Reps’ Panel To Submit Report On Nigerian Army Killing In Zaria Next Week
A report of the investigation by the House of Representatives into the clash between soldiers and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in Zaria may be submitted next week, it has been gathered.
The lawmakers, who have been away on Christmas and New Year break, will reconvene in Abuja on January 12.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, said the report would be one of the first issues the House would attend to on resumption.
Many lives were lost in Zaria on December 12 and 13 when members of the Islamic sect, otherwise known as Shi’ites, clashed with soldiers.
The Shi’ites were said to have blocked the motorcade of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, in Zaria, which led to the clash.
The Speaker of the House, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, had immediately intervened by asking the Committee on National Security and Intelligence to investigate the clash.
“The committee conducting the investigation has held several meetings with the stakeholders. They have met with some security chiefs and the Shi’ite members themselves.
“Considering the fact that the House gave the committee a very short time frame, the report will be presented when we resume next week,” Namdas said.
The House Committee on National Security and Intelligence is conducting the investigation.
It is headed by an All Progressives Congress lawmaker, Mr. Aminu Sani Jaji. Findings indicated that the committee had already taken testimonies from Buratai.
It also met with the Acting Director-General of the Department of State Services, Mr. Lawal Daura, and held a separate meeting with representatives of the Shi’ites. All the meetings were held behind closed doors.
It was gathered that at the meeting with T.Y Buratai, members were briefed on the “security implications” of the action of the group.
“Some of the issues raised had security implications. But, there were also questions on whether the soldiers could have acted otherwise with minimal force”, one official said on Tuesday.
However, at the session with the Shi’ite members, they had demanded the unconditional release of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, from detention.
The source added that the sect members leveled several allegations against the army, claiming that the December 12 clash was premeditated.
Besides the demand for the release of Zakzaky, they were said to have appealed to the committee to help secure the release of his wife and the corpses of their dead colleagues.
They were said to have told the committee that they would love to bury their colleagues in line with Islamic tradition.
The sect members further alleged that military authorities detained many of their members in Kaduna without being charged to court. In addition, they called for the setting up of a judicial commission of inquiry to conduct a thorough investigation into the clash.
The committee, on hearing the side of the Shi’ite members, was said to have promised to help secure the release of Zakzaky.
However, the lawmakers reminded them that there was an ongoing investigation, which must be concluded before the whole truth would be unearthed.
Meanwhile, Shi’ite women, under the aegis of the Sisters Forum of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria on Tuesday, said scores of their members were tortured and raped before they were killed by the army when soldiers attacked them three weeks ago in Zaria.
They claimed that the women survivors of the attack led to the killing of their husbands and children.
The Public Relations Officer of the group, Jamila Awwal, while addressing journalists at the secretariat of the Kaduna Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, also called for the unconditional release of Zakzaky.
She said while members were denied access to medical attention, the military exhumed the bodies of their members and went further to desecrate them.
Jamila added, “Some of the women were raped before they were killed by the soldiers as confirmed by some survivors who were also tortured after their arrest.
“The soldiers molested our women and removed their hijabs which is a serious violation of Islamic rights.
“All these were followed by propaganda by the government and the army to paint the movement and its leader in a bad light thereby instigating sectarian sentiment and creating tension in the country.
“The authorities have remained insensitive to our plight as they unjustly continue to keep our revered leader, Zakzaky, and members in various military facilities and prisons.”
The spokesperson stressed the resolve of the Shi’ite women to ensure the unconditional release of their leader, husband and children from the government.
“We call for the release of our husbands and children that are in illegal detention facilities across the northern states. Corpses of our members killed by the army should be released to us immediately for burial according to Islamic rites,” she added.
After the press briefing, the group played the video of an alleged attack by soldiers on the Huissaniya Islamic centre and the leader’s resident at Gyallesu in Zaria.