World Bulletin / News Desk
Leader of Nigeria's Muslim Shiite community Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky blasted the country's Boko Haram insurgency as "a western covert operation to balkanize" the nation.
"[Boko Haram leader] Abubakar Shekau is presently being kept safe in a military camp," El-Zakzaky said Sunday in northwest Kaduna state on the commemoration of the annual Shiite Martyrs Day.
"Let no [one] be fooled, there is nothing like Boko Haram. It is a covert operation to balkanize Nigeria and steal its resources in the name of search of Boko Haram insurgents."
El-Zakzaky said the developments in Nigeria's northern region, hit recently by a spate of attacks by Boko Haram, is a replica of the western operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is aiming at plundering the country.
"They have realized that there is gold in Zamfara and Zaria, Birnin-Gwari, [and] gold and platinum in Sokoto and Borno. They did it in Iraq, as they went in search of weapons of mass destruction, which they never found but plunged the country in chaos," he added.
“The same thing was experimented in Afghanistan before our eyes. The Western countries are experimenting the second phase of scramble for Africa with great expectations from Nigeria," he went on to say.
Attacks blamed on Boko Haram militants have claimed nearly 100 lives in Borno during the past week alone.
On April 14, militants from Boko Haram group stormed a school in the town of Chibok, located on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest, and loaded scores of schoolgirls onto trucks before driving away unchallenged.
The exact number of abducted schoolgirls, however, still remains dogged by controversy.
Military teams from the United Kingdom and United States have already arrived in Nigeria as part of a global response to the crisis.
Boko Haram, which means "Western education is forbidden" in Nigeria's local Hausa language, first emerged in the early 2000s preaching against government misrule and corruption.
The group later became violent, however, after the death of its leader in 2009 while in police custody.
In the five years since, the shadowy sect has been blamed for numerous attacks – on places of worship and government institutions – and thousands of deaths.
El-Zakzaky also criticized an alleged security clampdown on his followers by the Nigerian authorities, including "unlawful detention without trial."
“No law or constitutional provision allows for such a lengthy detention without trial and without visitation by families and friends, especially in a democratic government Nigeria is claiming to operate," he said.
"The U.S. and Israel see the Islamic movement in Nigeria as the greatest threat to achieving their sinister objective, hence the constant clampdown attempt and arrest of our members.”
Shiite constitutes a tiny minority of Nigeria's overwhelming Muslim majority (over 80 million). An estimated four to six million Nigerian Muslims are said to be Shiite and they are concentrated largely in north's commercial capital city Kano as well as Sokoto and Kaduna.
Shiite Islam was popularized in the early 1980s by El-Zakzaky himself who has remained its spiritual leader since.
The group has lived side by side in peace with the Sunni majority, although tension rose a few years ago when anti-Shiite Sunni cleric Umaru Danmaishiyya was assassinated allegedly by Shiites.Last Mod: 26 Mayıs 2014, 09:46