Tukur Buratai, the chief of army staff said it was the will of God that saved him from being assassinated on Saturday by members of the Shiites Muslim sect.
Speaking to newsmen yesterday, December 14, at the National Assembly complex, shortly after an interactive meeting called by the Senate committee on defence, for service chiefs, Buratai said the sect were violent and heavily armed, Vanguard reports.
He said: “You want to know how I escaped? It was by the will of God that I was able to escape from the place.”
The convoy of the number one army officer in the country was said to have been attacked in Zaria, Kaduna state, on Saturday, while he was on his way to the palace of the emir Zazzau to pay homage and also attend the passing out parade of 73 regular recruits intake of depot Nigerian army in Zaria.
The Nigerian army has said the leader of the Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife were in their custody, safe and sound.
However, the sect has accused the army of killing at least one thousand of its members and evacuated their bodies to unknown destinations.
In a statement, the sect said: “The army is deliberately exploiting religious sectarian sentiment to instigate uninformed public, some of whom are now busy killing innocent and unarmed members of the Movement at sight using local weapons.
”The Army is at present dressing corpses of members of the Movement with their military attire and snapping still pictures to probably display them as soldiers killed by the Movement during the attack as a means of propaganda, whereas it was solely an attack by the army on armless citizens.”
“The army has also stationed road blocks in Zaria picking out innocent unarmed people that look like members of the Movement and killing them in cold block. Even today they put an army road block in Zaria to Kaduna highway near Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, searching for any member of the Islamic Movement. The most weird of many of such cases is that of an army road block at Dogarawa near Zaria where they killed thirty of our members traveling to Zaria yesterday Sunday.”
The sect said it was a peaceful movement with members in every cadre of the society that are entitled to every rights enjoyed by every other Nigerian.
Meanwhile, the army has said it has nothing against the Shiites as they are also Nigerians. “But we cannot tolerate them forming a government within a government. I call on all shiites members to be law abiding and go about their religious activities without tampering with the freedom of others,” the army said.
Report has it that normalcy has returned to the affected parts of Zaria town.
Following the killing of Shiites by soldiers in Zaria on Saturday, some Nigerians living in London protested outside the Nigerian High Commission.