Timeline of a massacre: A review of the Zaria attacks 2014 – 2016

Undoubtedly the Zaria massacre of December 2015 was a premeditated, well planned and meticulously executed plot to eliminate Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and to exterminate the Islamic Movement completely. We reflect on the timelines between 2014 and 2016. What a timeline of a massacre:

July 25 2014

The Military attacked a peaceful Quds procession, killing a total of 34 people. The dead included three sons of Mallam Ibrahim Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic movement in Nigeria.

July 26 2014

Military arrived Hussainiyyah and opened fire, killing a further 3 people and wounding several others

28 August 2014

Sheikh Zakzaky exposed plans to attack the Movement again on the fortieth day prayers.

August 2014

Military set up Board of Inquiry headed by one Col. Benjamin. No conclusion.

August 2014

Several attempts at attacking the Movement and Sheikh Zakzaky through military inspired false flag operations were uncovered.

September 2014

Sheikh Zakzaky addressed session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission over the Zaria Quds Day killings carried out by the Nigerian military.

October 2014

Another attempt at assassinating Sheikh Zakzaky was exposed

November 2014

Because of the incessant attempts by the Nigerian government to kill Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky: Rallies were conducted across Nigeria.


November 2014

Attack on Ashura Procession in Potiskum with bombs carried out in broad daylight by soldiers. They were seen bringing and carrying the bomber to the scene.

December 2014

Sheikh Zakzaky once again exposed a plan by the military to kill him

March 2015

Soldiers killed one, injured 4 Members of the Islamic movement in Kaduna State in a raid on their Islamic Centre. There was no justification for the attack.

April 2015

Bomb attack targets Brothers in Potiskum. This time around, the attack was carried out in their Centre.

May 2015

Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky accuses Nigerian security, Zazzau Emirate of the recent attempt on his life. Attempt to attack sheikh Ibrahim Yakub Zakzaky (h)’s resident: “They wanted to kill me” – sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky (H) said in an interview with BBC Hausa.

June 2015

Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky advises the new government to re-constitute and re-orient Nigerian army. The call was in relation to several attempts by the Nigerian Army on his life.

July 2015

An ambush on a convoy of Sheikh Zakzaky on his way to Abuja by the military to attend the First Anniversary of the martyrdom of his children and 32 others.

October 2015

Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky exposes a new plot by enemies to attack Islamic Movement

November 2015

Department of State Security (DSS) issued a warning that gatherings will be attacked, especially in Abuja, Kaduna, Zaria or Kano. Sheikh Zakzaky said if they knew of the plot, they should rather abort it by arresting those plotting. He said that it was only a pretense to attack people in the name of Boko Haram.

November 2015

A bomb detonated at a peaceful procession moving from Kano to Zaria. Tens were killed and several others were severely wounded. One of the bombers was apprehended before he could detonate his lethal load. He made some revealing comments as to the workings of the so-called Boko Haram.

December 2015

Millions flock Zaria for Arba’een as Sheikh Zakzaky yet again exposed a desperate planned attack. He also identified the perpetrators of Kano bomb attack, accusing DSS of planting the bomb.

Hoodlums attack members of the Islamic Movement in Gabari, a village in the outskirts of Zaria, killing two.

12 -13 December 2015

Military stationed soldiers in front of Hussainiyyah. The soldiers opened fire without provocation, killing a number of persons and wounded many others. Soldiers were spotted dragging some of the corpses and loading them into their trucks. Those wounded and taken into the Husseiniyyah were prevented from seeking medical care as soldiers cordoned off Hussainiyyah. About three hours later, the convoy of Army chief arrived, along with hoodlums who acted some scenes for the Army convoy to videotape. Thereafter, soldiers opened fire a second time and Army chief left the scene, but the soldiers maintained a siege of Hussainiyyah.

Soldiers First coming

Soldiers threw a bomb (as testified in the Judicial Commission of Inquiry) to bring down a section of the wall to gain access to the inside of the Hussainiyah. They shot and killed several people in the process.

Soldiers cordoned off Gyellesu quarters of Zaria at about 10:00pm, where the residence of Sheikh Zakzaky was. They shot their way along the 500m stretch of road to Sheikh Zakzaky’s residence, punctuated by the use of explosives over 17 hours. The soldiers set fire to buildings and corpses. They also set fire on the wounded to finish them off or shot the wounded.

13 December 2015

The Soldiers were captured stealing money and items from their victims. They temporarily withdrew, which allowed hooligans to search and steal from victims as well. Corpses piled up along the stretch of road leading up to Sheikh Zakzaky’s house.

13 December 2015

The rampaging soldiers attacked the cemetery where children of the Sheikh killed in 2014 were buried. The site also served as the film village. All those there were killed. The graves were desecrated and all structures were demolished. Corpses taken away

14 December 2015

Sheikh Zakzaky was fatally shot and arrested after killing his 3 sons in front of him. His elder sister and a nephew were among the over 800 killed in and around the residence. His wife was similarly fatally shot and wounded. Both were arrested and taken away and are being held till this moment without being charged.

