Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai announced today that the final report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the December 2015 massacre of Shiite Muslims by the Nigerian will be made public in the interest of transparency.
Mr. El-Rufai made this announcement while receiving the long-awaited report form the commission. The Judicial Commission of Inquiry was chaired by Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba.
"In the interest of transparency, the Kaduna State Government intends to make the final report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Zaria clashes available to the public in the shortest possible time, even while the whitepaper process is ongoing," Mr. El-Rufai said.
Mr. El-Rufai also stated that the report, which has been classified as Top Secret, would be evaluated for security implications before making it public.
These announcements follow mounting criticism and anxiety that the Kaduna State authorities and Nigerian army officials would not objectively carry out their investigation of the Zaria massacre.
It will be recalled that the Nigerian army murdered several hundred Shiite Muslims in December when followers of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) obstructed a military convoy carrying Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai. The military, following a clash with some members of the IMN, brutalized the Shiite community in Zaria for several days, which included stacking corpses in the street and later dumping several hundred bodies into a mass grave later identified by Amnesty International.
The Nigerian army also targeted Shiite leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky who eventually received several gunshot wounds to his body, including his abdomen, and later lost his eye due to the brutal encounter. Many of Mr. Zakzaky’s family were also killed during the raid on his home which lasted several days. In addition to the murder of hundreds of people, no less than 350 according to Amnesty International, numerous religious sites of worship were intentionally destroyed.
Despite these criticisms, Mr. El-Rufai said that "we have no interest other than the solemn duty to uphold law and order, ensure security and protect the lives and rights of our citizens."
He added that, "I assure you all that this final report will be diligently studied to ensure that the lessons are properly digested; the appropriate whitepaper conveying government decisions on the recommendations of the inquiry is issued promptly and the necessary follow-up actions are taken."
Skeptics, including sources from the IMN speaking to SaharaReporters, have said that they are concerned that the Kaduna State government, Mr. El-Rufai, and the military officers involved will try to conceal their crimes from the public eyes. IMN representatives have stated that the Judicial Commission of Inquiry was not pursuing their role as objective investigators with the authenticity needed to provide justice.
IMN and other human rights groups have also demanded that Mr. Zakzaky be released from military custody.
It will be recalled that SaharaReporters reported that the military was reluctant to release Mr. Zakzaky because of the severe injuries he received from them.