At the el-Rufai Kangaroo judicial panel
The General Officer Commanding (GOC) the 1 Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade who narrated what happened during the clash, said he received briefings from his field commanders who witnessed how members of the sect blocked the road preventing the Chief of Army Staff from passing through that route.
He said he received reports that the IMN members were gathering to launch attacks, for which reason he moved round the town and confirmed that they had started gathering around the Gyallesu area where the Hussainiya was located, carrying all sorts of weapons.
The GOC said he gave his men orders to go into the three areas to search and retrieve deadly weapons from the IMN members to avoid violence but said the men and officers of the Army came under attack from the Shi’ites who he said did everything to prevent them from entering into the place to carry out the search.
The GOC said it was only on the third day that one of the leaders of the sect came out of the El-Zakzaky’s residence and said the Army could now go in to take the sect leader. “So, about 09;00 hours that Monday, we were able to recover El-Zakzaky and we took him to a health facility as he was injured and gave him the best military attention available there,” he recalled.
Under cross-examination, the GOC said casualties from the scene of the Zaria clash were more than what he witnessed in the war that ravaged Sierra-Leone and Liberia, saying, “What we saw were very violent extremist group willing to take on the state and they did that so strongly. I’ve been involved in operations in Sierra Leone and Liberia but I have not seen anything as bloody as what I saw in Zaria.”
The director of administration of the Nigeria Army, General AB Abubakar in his testimony, said based on hindsight; he has reasons to believe there was a plan to eliminate the Chief of Army Staff. He said some youths blocked the roads and while his men tried to persuade them to clear the road, gunshots were heard coming from the Hussainiya and the soldiers had to act to save the COAS in line with the Army Act.