The 13-Member Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Kaduna State Government to investigate last year’s massacre of members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) by the Nigerian Army, submitted its report on Friday to Governor Nasir El-Rufai.
The Zaria massacre which took place between 12th and 14th December 2015, followed the blocking of the convoy of the controversial chief of army staff, Tukur Buratai, by members of the movement. The army subsequently took action against them, murdering hundreds including women and children in cold blood. Government figures put the number of those killed by the Army and buried in mass graves at 347, but the numbers are believed to be much higher.
While receiving the committee report at the Kaduna Government House, the state governor said that even though the government intends to release the details of the report to the public for transparency sake, it has been classified as top secret and so the security implications will be evaluated first.
El-Rufai said that his government will study the report, digest its lessons, release a White Paper conveying government decisions on the recommendations and follow up promptly.
“In the last three and half decades, Kaduna State has suffered too much from at least ten rounds of ethnic and religious violence,” the governor said. “We hope that the Inquiry process, and the Final Report that you have presented today will help ensure that the legacy of violent disorder, and the catastrophic toll in lives and property, are firmly consigned to the past.”
The chairman of the commission of inquiry, Justice Mohhammed Lawal Garba, said that they received more than 3500 memoranda from the public. He however said that the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), represented by its Counsel, opted out of the inquiry after few appearances and did not give official reasons for doing so.
Despite the claims of the chairman, the reason why the IMN refused to participate in the inquiry was very clear. Its leader, Sheikh Zakzaky, who was shot by the Army, has been in detention since last December, and held incommunicado, away from his family and lawyers. The group said that unless they are given access to their leader, they would not participate. The commission gave orders for the access to be granted, but the authorities refused to grant it.
The man has been in detention for seven months without charge or prosecution, contrary to the laws of the land.