In an exclusive interview with Pulse, Ahmad Yahaya, one of the Shiite members who narrowly escaped death during the clash with the Army gives his account of events.
The story of the December 2015 clash between the Nigeria Army and the Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria is still evolving.
One of the victims, Ahmad Yahaya who narrowly escaped dead during the clash, told Pulse exclusively that he still carries bullets from the incidence.
While narrating how the incident all started, Yahaya said the soldiers started gathering within the premises of Husainiyya Mosque in the morning even before the arrival of the Army Chief, Tukur Buratai.
According to him, it was the day the movement were celebrating changing of flags. He said he managed to leave the mosque for a hostel because he was a student.
Yahaya said that even when he ran to a hostel belonging to the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), where he is an MSc student, he was still hearing loud sound of explosives.
Ahmad Yahaya said after communicating with his uncle throughout the night, he returned early in the morning to the house of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El- Zakzaky because the movement believes in protecting their leader.
Yahaya seems to have been lucky after surviving gunshots. But he claims four of his brothers and his uncle killed who he had communicated with at night were killed.
Yahaya’s tale pictures the agony suffered by some members of the Shiite movement in Zaira, Kaduna State during their clash with the military.
Even though Kaduna State government has setup a judicial commission of enquiry to look into the matter and investigate, the Shiite Movement has declined to participate, insisting they will only take part if their leader is released.
“We have this belief of protecting our leader and many of us were caught there. We thank God that some of us survived to tell the story” Yahaya told Pulse.
“The military men were just killing both men and women including children. We were just close to Sheik house when I separated with my brothers. I was shot. As I am talking to you, I am still carrying about four bullets in my body. Some of the bullets have been removed but I am still carrying some”
“When I was shot, I rushed to the Islamic Movement Medical Association’s Centre which was just at the back of Sheik house. Before I reached there, soldiers were already killing the people” Yahaya said.
“My mum was also shot but not directly. She has over 9 bullets in her body. The attack took about 40 hours. This left us with so many bullets wounds” he said.
Yahaya who admitted there were confrontation between members of the movement and the Nigerian Army even before Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai came close to the Husainiyya Mosque said that contrary to reports, their members were not in possession of guns.
“If we had guns how come more than a thousand people were killed from the Islamic movement side and no soldier was hurt? Just think about that. If they called it a clash, how comes thousands of our members were killed but none of the soldiers was harmed?”
“Up to this moment, the military has no injured person. Of course, the natural instinct is that even a cat, if you push it to the wall, it would react. Our members were just throwing stones” Yahaya added.
On speculations that Iran is the backbone of the Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria and allegation that the Shiite group in Nigeria receives financial support from Iran, some Shiite members have denied such allegation.
“Iran is like a centre for Shiite where we go to perform pilgrimage. Iran is concern with our conditions because we are brothers. People are just saying that we received funding from Iran. Who is leading the government? Everybody knows that some Muslim sect in this country are been sponsored from Saudi Arabia.
Let me tell you, some people are just afraid of the momentum the sect is gaining and they feel someday, Shiite may take over the government. But that is their feeling. We are law abiding citizens” Yahaya said.
The Nigeria military had during a petition to the National Human Rights Commission, said seven people were killed during the encounter. The Army is yet to update the number of the casualties in the attack.
“There are pictures showing how our members were buried after they dump their corpses at Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital Mortuary in Shika, Zaria. Some of our members that were detained at the military facilities said they saw how some corpses were burnt” Yahaya further disclosed.
“We are not protesting to know the whereabouts of our leader. We want his release. Our leader was shot more than 12 times but we thank God that he is still alive!” Yahaya said, adding that
“What happened was a massacre by the military because the government wanted it. Everyone knows that all Mosques and Churches are protected during programmes and that is what our members did.”
In the past, there have been several clashes between Shiite members and Nigerian forces but the December 2015 encounter is seen as the most vicious with high number of casualties.