The Nigerian Army and the Kaduna State Government on Monday differed on the number of corpses released for mass burial during the December 15, 2015 clash between members of the Shi’ite sect and the Army in Zaria, Kaduna State.
While the government had said at a previous hearing of the Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba-led commission that at least 347 corpses were handed over to its officials by the Army for mass burial, the Army claimed it handed over just a “few” corpses to the government.
The Army refused to release the figures it handed over to the government while testifying before the commission on the Army/Shi’ites clash on Monday.
The Secretary to the Kaduna State Government, Mallam Balarabe Lawal, had at the previous sitting of the commission, said not less than 347 unknown corpses from the last December clash were given a mass burial in Kaduna few days after the clash.
Also, the Director General of Interfaith, Muhammad Musa, had concurred by claiming that he led the burial of the unknown corpses and that it was carried out between 12am and 5am.
Musa had said, “On 13th December, I received a phone call from the Secretary to the State Governor to come to the Government House, after which I was directed to go to Zaria to find out the number of corpses and how they would be buried.
“At the Nigerian Army Depot, the SSG directed me to meet with one Major Ogundare regarding the corpses there. After introducing myself, he refused to let me know the number; but later on, the SSG called me and told me the number.”
However, the Nigerian Army maintained on Monday that few corpses, and not the 347 corpses, were handed over to the government for burial.
At the resumed sitting of the commission on Monday, a medical officer from the Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria, Major Uche Agulana, told the commission that contrary to the state government’s claim that 347 corpses were buried in a mass grave, he handed over few corpses to the representative of the state government.
Agulana, when cross examined by the counsel for the commission to give the actual figure of the dead, said he did not keep the record of the deaths as, according to him, he was busy at that time “trying to save lives that were brought into the hospital.”