Iran President Hassan RouhaniIran has called on Nigerian authorities to respect religious figures and sects. The call came on the wake of the clash between the Nigerian Army and members of the Muslim sect, Shiite, in Zaria, Kaduna State on Saturday, December 12.

Hossein Laber-Ansari, Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokes person, was reported to have said that “Nigeria… is now dealing with problems arising from extremism and Takfiri terrorism and we hope that in these conditions preservation of calm and national unity in battling terrorism is prioritized while rash and unconstructive measures are avoided.”

There has been war of attrition between the Nigerian Army and the sect, over who instigated the clash that led to the death of some members of the Islamic sect. The Army spokesperson, Sani Usman accused the Shiite followers of attempting to assassinate General Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff. According to the Army, Shite members blocked road and refused to let its chief of staff to drive to the place of Emir of Zaria for a courtesy visit as well as attend a review parade by 73 Regular Recruit Intake at the Nigerian Army Depot in Zaria. The army said all entreaties to get the sect members to steer clear of the federal highway was met with strong resistance.

However, the Shiite sect has denied the Army’s explanation. A statement signed by Isak K and posted on the website of the sect, said the claim that the COAS “narrowly escaped assassination as a result of attack from Muslim brothers and sisters of the Islamic Movement is a blatant lie and raises series of questions in the mind of right thinking people.”

It said members of the movement who were unarmed were gathered for a ceremony at their Husainiyyah base, to change the flag on the dome of the building to herald the beginning of the month of Rabiul /Auwal- the birth month of the Prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad. “Any excuse given by the military as reason for besieging Hussainiyyah and firing for hours, leading to the death of yet to be specified number of people, is considered a lie of the decade,” the movement said.

By Dike Onwuamaeze

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