The Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Kaduna State Government to investigate the December 12-14, 2015 clash between the Nigerian Army and members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), has recommended the prosecution of Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and soldiers who participated in the killing of more than 300 Shi’ites in the clash.
The Commission said in the report that El-Zakzaky should be prosecuted for alleged acts of lawlessness by his members.
According to the Justice Mohammed Garba Lawal led commission, El-Zakzaky and his members should be held responsible for the bloody clash with the Nigerian Army last December, which led to the deaths of 349 people, including one soldier, while also accusing the Army for the disproportionate use of force contrary to its rules of engagement.
The report states: “Members of the IMN owe absolute loyalty to Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky. He therefore bears responsibility for all acts of lawlessness committed by the organisation and should therefore be held responsible, fully investigated and prosecuted.”
The commission further stated: “The number of casualties recorded during the incident was too high and cannot be justified. Members of the Nigerian Army found to have been involved in the killings should be brought to trial before a court of competent jurisdiction.
“The IMN is notorious for engaging in hate and dangerous speech that provoke other Muslims.
“The National Assembly should initiate the establishment of a law against hate and dangerous speech, and once enacted, the law should be enforced.
“The Kaduna State governor’s personal call to the IMN leader in which he asked Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky to call upon his followers to remove barricades on Sokoto Road and allow the chief of army staff access fell on deaf ears.”
The commission however faulted the mass burial of 347 dead persons by the Kaduna State government without proper inquest.
The commission further stated: “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees certain fundamental rights of every citizen and it is the duty of the federal government to protect these rights.
“The activities of any person, group or community that poses a serious threat to national security, the unity and peaceful co-existence and curtails the rights of the other members of the society should be of more than passing interest to the government.
“From the testimonies of the State Security Service (SSS), the Nigeria Police, groups such as the Jamaatu Nasril Islam (JNI), communities such as Gyallesu Community, Sabon-Gari community and a host of others, including individuals, it is clear that the menace of the IMN activities had been going on (seemingly unchallenged) for quite a long time.
“Its external relationship with other countries, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran and Lebanon, has also been touted. In all these, the government was silent…
“The Constitution of Nigeria protects the rights of all citizens to religious freedom, belief and proselytization and these rights must be respected and protected bearing in mind that the same Constitution has placed limitations.
“When however certain religious organisations and movements abuse these rights by engaging in criminal and illegal acts, the state has a responsibility to investigate and prosecute those who infringe the law.”
However, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, has described the report as biased and full of distortions.
The spokesman of the group, Ibrahim Musa, while reacting to the report, wondered why the commission indicted the group as being responsible for the bloody clash in Zaria, whereas their leader, Shiekh Ibrahim El Zakzaky was never given the opportunity to appear before the commission and defend himself.
By Timothy Enietan-Matthews
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