The 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.