A year after the Zaria Massacre that saw hundreds of Muslims killed in a military action against protesting youth, the Kaduna state government led by Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai has charged the Buhari government to punish the soldiers implicated in the massacre.
During the days of December 12th to 14th of 2015, a military response to a road block saw massacres at over 5 locations across Kaduna with property immediately demolished and burned and hundreds of Muslims maimed, burned and killed with the dead and near-death secretly buried in a mass grave in the middle of the night by state agents.
In a White Paper report, the Kaduna state government while labeling the affected Islamic movement an “insurgent group,” pushed the punishment of the implicated soldiers to Buhari, president of Nigeria. The US has since urged the Buhari government to act on the report and bring the implicated soldiers to justice.
Zakzaky, IMN Were Denied Attending Kaduna Panel
Of note, the validity of the judicial panel itself has been questioned due to the Nigerian government disallowing chief witness, Sheikh Zakzaky, his wife Zeenat and several other locked-up victims (denied bail) from attending which led to the affected side, the Islamic movement being unable to be present at the one-sided hearings.
El-Rufai Pushes Punishment of Soldiers To FG
But while further attacking the Islamic movement in its White paper report in which it justified its “rejection” of several of its judicial panel recommendations, the El-Rufai-led Kaduna state government transferred the repudiation of the soldiers to Buhari.
According to Leadership,
“…the State Government noted the recommendation that “members of the Nigerian Army that may have been involved in the unlawful killing of 347 citizens should be brought to trial before a Court of competent jurisdiction.“
“The Kaduna State Government is assured that the Federal Government will not condone unlawful killing of any citizen and that this conduct will be further investigated and any culprits identified will first be subjected to court martial by the federal authorities, followed by civil prosecution by the state government,”said the
Buhari Promised Response
President Muhammadu Buhari in August promised an “appropriate response” to the judicial panel report.
In a statement by spokesman Mr. Garba Shehu, Buhari said, he “had told the nation during the Presidential Media Chat that he was awaiting the outcome of the report of inquiry into the incident before making appropriate response”. The statement continued that the “present administration believes in due process and the rule of law; therefore any response to the report would follow this principle”.
While one side, the Islamic Movement including its leader Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat have been harshly punished for a year now with several of them locked up without charge after being shot at and injured and denied medical care, the other side is yet to be punished a year later.
December 14th 2016 marks a year mark since the incidents that left hundreds of Muslims killed and many detained.
Mass Grave Yet To Be Exhumed, Investigated
The issue of the secret mass burial at Mando cemetery is also not yet addressed and it is expected the President Muhammadu Buhari will soon address this alleged violation.
The Kaduna state government confessed in April of this year to have secretly buried at least 347 Muslims in a mass grave. The confession came after human right groups discovered the mass grave at Mando cemetery in Zaria.
The grave has since not been exhumed to properly investigated the numbers killed and buried at the crime scene and to identify the victims as well as offer them a proper burial. The Nigerian military has allegedly been involved in similar mass burial cover-ups including at Onitsha after a massacre of protesting pro-Biafrans.
In a recent report, the International Criminal Court has said that it is still investigating the events of last year December Zaria massacre. Nigeria’s Attorney General, Mr. Abubakar Malami has recently been invited by the agency in line with its investigation.
The US Obama government called on President Muhammadu Buhari to comply with the court order to release incarcerated Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat. The US also implored the Buhari government to abide by the recommendations of its own judicial panels and punish the culpable military officers while urging restraint in labeling the Islamic movement a terror organisation and the clamping down on minority Muslim religious freedoms.
The nation stands still waiting for Buhari.
They say justice delayed is justice denied.
While one side has suffered unbearable punishment and malignment for a year the other side is yet to be repudiated.
This incident which is one of the gravest state-involved human right infractions of recent times threatens to mark and perhaps mar a Buhari legacy.
Dr. Peregrino Brimah; @EveryNigerian