OUR MESSAGE: AN OPEN LETTER TO THE NHRC ON THE 40TH DAY PROTEST IN ABUJA
The Academic Forum
Islamic Movement in Nigeria
Hussainiyya Bakiyyatullah, Zaria
18 January 2016
National Human Right Commission
19, AguiyiIronsi Street
Maitama, Abuja, FCT
We are the Members of the Academic Forum of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria under the leadership of Sheikh Ibrahim YaqubZakzaky (H). We are here today in front of your Headquarters in Abuja on this day 19th January 2016, on the occasion of commemorating the 40th day of the genocide that took place in Zaria on the 12th and 13thDecember 2015 which led to massacre of over 1000 of our brothers and sisters.
On these days,armed soldiers of the Nigerian Army brutally massacred unarmed young men, women and children including an 18 months old baby on the pretext of an attempted assassination of the Chief Of Army Staff (COAS), General T. Y.Buratai.
As a result of that, a day after the incident, the office of the COAS submitted a formal complaint to this commission, (as revealed by the commission’s publication in the dailies) alleging attack on his convoy by the Islamic movement in Nigeria (Shiite sect). In response to the submission this commission instantaneouslycalled for memoranda within 10 daysto investigate the incident giving only 3 weeksperiod within which to submit the memoranda.With all eagerness,after 7 days (20/1/16),public hearing was scheduled to take place. We wish this has been the trend of the working zeal of the commission.
A Our worries
While we sincerely welcome the move to investigate, we however,entertain fears whether our right would be ensured in line with the first stated term of reference of the NHRC Special Investigation Panel that is set to identify any human right violations that may have occurred during the clash by this hasty practice, because;
(i) Over 700 hundred of those whose right may have been violated are still in the Army detention facilities (including my 24 year old daughter).
(ii) Another 200 or more of them are in prisons.
(iii) The COAS’s complaint is against the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and the best person to speak on account of the movement is its leader, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky (H) who is also a victim. We all know he is currently under state detention.
(iv) Another significant group is that of the injured that are receiving treatment in different undisclosed locations under the Army who are also eyewitnesses and victims
(v) There are also near extinct families who are victims and do not have anyone to stand for them at the panel e.g. 7 persons including the head of the family are incarcerated with the Army.
We are skeptical with the procedure adopted and whether more human right will not be violated in the process and we don’t want to believe that the commission that defendsthe right of Nigerian citizens is disrespecting ours.
(i) Do the opinions of nearly 1000 eyewitness and victims of the incident matter to the panel? If yes, how doesit intend to capture them under uninfluenced situations in detentions? And if no how would it make the outcome of the investigation credible and accepted to those concerned?
(ii) We are keen to know what inspired the extra ordinary speed in conduct of this investigation but could not accelerate the submission made by the Islamic Movement on similar issue 17 months earlier.
(iii) Does the commission have double standard procedures for complaints submitted to her; one for ordinary citizens and another for government officials?
As we mourn the death and disappearance of our fathers, mothers, bothers, sister and children in this brutal crackdown by the Army, we demand fair treatment from the commission. Hence, before any investigation;
(i) Sheikh IbraheemZakzaky (H) should be released unconditionally
(ii) All detainees including the injured be released
(iii) Complaints of every complainant member of the Movement to be counted
(iv) Need fear hearing and sufficient time be given to us to present our version of the incident
(v) Corpses of slain brothers and sisters be handed over to us for cross examinations
We sincerely wish that our message and complaints would be given favorable considerationsand those outside your mandate extended to the appropriate quarters through your good office
Thanks for listening
I H Mshelgaru (PhD)