Army/Shiite Clash Update: Public Hearing Commences Without Representatives of Shiite
Hearings to look into the Army/Shiite Clash of 12-14th of December, 2015, by the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Kaduna state government has began on Wednesday without representatives of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) also known as Shiite appearing.
According to the chairman of the Commission, Mohammed Lawal Garba, the Commission cannot compel any party to appear before it as several adjournments were made to ensure access is gained to the Shiite leader, which was achieved. Gaining access to the leader of the group, Ibraheem Elzakzaky, was a prerequisite the legal team of IMN emphasized before their appearance before the Commission.
Garba, however, noted that, the IMN has been given every opportunity for fair hearing; instead they withdrew from appearing and to approach the court; as such, there is no longer any reason for the Commission to wait.
He said, “However, the Commission by laws is not bound to wait for any party, and since they appear not to come and present their side of what happened last December in Zaria, we shall proceed without them. “In any event they change their mind to appear, the Commission will be ready to hear from them. However, if they decide not to appear, the proceedings will continue and will submit its report to the government.”
Army Chief of Operations, Gen. Adamu B. Abubakar, while making presentations for the Nigeria Army, said the Nigeria Army based on the incident of the 12th December, acted based on the rule of engagement and code of conduct of the Nigeria Army. He explained that after making pleas to have their way, the young men remained adamant, which resulted to what has happened.
After recalling the incidences that happened in enclosures one to eleven of their memoranda, he presented recordings on CD plates as further evidence of what transpired on the days of the clash.
One of the enclosures presented on CD as explained by Abubakar was training of the Qura group whom he said are members of the Movement. He said the Qura group, who are both males and females, receive military training to kill – they are a system within a system.
He also noted that they have had a similar encounter with the group on 24th July, 2014, due to the nature of their processions on public roads.
According to him, a post mortem test was conducted on one IMN member and an Army officer who lost their lives in the clash, noting that one Army officer, Col. Babayo, was stabbed by a woman in a Mosque when he tried to use the power of language and religion to talk to them in peace.
While recounting witnesses’ statements, the General Officer Commanding 1 Div Kaduna, Maj-General Adeniyi Oyebade, pointed out that he gave the directives of minimal necessary force to curtail what has happened to avoid total breakdown of law and order in Zaria.
He added that, “I saw hundreds of young men/women holding weapons like cutlass, garriors, and bows/arrows, while chanting. From a distance and from my assessment, that was a serious threat for us and stability of Zaria people. Immediately, I ordered my officers to secure Husainiyya, Gyellesu (residence of Zakzaky) and Dambo (small shrine) for cordon and search where I emphasize the rules of engagement and recovering of weapons.
“Because of the importance we placed on the leader of the group, we made every effort to contact him and it failed. But on the early hours of Monday 14th, we were able to recover the leader from his residence with his wife out of Zaria after he surrendered.”
On injuries inflicted on Zakzaky, Oyebade said Zakzaky likely got injured in the course of the operation, adding that on the Army side, one live was lost and six others injured.
According to him, Zakzaky was given the best medical treatment at the military medical facility, while about 300 members of the Shiite that surrendered were handed over to police.
Acting Provost Marshall of the Nigeria Army, Brigadier General Ayuba Tet Hamman, and Acting Army director on public Relations, Col. Sani Kukashekau Usman, recalled their experiences similar to what other parties of the military testified.
Meanwhile, chairman of the Commission at the end of the hearing, adjourned sitting to Thursday, and said, “IMN is supposed to make their presentation tomorrow (Thursday) – that still remains in case they change their mind and appear. But in case they fail to appear, the Kaduna State government and all the other parties who will be represented by Mr. Sani Kato will make their presentations,” he posited.