any action to be taken by the government and the Nigerian Army, it would sue for peace between the two contending parties. It demanded the setting up of a judicial panel of inquiry to establish the cause of the crisis and prevent a reoccurrence. It drew the president’s attention to the fact that similar circumstances as this led to the escalation of belligerence from the Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād, also known as Boko Haram”.

Army rescues 220 Shiites from pit
The Nigerian Army has rescued about 220 members of the Shiites from the sewage pit of their centre, Hussainiyya, located at the Sokoto road in Zaria.

Checks by our correspondent revealed that some members of the group took cover inside the pit when soldiers stormed the place.

Those rescued were handed over to the police in Zaria for further action, according to a reliable security source.
Attempts to get the response of the police at the time of filing this report were futile. The Area Commander in charge of Zaria, Muhammad D. Shehu and Kaduna State police spokesman, Abubakar Zubairu, did not answer calls put through to their lines by our correspondent.

However, in a phone interview with journalists in Zaria, Malam Ibrahim Musa, President of Media Forum of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, said over 220 of their members were rescued from different flash points in Zaria.

He said; “As at yesterday (Tuesday) about 174 of our members were recovered and released by the police in Zaria, while six others were released this morning (yesterday). About 40 others were also recovered. We are grateful to God Almighty that these people are still alive and have been rescued and released.” he said.

Musa, however, said about 170 of their members were arrested on Tuesday and were still under police detention in Kaduna.

“I want to appeal to concerned authorities to order for the immediate release of our members under detention in Kaduna. Similarly, we are not happy with the mass burial given to corpses of our members at
Shika (ABUTH). This is against Islamic rites, because these people have their relations alive, why giving them mass burial?”, he said.

Senate sets up committee on killings
The Senate yesterday constituted an ad-hoc committee to investigate the killings. The issue was discussed at a closed door session of the senate that lasted for about 90 minutes yesterday.

Disclosing the outcome, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, announced the constitution of the committee with Senator Ahmed Lawan ( APC Yobe North) as chairman.

He listed other members to include the chairmen and vice chairmen of the Senate committees on Defence, Judiciary, Army, Police Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and National Security, Internal Affairs and Army.

He said the senate unanimously resolved to investigate the incident following the debate on the issue. Also after the plenary, the spokeman of the Senate, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said the senate deeply and sincerely regretted the loss of lives and property in the Zaria incident and appealed for calm by all affected parties and the general public while the investigation is carried out.

Reps to meet Buratai, others
The House of Representatives has directed two of its committees to meet with top officials of security agencies in the country including Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, over the killings.

A statement by the House spokesman, Rep Abdulrazak Sa’ad Namdas (APC, Adamawa) said the two committees were expected to uncover the cause of the clash with a view to finding lasting solutions.

Although Namdas did not disclose names of the committee members, it was gathered that they are those of defence and army.

He said in the statement that Speaker Yakubu Dogara urged the committees “to do a thorough job considering the sensitive nature of the matter and security situation in the country at the moment.”

He said Dogara further urged Nigerians to be calm and peaceful, stressing that the House would be alive to its responsibilities, adding that Nigerians would be fully briefed in due course when the committees conclude their assignments.

US envoy urges probe
The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, James F. Entwistle, yesterday said the confrontation between the Shiite sect and the military should be investigated.

The ambassador spoke in Calabar after touring national parks in the state and other forest conservative projects where he praised actions taken to boost forestry and spoke at length on climate change and global warming.

He said the country should always envisage potential security threats and address them before much havoc is done.
Commending Nigeria in her stride to contain the Boko Haram insurgency, the ambassador said his country would continue to give commensurate support to help Nigeria defeat the violent group.

He said: “The Zaria incident few days ago where many lives were lost is very unfortunate. You are aware that in recent times there were such unfortunate violent incidents in my country. We see it as a big issue. I would say Nigeria needs to do transparent investigation over the Zaria incident. After this, the authorities can then decide on the next appropriate action. I’m glad yet that action is being stepped up in this regard.”

El-Rufai: I’m in touch with FG
Governor Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State yesterday assured traditional rulers in the state that he was in touch with the federal government over the weekend bloody clash between the army and members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.

The governor gave the assurance at a meeting with traditional rulers and 23 interim council chairmen in the state at the State House in Kaduna.

He later proceeded to Zaria on an assessment visit of the affected areas immediately after the meeting.
The governor was accompanied by top government officials.

Places visited included the residence of the sect’s leader, Sheik Ibraheem El Zakzaky at Gyallesu, the sect’s coordinating centre at Hussainiya and the resource centre and cemetery in Dambo village, a suburb of Zaria.
El-rufai had earlier at the meeting with the traditional rulers called on for peace.

The Emir of Zazzau, Dr.Shehu Idris, commended the governor and security agencies for maintaining peace in the state, saying the traditional institution would continue to assist government in bringing permanent peace to the state.

Kukah urges quick action
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto and founder, The Kukah Centre, Rev. Mathew Hassan Kukah, has appealed to both parties to sheath their swords, calling on the federal government to act quickly to stop any further violence.

Kukah who spoke yesterday in Abuja at the inaugural forum on Religion and Social Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa organised by the centre in partnership with the Department of Intercultural Theology, DePaul University, USA
said religion is not responsible for violence though people stand on its platform to perpetrate violence.

“Religion is really not the cause of violence it is the social and economic malfunctioning in the system that enable religion to be used as a trigger. What we can do is to provide a platform for aggregation of voices for what government can do. The challenge is to distant religion from politics to do its work as source of moral instrument and encouragement.

“The best we can do is to sue for calm, what we are dealing with is that there is a lot of stress in the society”, he said.

Originally published on dailytrust.com.ng

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