The governments of the United States of America and United Kingdom have expressed dismay over the tragic clash between members of the Nigerian Army and the Shiite Islamic Movement in Zaria, Kaduna State, calling for a thorough probe of the incident.
Conflicting reports had said about 800 people lost their lives during the unfortunate incident. The army claimed the Shiites protesters had blocked a convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, General Buratai, moving to kill him while Shiites sext members said it was a pre-meditated attack on the peaceful protesters.
In a statement on Wednesday, the US Embassy in Abuja urged the two sides to exercise restraint to avoid actions that may further destabilize the situation.
“While many details of the incidents that reportedly began on December 12 remain unclear, we are dismayed to learn of multiple civilian deaths. It is essential that all sides refrain from actions that further destabilize the situation.
“The United States calls on the Government of Nigeria to quickly, credibly, and transparently investigate these events in Zaria and hold to account any individuals found to have committed crimes.”
On his part, the British High Commissioner, Paul Arkwright counseled the security agencies to conduct their operations within the ambit of the rule of law.
In a statement, Arkwright said, “Like many across Nigeria, I am following with concern the reports of violence in Zaria over the weekend between the Nigerian security forces and the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. I am further concerned at reports that protests in Kaduna have turned violent.
“Nigeria’s religious and ethnic diversity adds a great deal to this country’s rich culture. It is important, therefore, that Nigerians of all faiths are allowed to assemble and worship freely.
“In addition, I call on the security forces to conduct their operations within the rule of law, and for demonstrators to ensure any protests are peaceful and equally act within the law.”