Zaria Massacre a Case at Hand


A united Kingdom-based Islamic advocacy organisation, Islamic Human Rights Commission, has called on the Nigerian Government to release Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, who have been in jail since 2015 on baseless charges.

IHRC disclosed this in its latest communication with the International Criminal Court regarding the Zaria massacres of 2015.

Recall that the London-based Islamic group had earlier dragged President Muhammadu Buhari, Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, to the ICC over the December 12 to 14, 2015 massacre of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.

The organisation accused El-Rufai of compromising the commission of inquiry his government set up to investigate the Zaria killings by demolishing the properties of the Shi’ite group days after the incident.

It also asked the ICC to investigate former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, and late Emir of Zaria, Shehu Idris, for human rights violation and crimes against humanity over the alleged killing of at least 1,000 followers of the Shi’ite group led by El-Zakzaky.

Other army officers and persons the IHRC asked the ICC to probe for their roles in the massacre are former spokesperson for the Nigerian Army, Sani Usman, General Officer Commanding of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Adeniyi Oyebade, Commander, Nigerian Depot, Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin, Director, Military Intelligence, Chief of Defence Intelligence, AVM Riku Morgan, AK Ibrahim, Commander 1 Division Garrison, Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Col. F.M Babayo, Capt Ben, Adjutant Depot, Nigerian Army; Adeniyi Oyebade, General Officer Commanding, 1 Division Garrison Kaduna; Umar Labdo; Sambo Rigachukun; Bala Lau; Yahaya Jingir and; Kabir Gombe.
The rest are Captain Ben, Adjutant Depot, Nigerian Army; Adeniyi Oyebade, General Officer Commanding, 1 Division Garrison Kaduna; Umar Labdo; Sambo Rigachukun; Bala Lau; Yahaya Jingir and; Kabir Gombe.

IHRC in its latest report written by Caterina Aiena, called on the ICC to investigate the Zaria massacre carefully, noting that the action of the army qualifies as a crime against humanity.

The report contains horrific details of the massacre and the destruction of properties owned by the IMN between December 12 and 14, 2015.

According to IHRC, which described the attacks on the Shi’ite group as unprovoked and premeditated, the attack was centred on four properties: the Hussainiyyah and religious centre located at No.1A, Sokoto Road; the home of the IMN leader El-Zakzaky in the Gyellesu neighbourhood of Zaria; the group’s burial ground of Darur-Rahma in Dembo Village on the outskirts of Zaria; and the home and burial place of Hajiya Saliha Muhammad, Sayyid Zakzaky’s late mother in the Jushi neighbourhood of Zaria.

Part of the report reads, “IHRC welcomes the Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2019 by the Prosecution Office of the International Criminal Court. Nonetheless, IHRC is of the view that in these five years little has been demanded from the Nigerian government by the ICC and other leading international organizations.

“In respect of their role at the forefront of the fight for the protection of human rights, the international community should apply more pressure on the Nigerian authorities and remind the country of its obligations to uphold fundamental human rights. IHRC believes that the Nigerian authorities have been operating outside legal norms on the basis of examination of a number of incidents, within the context of a strategy which aims on one hand at destroying and concealing all evidence incriminating the soldiers responsible for the killings of December 2015, and on the other hand to cripple the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (Islamic Movement).

“This is exemplified by the fact that a) the government has refused to follow the National Commission of Inquiry’s recommendation to prosecute Adeniyi Oyebade, the General Officer Commanding the Nigerian Army’s 1st Division, widely believed to be behind the savage attacks; b) the Attorney-General of a lower state court has started prosecuting Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife, Mallima Zeenah, on the basis of false accusations in a sham trial, in defiance of the 2016 order for their release by the Federal High Court of Justice (a higher national court), who ordered the Department of State Services (DSS) to release Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife Zeenah within 45 days.

“This IHRC communication aims to provide an in-depth update on the happenings since the 2015 massacre occurred, to be seen in the context of continuous violations of the state of law and Zakzaky’s right to receive medical treatment by Nigerian authorities. IHRC believes that the trumped-up charges against Zakzaky and his wife reflect a misguided attempt by the government to conceal its responsibility for a planned and systematic attack by soldiers against unarmed civilians, along with the government’s culpability in a pattern of contempt for due process. In the first part, the report provides an update on the major incidents that have occurred from 2016 to April 2020. In the second and third parts, IHRC has attached two lists: 1) a list of attacks by Nigerian police and/or army against Islamic Movement members, supporters and religious places; 2) an up-to-date list of the people killed during the December 2015 attack in Zaria. RECOMMENDATIONS: IHRC makes the following recommendations to the ICC:

“Take measures to ensure that all evidence of crimes and human rights violations are preserved, including all military and other official records, in particular records relating to the collection and disposal of the bodies of those killed in the attack of December 2015 in Zaria. There is credible evidence that the Nigerian authorities are seeking to destroy this evidence.

“Ensure that the necessary safeguards are in place for the safety and security of witnesses who may testify against the army or the Nigerian Government in any legal process.

“Create and implement mechanisms for exhumations, autopsies and investigations into those killed in December 2015. Bodies interred in mass graves should be exhumed, under the supervision of the ICC or another international body, with a view to conducting independent autopsies by independent and recognized international forensic pathologists to establish the causes and circumstances of death. This process should be done as swiftly as possible, so as to allow bodies of the deceased to be returned to their families for burial in line with their cultural and religious norms.
We believe the above steps are necessary in order to allow the ICC to bring successful prosecution.

“The Nigerian authorities have shown over the last 4 years that they have no intention of prosecuting those responsible for this crime. While it is necessary that the ICC follow its procedures, it should not lose sight of this fact or the Nigerian Government and army’s willingness to destroy evidence that points to their culpability. Failure to take the above steps will allow the government and army to erase all evidence of their criminal actions.

“The incidents in Zaria are not the first time that the Nigerian Army has acted in this way. Amnesty International has reported the extra judicial killings of alleged members of Boko Haram by the Nigerian Army. These killings involved them slitting peoples’ throats whilst filming and photographing the atrocities. Such actions amount to a war crime.

“These types of events strongly suggest that at least a section of the Nigerian Army is totally out of control and is committing murder and extra-judicial killings of unarmed civilians with apparent impunity. We recommend that the Nigerian Army’s participation in all international peace missions, organised by the UN or the African Union, be suspended immediately, until the perpetrators are identified and brought to justice.”

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