The leader of the Shiite Moslem in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, is critically ill as a result of gun shot wounds he sustained during the siege to his home by Nigerian soldiers.
According to the spokesman for the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) Ibrahim Musa, Zakzaky is being hospitalised from gun shot wound, he told APF.
Musa also said Zakzaky had been arrested. “Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky was arrested this morning in his demolished home by soldiers where he had been holed up in a room that was spared from the fire that gutted the house from grenades,” he said.
He said the group’s leader had been unable to leave the house “because of the gunshot wounds he sustained in the indiscriminate fire soldiers opened on the house and his followers who tried to protect it,” he said.
“We gathered he was taken to Kaduna (70 kilometres away). We got in touch with the medical doctor that is treating him who confirmed to us that our leader is critically ill from four gunshot wounds he sustained,” he said. “He was shot at four times, this the doctor confirmed,” Musa told AFP.
Witnesses also spoke of soldiers removing bodies around Zakzaky’s house.
“This morning, soldiers started evacuating corpses of followers of Zakzaky in trucks for possible disposal,” a resident said.
“A large number of his followers were gunned down around his house on Saturday through Sunday morning where they had congregated to protect the house from military invasion,” Musa said.
He said soldiers had mounted security checks as residents and motorists were being searched before entering the area.
“We have reports that bodies of our members killed outside the house of our leader are being evacuated in trucks by soldiers”
The IMN, which seeks to establish an Islamic state through an Iranian-styled revolution, has been at loggerheads with Nigeria’s secular authorities, leading to occasionally violent confrontations.
Zakzaky has periodically been incarcerated for alleged incitement and subversion.
Northern Nigeria is majority Muslim and largely Sunni.
Musa said the victims of the fighting included his wife, son and the former IMN spokesman.
“We can’t give a precise figure of the deaths but it is huge given the number of the members that answered the call to protect the house from the invading soldiers,” he said.
The latest violence was sparked when Shiite faithful on Saturday blocked the main road outside their Husseiniyya religious centre, where hundreds had gathered for a ceremony.
The military claimed the Shiites attacked the convoy of the army chief, Yusuf Buratai, which left soldiers no option but to retaliate.
The group however denied the claim.
Shia Islam was almost unknow in Nigeria until the 1980s when Ibrahim Zakzaky introduced Shia Islam. Zakzaky gained a following among those disenchanted with the political and religious establishment.
It could be recalled on Friday 25 July 2014, Nigerian Army reportedly gunned down 35 followers of Ibrahim Zakzaky including his three undergraduate biological sons after pro-Palestinian procession in Zaria.
The killing drew world attention and world wide sympathizers which lead the Nigerian Government to set up committee to investigate the action. The UK based Islamic Human Rights Commission launched a thorough fact-finding mission on the killings and finally published a comprehensive report titled Zaria Massacres and the Role of the Military in October 2014, narrating the incidence, findings and recommendations.