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Justice Urged for Victims of Zaria Massacre in Nigeria

Justice Urged for Victims of Zaria Massacre in Nigeria
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By Staff, Agencies

The Academic forum of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria under the leadership of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky released a statement on the 6th anniversary of Zaria massacre in the Nigerian capital Abuja, in which it called for justice for the victims the horrible incident.

The statement, which was released on the occasion a ceremony to mark the 6th anniversary of Zaria massacre in the Nigerian capital Abuja has called for justice for thousands of individuals who had been buried in mass graves, 193 murdered children as well as 23 pregnant women and 39 families who were completely wiped-out from existence following an invasion by the Nigerian security forces on a mourning ceremony of Imam Hussein [AS], the third Shia Imam, in Zaria and the residence of the Shia leader of IMN, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky.

During the raid hundreds of Sheikh Zakzaky’s followers have been killed and injured and the Muslim leader and his wife Zeenat were also seriously injured and detained by the security forces.

The full text of the statement is as follows:

1. It is now six years that an infamous massacre occurred in the famous city of Zaria, Kaduna State. Precisely, it was on Saturday, 12th December, 2015 that a contingent of the Nigeria Security Forces, notably, the Army was deployed to carry out what apparently became clear to all and sundry to be a preplanned assault on the revered leader of the Islamic movement, Sheikh Ibrahim Yaqoub El-Zakzaky and his followers. This dastardly pogrom was mercilessly unleashed for three consecutive days [nonstop] with attendant consequences of mass murders, demolition of landed properties and wanton destruction of both movable and immovable assets, belonging to Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky.

2. The Zaria Massacre occurred with initial conflicting pretexts of road blockade, assassination attempt, creation of a state within state and what not by both its initiators/planners and its executers. For the purpose of record, the general public may recall that immediately after or in the middle of launching the assault, the Nigerian Army claimed that followers of the Sheikh blocked road and denied access right to the erstwhile Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. T. Y. Buratai [now un-ceremoniously sacked] and his entourage who were in Zaria for an assignment. Later, they adduced that it was an assassination attempt on the Army Chief which according to them they tried to repel. These false claims were eventually refuted by the series of events that unfolded in the immediate aftermath of the heinous pogrom and till date. We may recall that during a presidential media parley, General Muhammadu Buhari [rtd] gave another justification for the genocide - small boys beating the chest of a General.

3. By a way of straightening these distorted records and false claims, it is worthy of mention that 12/12/15 coincided with the end of the Islamic Calendar year 1437, when the Islamic movement was holding one of its routine programs of hoisting flag to mark the end of Ashura mourning period and ushering birthday commemoration [Maulud] of the Holy Prophet Muhammad [SAWW] at the movement’s center, Baqiyyatullah Hussainiyya along Sokoto Road, Zaria. All of a sudden, the Army deployed a number of its men and strategically positioned them around the center whilst brothers continued to troop in for the Program. What later happened around 12noon was unprovoked pockets of shootings which later became a spree that escalated to the residence of our leader and later to other premises/sites owned by the leader. These premises are areas of brothers’ usual convergence; thus, many were as well present that day. The concentration of the attack was however at the Gyallesu residence of the Sheikh and the Hussainiyya where people continued to troop for the flag hoisting ceremony. It later became apparent that the army were on an all-out mission by deploying all sorts of arsenals to Gyallesu aiming to kill the Sheikh and possibly exterminate all his followers. Hence, brothers resiliently surrounded the area with a persevering resolve to providing protection to the revered leader. Army’s assault culminated in about 70 hour merciless targeted and random shootings as they continued to advance to Sheikh Zakzaky’s residence.

4. The aim of this advertorial is not in any way to wholly recount the unfortunate experience and the agony of the Massacre which will remain ever-bitter in the minds of all lovers of humanity. Rather, we intend provide yet a brief background and stress our unequivocal call for justice to the victims of undeniably the worst human rights violation ever, in the history of Nigeria! This is bearing in mind today being the Human Rights Day set aside by the United Nations which coincidentally fall barely 48 hours away from the date of launching the Massacre.

5. Zaria Massacre is not only undeniable, so also is the fact that hundreds were killed during the Massacre. It is not the case of the unfortunate Lekki Toll Gate End SARS Movement's clampdown which the FGN recently tried to ridicule the Report of a constituted Panel of Inquiry by the Lagos State Government by rejecting it under certain pretext. As for Zaria Massacre, notable individuals and/or whose family are well known at least within their immediate environment were affected and the movement once published the names of many of them in the past and the list is still available

6. Corroboratively, we would like to mention yet again, a few of those victims/families that were killed and whose identity was at least known within the community they lived, viz:

• Three of Sheikh Zakzaky’s sons, Hammad Ibrahim, Ali Haidar Ibrahim and Humaid Ibrahim were brutally killed right before their parents!

• The representative of the brothers and Sisters of the Islamic movement, Kano chapter. Sheikh Muhammad Mahmoud Turi, a holder of B.Sc. Accounting from University of Maiduguri was also a victim.

