[Opinion] The Nigerian Army and Shiites Clash in Zaria: My Ordinary Citizen Perspective.


Events on Saturday, which led to a clash between the Nigerian Army and some members of Muslim Shi?a sect led by Ibrahim El-Zakzaky in Zaria, have continued to linger in the news headlines. It is reported (as I read in newspapers: I was not there o) that an army convoy, with the chief of army staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai on board, encountered members of the sect where they had barricaded the road en route to the venue of a passing out parade in the same Zaria where the COAS was the special guest of honour.

One important reason is that it further spiralled into riots in Kaduna and other parts of Northern Nigeria which newspapers are reporting to have led to further casualties. Another important reason, among the many other (probably less important) reasons available, is the local and international concerns with the Nigerian Army?s handling of the confrontation. Some are simply asking if it is certain that the Nigerian Army as represented by Lt. Gen. Buratai?s convoy followed the proper rules of engagement and code of conduct in engaging these people or did they just arrogantly display military might that eventually led irredeemable loss of lives. Many others have simply just taken sides; for and against the Nigerian army.

As a Nigerian I can?t really blame anyone who is taking sides; some of them are experts in this kind of matter and they are speaking from a place of knowledge. Others are experts too in the Nigerian reality and experience; I dare to say that they know things that have informed their opinions.

One of the things that many Nigerians know is that the Nigerian Army have not in many times and occasions been good examples of how military might and power should be handled with (self-) control and discipline. Most people in Nigeria know of someone or have experienced how military men can suddenly turn on you, beat you and disgrace you for some of the most trivial of things like having a difference of opinion or claiming your ?right? in a traffic jam. Such memories are the things that inform the bias of many people against the Nigerian army in this matter.

On the other hand, some of the people who have lived in Northern Nigeria also have first-hand knowledge how religious sects and gatherings can be a source of intimidation to other people. For example, major roads can be blocked on Friday Jum?ah prayers and in such instances, inconvenienced road users are usually careful about protesting such because it can lead to an unplanned altercation that may eventually lead to casualties. Patience becomes a very important virtue here.

As an ordinary Nigerian who has read the news, heard the stories concerning this matter and most recently seen a video of the event, I simply have few questions that I have answered on my own but also crave to have other people answer so that I might understand better;

  1. Why were members of the sect barricading the road? Was it meant to be a protest or a provocation (because I understand they had they had grievances but also heard the soldier speaking to them apologizing to them and telling them to please grant them access)
  2. Why were they carrying sticks and stones? Is that a normal thing for them?
  3. Would it have been alright if the members of the Nigerian Army had deferred to them (in terms of Nigeria?s sovereignty, rule of law, blah, blah, blah?.)?
  4. Were the lives of the soldiers in that convoy at risk from the sect members?
  5. Did the Nigerian Army as represented by that convoy do all they could to engage them without resorting to force?

I would sincerely like to hear other people?s answers to these questions.



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  1. The same question that I asked and wanted an answer. If the shiites are protesting over some kinf of grievances, why blocking the road, carrying stones and wood. It means they were violent. If at all youbsaw Nigerian Army convoy, shouldn’t they have just let them go thier way since it is not against the Nigerian Army.
    The Army with with time and they have a duty to carry out and some sect are blocking there way. What do you call that????
    The Nigerian Army should be respected, because the world are also watching. Do you expect the Army to knee down and start begging???
    The Army were attacked when they were e tired of some childish negotiations and resorted to forcefully remove the barricades.
    You are only a sect but dont confront the Arny that protect the Nation. What do you expect?, to watch the sect disrespect them before the whole world?. This is only a lesson. Atleast other will think twice before acting.
    Boko haram are majorly Muslims who were Brian washed with wrong teaching of quoram by some evil clerics . Islam preaches peace. I know some numbera of Muslim. So those Muslims that are warning the Military about another boko haram should try is and become enemies of our Country Nigeria. Because boko haram is an enemy of our country.
    I know some attitudes the Military have but in this case, they are very justified. Let other sects learn from this.

    • I just wonder how a group of lawless people will barricade the road for a military convoy and the citizens on whose behalf the military is operating will turn around to castigate or condemn them.Are they expecting the military to turn back or detour so that tomorrow anotherset of people will do same and the military loose credibility. A peaceful protest does not entail road blockade and what we saw that was blockade and invitation to anarchy.Freedom of religion and association does not mean you can trample on others or societies fundamental rights. Enough of this rubbish in the country.

  2. It’s only a matter of time.
    Religious intolerance will find its way, Why didn’t Iranian Government Call it’s Nigerian Counterparts When Nigerian Army are finding it a challenge to deal with the issues of boko haram? Is it that shiites are having issues with the Nigerian Army convoy, because they have something they were trying to cover up.
    How can You Preach peace, protest molestation by actually molesting others.
    A quick survey will tell that this group often times molest people around them, they have no regard for the rule of law, so why are they crying foul?
    This is not to say killing people is the best way out, but a lesson to all that you cannot always have it your way.