The Kaduna State government announced on Monday that 347 Shiites were killed by Nigerian troops and buried in mass graves in December 2015. Secretary to the State Government Balarabe Lawal made the announcement during the Public Hearing of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the killings.
Mr. Lawal’s testimony confirms many statements by both Human Rights Watch and the Islamic Movement of Nigerian (IMN) about the existence of a mass grave of Shiite Muslims killed by the Nigerian army.
The Zaria massacre, which took place between December 12th and 14th 2015, saw the Nigerian army rampage against unarmed Shiite civilians killing hundreds and covering up their act by digging mass graves. In addition to the mass graves, the Nigerian army also destroyed shrines, religious sites of importance to the Shiite community, and attacked the home of their leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky. SaharaReporters reported on April 5th that Sheikh Zakzaky, who has been in secret detention since the raid on his home on December 14th, has not been released because the Nigerian government is worried about massive protests by the Shiite community due to his injuries. SaharaReporters reported that Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife Zeenab Ibrahim were shot by the military several times, and that he had his eye removed from the injury. Zeenab Ibrahim was also shot in the abdomen and remains in custody with severe injuries.
SaharaReporters has also released a video of dead Shiite protesters, killed by soldiers in the Nigerian army, being stacked in the streets of Zaria as local looters stole possessions from the deceased pockets.
According to Mr. Lawal, during his statements to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, 191 corpses were taken from the Nigerian Army Depot in Zaria and buried in a mass grave in the Mando area of Kaduna State. Another 156 corpses from Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital in Zaria were also buried in the Mando area.
The Secretary stated further that 40 Nigerian military men supervised the mass burial, which was led by a major in the army. 189 suspects are being prosecuted for their involvement in the massacre, according to Mr. Lawal.
Another witness, Namadi Musa, the Director-General of the Kaduna State Interfaith Agency, stated that burial took place on December 14 and 15 and was authorized by the Kaduna Chief Magistrate’s Court.
In response to the testimonies heard at the Judicial Commission, the IMN asked about the rest of the missing IMN members, stating that the 342 buried in mass graves makes up only half of the missing members.
Ibrahim Musa, the spokesman for the IMN, has repeatedly told the media that their group demands the release of Sheikh Zakzaky so that he can receive adequate medical care.