• Sheikh Mukhtar Sahabi was also killed by the Army. He was the representative of the brothers and sisters of the Movement in Kaduna.

• Dr. Mustapha Umar Sa’id, the personal physician to Sheikh Zakzaky [H] was killed alongside his three energetic sons, Muhammad Mustapha, Ali Mustapha and Ruhullah Mustapha.

• Three sons of a Kaduna based Engr. Yahaya Gilima, FNSE were martyred during the Massacre. They were in their youthful exuberance at various levels of educational pursuit; Khalid Yahaya Gilima [graduate of Computer Engineering, Green Which University, UK], Mahmud Yahaya Gilima [graduate of Industrial Design, Glass Tech. ABU Zaria and Abdulrahman Gilima [Agricultural Engineering Department, ABU Zaria].

• Bukhari Muhammad Bello Jega was a Ph.D. Political Science student and a part-time lecturer at the University of Abuja who was vibrant in public/political affairs analysis especially social media campaigns. Bukhari Jega, his wife A’isha, a 16 months old daughter Batool and two of his wife's sisters were gunned down during the Massacre.

• Four Children of Dr. Isah Waziri Gwantu, an academic with Mass Communication Department, ABU, Zaria and publisher of Education Monitor Newspaper were also killed. They are Muhammad Waziri, Fatima Waziri Hassan Waziri and Hussaini Waziri, undergraduates of B.Sc. Geography, Computer Science, Diploma in Library Science and Diploma in Business Administration respectively all in ABU, Zaria.

• Malam Abdullahi Abbas Zaria was not only killed, but his six children Abdurrazaq, Abbas, Muhammad, Ahmad, Ibrahim and Jawad Abdullahi Abbas were all killed by the Nigerian Army.

7. The aforementioned is just a tip of the iceberg, excluding the teeming number of those injured at varying degrees either by gunshot, burns etc. The Elder Sister of Sheikh Zakzaky [H] was burnt alive in the Sheikh’s residence, while the case of Mahdi Goronyo who is alive with 3rd degree burns and still carrying fire scar all over his body is another classical example.

8. Furthermore, it is imperative to recall that after the Massacre, many state and non-state actors acknowledged its occurrence much that incontrovertibly, there were victims of the Massacre. In January 2016, the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria set up an ad-hoc Committee to investigate the genocide and submit its report. The Committee led by its erstwhile Defense Committee Chairman, now the President of the Senate Ahmed Lawan visited the affected sites in Zaria. The Nigerian Bar Association [NBA] also set up a similar committee in the same January 2016 and visited Zaria under the leadership of its then President Mr. Austin Alegeh. These among others, are enough pointers, although reports of such committees were never made public even as promises were made to that effect.

9. However, the Judicial Commission of Inquiry [JCI] set up on 29th January, 2016 by the Kaduna State Government submitted a report with among others, a mind burgling revelation that the State Government under Governor Nasir El-Rufa’i assisted the Nigerian Army to mass bury 347 Shiites secretly at night. The Commission recommended among others that steps should immediately be taken to identify members of the Nigerian Army who participated in the killings with a view to prosecuting them.

10. Similarly, Amnesty International [AI] conducted its independent investigation into the Pogrom and came up with damning findings against the Nigerian Army. According to AI in April 2016, satellite footages and witness accounts offer damning evidence that the Military killed hundreds of minority Shiite Muslims during the assault. The public may as well recall the land mark judgment of Hon. Justice Gabriel Kolawale who awarded compensation to Sheikh Zakzaky and Malama Zeenat which is another iron-cast evidence of human rights violation sequel to the Massacre. Our leader and his wife were shot at several times and in multiple places and were left without access to proper medical attention for months and that have continued till date.

11. In our records however, more than 1,000 persons who went to Zaria on that fateful day numerous of whom were also seen at the various scenes of the Massacre never returned to their respective homes/towns. Consequently, and sadly so, many families lost at least three of their members while some families were completely wiped out.

12. In view of the foregoing, while reaffirming our unalloyed disposition to the course of justice everywhere, the Islamic movement wishes to call for same justice to all the victims of the Massacre. We specifically call for immediate and unconditional release of those in various detention facilities, and prosecution of all those who played one role or the other in the Massacre and its aftermath.

13. Moreover, we hereby reiterate our call for the immediate release of the International Passports of both Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife, Malama Zeenat. This is to enable them proceed for medical treatment in any country of their choice where the requisite expertise and appropriate facilities exist.

14. We finally wish to thank all those who in one way or the other stood by us during these difficult times. In the same vein, we call on all discerning minds, lovers of fairness and justice, the international community, media as well as human rights advocates and protectionists to join us in this quest. We should bear in mind the popular saying of Martin Luther King, Jnr. ‘‘Injustice can anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’

Signed by

Prof. I. H. Mshelgaru

For the Academic forum of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria under the leadership of Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky