The Kaduna State Government on Monday released White Paper on the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the December 2015 clashes betweenthe Army and members of the Islamic Movement inNigeria (IMN) in Zaria.
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry which examinedhad, among other issues, the immediate and remote causes of the clashes between the Nigerian Army and the outlawed IMN, submitted its report in July 2016.
The white paper report recommended the prosecution of members of the Nigerian Army who may have been involved in the unlawful killing of 347 citizens duringthe clashed.
Releasing the report to Journalists at a media briefing in Kaduna government House, the Spokesman to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, Mr. Samuel Aruwan said “the IMN is an insurgent group and ought to be treated as such”.
While acknowledging that the Nigerian Army abided by its Rules of Engagement during the clash, th State Government noted the recommendation that “members of the Nigerian Army that may have been involved in the unlawful killing of 347 citizens should be brought to trial before a Court of competent jurisdiction.“
“The Kaduna State Government is assured that the Federal Government will not condone unlawful killing of any citizen and that this conduct will be further investigated and any culprits identified will first be subjected to court martial by the federal authorities, followed by civil prosecution by the state government,”said the report.
The White Paper which sets out the views and decisions of Kaduna State government on all the recommendations that have been made to it by the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, said all recommendations that are within the purview of the Kaduna State Government can be accepted, noted or rejected.
Regarding the clashes in the Gyallesu area of Zaria where the Nigerian Army mounted a cordon and search operation, the White Paper observed that many civilians were evacuated from Gyallesu, but that IMNmembers rejected the opportunity to vacate the area,adding that the “shia numbers of IMN members congregating in Zaria from across the country that night, with many bearing arms, was such that the Nigerian Army was in no position to accurately determine how armed and organised they were and had to be concerned on what their intention for Zaria was.”
The White Paper said the Judicial Commission of Inquiry failed to take into account the years during which the activities of the IMN in Gyallesu had threatened peace and security.
“The evidence before the Commission, from the testimonies and memoranda submitted to it by the various interest groups and stakeholders, clearly shows that IMN has become a law unto itself; disregarding the authority of the Nigerian State as vested in the police and other security agencies which many a times lead to several confrontations such as the one of 12th to 14th December, 2015 between it and the Nigerian Army;
“All incidents of violence and aggression by the members of the IMN against individuals, groups or communities, which have resulted in grievous bodily harm, destruction of properties and deaths, should be fully investigated and culprits brought to book. Where appropriate, compensations should be paid;
“The State Government should investigate and repossess all illegally acquired public lands from IMN and utilize same for Public Interest;
“Without any hesitance, government must demonstrate the necessary political will to proscribe the existing IMN as an unregistered and unlawful association,” the white paper added.
The report directed the Attorney-General of Kaduna State in liaising with the police and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that there is accountability for the murders and other crimes committed by leaders and members of the IMN in the last three decades.
The White Paper rejected any suggestion that the burial of the victims did not conform to the law. “Government observes that its officials complied with the Burial Law of the State. Section 7 sub-section 1 of the Burial Law Cap 20 Laws of Kaduna State Government 1991 requires the burial of persons who die in this type of circumstances within 24hrs. The Interpretation section of Rule 115 Geneva Convention also states that in circumstances of this nature, dead bodies could be buried in a mass grave.”
The White Paper also rejected the Judicial Commission of Inquiry’s view on actions taken to clear structures at the scenes of the clashes, affirming that tje debris at the HussainiyyaBaqiyatillah and at the residence of Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky were removed on the grounds of Public Health and safety.
The state government exppained that “all the IMN buildings that were demolished were constructed without statutory title and building permit as required by the Land Use Act and Section 26 of the KASUPDA Law No.12 of 2015.
“The said Laws empower the Agency (KASUPDA) under Sections 46 and 48(2) to demolish any building which did not comply with the legal provisions. All the structures so removed violated either the provisions of the Land Use Act or the KASUPDA Law or both.
“The sad events of 12-14 December 2015 led to needless and avoidable casualties. They are the product of a legacy of lawlessness, and must never be allowed to recur. Decades of neglect by governments and the security agencies of their obligations for vigorous law enforcement and the protection of constitutional rights have bred a dangerous sense of impunity and disregard for citizens and lawful authority.“
“The right to freedom of worship is a cherished constitutional right. But the constitution did not bestow on anyone or group the right to curtail the rights of others or to apply the right to faith in a way that diminishes or inconveniences others.
“Any insistence that religion or religious rites can only be practised as acts of public nuisance and in wanton violation of the rights of others will not be allowed. Every group and individual must abide by the law. There is no opt-out from this civilised duty.“
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