December 2015

The Husseiniyyah center was demolished.

December 2015

Sheikh Zakzaky’s mother’s (Hajiya Hari Jamo) personal house and grave were demolished.

14 December 2015

The Chief of Army Staff sent a petition to the National Human Rights Commission claiming that it was an attempt on his life that prompted the killing spree

19 December 2015

Governor made a state broadcast blaming the Movement for the massacre. He pledged to set up an inquiry.

20 December 2015

The Fudiyyah Islamic Center (a religious and educational resource center) was demolished

21 December 2015

The General Officer Commanding holds a series of meetings with religious and community leaders and instigated them to make hate speeches against the members of the Movement to justify the massacre

The GOC told the press Sheikh and his wife, were alive and would talk to their members soon. He said they are in protective custody. He declined to give a casualty figure, but declared the military owes no apology.

23 – 24 December 2015

The President in a media chat claimed he had not been briefed. Yet he blamed the Movement for constituting a state within a state. He claimed that another country was supporting the Movement. He refused to allow a federal government inquiry, claiming that the state government had agreed to set up one.

A press statement issued by the Army Spokesperson, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, in which he accused the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and in particular Dr. Abdullahi Danladi of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria of a campaign of calumny and misinformation.

January 2016

The National Human Rights Commission begins a secret hearing on the matter. The Army Chief testified in secret, but later told newsmen that only seven people were killed.

Islamic Movement met Senators and members of House of Representatives committees. There has not been any report or outcome from that angle ever since.

February 2016

The composition of the Kaduna State Judicial Commission of Inquiry was announced. It was lopsided and the terms of reference that were laid out for the commission were such as to render it insufficiently independent. This was roundly condemned by many rights groups, including Amnesty International.

February 2016

The Kaduna Judicial Commission was sworn in and commenced public hearing. Was given six weeks within which to submit a report. However, sittings were stalled by the refusal of the security forces to allow lawyers to see the Sheikh and allow him the right of fair hearing.

March 2016

Both lawyers and the Movement withdrew their participation from the Judicial Commission of inquiry. The Commission continued to sit irrespective of the absence of the Sheikh or the Movement.

April 2016

Stunning revelations of mass grave in the Mando area of Kaduna were made by 2 government officials as they testified before the Judicial Commission. They said it contained 347 people consisting of men, women and children. They were brought in trucks secretly nearly 100km away from the scene of the massacre and buried over 5 hours at night. The military had earlier denied killing anyone in their testimony at the Commission.

April 2016

Lawsuits were instituted seeking to enforce the fundamental rights of the Sheikh and his wife at the Federal High Courts. These were initially delayed and frustrated by the refusal of the Army chief and military to put up appearances for the cases. In the meantime, the lead counsel to Sheikh Zakzaky was being threatened and intimidated. He was also being denied access to his clients by the Department of State Security.

May 2016

The Kaduna state government instituted a legal action against a total of 266 members of the movement, charging a total of 256 (including women and children as young as 2 years) for culpable homicide. The case is characterized by prolonged adjustments. Many of those detained in Prison are minors and many more are carrying several degrees of injuries sustained during the massacre with no appropriate treatment. There were fatalities in prison custody due to lack of access to medical care. Some even collapsed in court during trials.

August 2016

The Judicial Commission of Inquiry submits its report, which was made public. Despite the fallacies contained therein, and that they failed to comment on what is to be done to the mass grave for instance, it established certain fundamental facts:

  • That the Nigerian Army carried out a Massacre
  • That the Nigerian Army didn’t follow any rule of engagement or international rules in dealing with a civilian population
  • That the much talked about weapons thought to be stockpiled by the Islamic Movement was found not to be true

October 2016

The Kaduna state government brought out its white paper on the report of the Judicial Commission, paradoxically absolving the military of any blame and rather outlawing the Islamic Movement as an unlawful Society.

October 2016

Spates of attacks on members of the Islamic Movement by security agents took place in Kaduna, Katsina, Kano and Plateau states, which resulted in the death of scores of persons including women and children. Further scores of people were arrested and detained, including children as young as 4 years. Properties including residential buildings, Islamic centers and schools belonging to members of the Islamic Movement were utterly destroyed.

November, 2016

Several people were again killed and many others injured or arrested as the Kano state government sent policemen to attack a peaceful religious observance of Arba’een trek.

December 2, 2016

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ruled in favor of Sheikh Zakzaky and wife Zeenah, declaring their detention as unconstitutional and a breach of their fundamental human rights. It ordered that both be released and a total of N50 million be paid to them in compensation, and that a house must be built for them in Kaduna or any town of their choice in Northern Nigeria.

To continued

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