Shiites-Army Clash: Kaduna State Govt Says Over 340 Bodies Buried

Army Shiites clashThe Kaduna State Government says no fewer than 347 dead bodies were given a mass burial after the violence clash between members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and the Nigerian Army which occurred in Zaria on December 12, 2015.

The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Balarabe Lawal, gave the testimony when he appeared before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the State government to investigate the cause of the incident.

Although members of the group have maintained that corpses of the victims were secretly buried at an unidentified cemetery by the Army, this is the first time the state government is giving an information about how the remains of the killed Shiites were disposed.

Members of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry investigating the December 2015 bloody clash held their session at the General Usman Katsina House, with submissions made by witnesses to the incident.

The commission has so far received submissions from the Nigerian Army, but Tuesday session featured some officials of the Kaduna State government led by the SSG.

While making his submission, Mr Lawal said that 191 corpses were taken from the Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria, and were later buried at Mando area in the outskirt of the state capital.

He further told the commission that another 156 corpses were also conveyed from the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria, to the same Mando cemetery for mass burial.

The State government said the corpses were committed into a single grave at Mando and jointly supervised by the State government officials and about 40 men of the Nigerian Army.

The SSG informed the panel that 189 suspects were being prosecuted for alleged involvement in the Zaria clash while one of them died in custody.

On the alleged demolition of buildings and structures of the IMN leader, Sheik El-Zakzaky and other members, the SSG explained that the buildings were demolished because they did not meet up government’s approved building safety standards.

Counsels to the commission, JNI and Nigerian Army cross examined the SSG on the submission.

Another witness and Director-General, Kaduna State Interfaith Agency, Namadi Musa, who claimed he supervised the burial, said the corpses were buried on December 14 and 15 respectively, and that the mass burial was authorised through a warrant of burial obtained from a Chief Magistrates Court in the state capital,

Another witness, a representative of the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Professor Adamu Ahmed, who is the Deputy Chief Medical Director, narrated how armed soldiers invaded the hospital, prevented the workers from discharging their duties and also carted away corpses from the hospital’s mortuary.

The Justice Muhammed Lawal-Garba’s panel also received submissions from the Izala Islamic group and the Gyellesu Community in Zaria.

Shiites Funded By Iranian Government

The elder brother of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, Muhammad Sani Yaqoob, in his submission, commended the actions taken by the Nigerian Army in the December clash between soldiers and the Shiites in Zaria which he said was caused by the group who blocked the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff.

Speaking in Hausa language, he alleged that the movement got funding from the Iranian government, and had been harassing and intimidating residents of Zaria and Kaduna state over the years.

Although members of the Islamic movement in Nigeria and their lawyers have withdrawn further appearance before the panel, a statement issued by their spokesman after the proceedings, said the recent revelations made by Kaduna State government through the SSG had clearly vindicated them from any wrong doing.

The public hearing will continue for the next three weeks and members of the public are anxiously awaiting the outcome and recommendations that would be made by the commission.

Shiite Members Shun Judicial Commission Of Inquiry’s Sitting

kaduna-ShiiteMembers of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria on Monday shunned the inaugural sitting of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the December 12, 2015, violent clash between the group and the Nigerian Army in Zaria, Kaduna State.

At the commencement of the public sitting at the General Hassan Usman Katsina House in the State capital, venue of the public hearing, as early as 9 O’clock in the morning and waited for about an hour without seeing members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. They did not send any representative or apology.

Members of the commission arrived at the General Hassan Usman Katsina House, venue of the public hearing as early as 9 O’clock in the morning and waited for about an hour without seeing members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria or their lawyers.

Their absence may be unconnected with their demand for the release of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and over 700 of their members, who were taken into custody by security operatives days after the incident.

But the Nigerian Army was represented at the sitting by the General Officer Commanding One division, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade.

The absence of the Shiite members compelled the commission to adjourn till Wednesday, February 4 in expectation that counsel to the commission, Yusuf Ali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, would ascertain the whereabouts of Sheik El-Zakzaky and report back to the commission by the next sitting.

Some lawyers representing various interests at the panel asked the commission to ensure that all parties involved in the matter were adequately represented in order to give each of them a fair hearing, but the commission’s chairman, Justice Mohammed Garba, insisted that they had notified all parties involved about the sitting and therefore, does not have the powers to give an open invitation to any individual or group.

The commission’s chairman also announced that a total of 105 memoranda had been received from members of the public.

He reassured the sitting that the commission would conduct an unbiased investigation and recommend necessary action that would be fair to all parties involved.

Mr Garba also asked the Nigerian Army to ensure it was represented during all the sittings of the commission.

The commission, which has 13 terms of reference, will inquire into the immediate and remote causes of the clashes, and thereafter make recommendations to the state government.