Army/Shi’ite Clash: Panel Summits Report to Gov. El-Rufai

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By; AMOS TAUNA, Kaduna.

The Justice Mohammed Lawal-Garba led Kaduna State Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the December,  2015 bloody clash between the Nigerian Army and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), otherwise known as Shi’ites’,  submitted its reports to the  State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai on Friday.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, was said to be on his way to the Passing Out Parade of the Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria, when the IMN, gathered to observe a religious rite, allegedly blocked the road and refused the Army Chief a passage, despite alleged pleas by some army officers.

The incident led to alterations between the two groups, with the army claiming that the Shi’ite group attempted to assassinate the Army Chief.

The state government, had on 29 January, 2016 in the wake of that clash which claimed several lives in Zaria, Kaduna State, inaugurated the panel to unravel the circumstances that led to the clash.

While submitting the reports to the governor at Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House, Kaduna, the Chairman said the panel received 3,500 memoranda within and outside the state  during its sittings.

He said one of the parties, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria failed to appear before the panel for reasons best known to them even as a counsel to the sect had participated at the commencement of its sitting.

Justice Garba noted that failure of the IMN to appear before the panel had resulted in the prolong adjournments of the committee leading to seeking for extension of time to complete its assignment.

Garba explained, “We started our first public sitting in February about three or four weeks after the inauguration because of our pledge to provide adequate and reasonable opportunity that is fair and just particularly to parties that directly involved in the incidence that we were investigating.

“We conducted meetings …..that was the resolve we had to ensure that one of the parties, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria was accorded every opportunity to appear before the commission and

presents its own side of the incidence.

 

“They did not appeared, they were represented by a counsel at the initial stage of the proceedings and for no reason known to the commission, the counsel decided to opt out.

 

“I said there was no reason known to the commission because there was no formal communication to the commission on why they decided not to continue their appearance before the commission. However, like everybody else we were reading on newspapers, onlines and other avenues that they did not want to appear and they are not going to appear,” Justice Garba explained.

 

In his remarks shortly after receiving the commission’s report, Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, said that the report would be diligently studied to ensure that the lessons are properly digested.

 

“The appropriate White Paper conveying government decisions on the recommendations of the Inquiry is issued promptly and the necessary follow-up actions are taken,” he noted.

 

Governor El-Rufai added that in the interest of transparency, government intended to make the final report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Zaria clashes available to the public in the shortest possible time, even while the white paper process is ongoing.

 

The governor added that the report had been classified top secret, government shall evaluate the security implication before making the report public.

 

According to the governor, “The Kaduna State government expected to receive the final report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry six weeks after its first public sitting. But, following requests from the Commission, extensions had to be granted to enable all relevant parties to appear before the Inquiry.

 

“Although the Judicial Commission of Inquiry has powers to invite and compel the appearance of anybodyor institution, the Commission decided not to compel attendance, opting for adjournments to encourage appearance.

 

“On behalf of the Government and people of Kaduna State, I wish to thank all the distinguished men and women who accepted to serve as members of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry.

 

“We are also grateful to Commission Secretary, Dr Bala Bubaji, and Malam Yusuf Ali, SAN, for his contributions as Counsel to the Inquiry. We acknowledge the efforts of Utaz Yunus Usman, SAN, assistant counsel to the Commission, and AU Mustapha, counsel to the State Government whom we congratulate on his elevation to the rank of SAN.

 

“I assure you all that this Final Report will be diligently studied to ensure that the lessons are properly digested, the appropriate White Paper conveying government decisions on the recommendations of the Inquiry is issued promptly and the necessary follow-up actions are taken.

 

“In the last three and half decades, Kaduna State has suffered
too much from at least 10 rounds of ethnic and religious violence. We hope that the Inquiry process, and the Final Report that you have presented today will help ensure that the legacy of violent disorder, and the catastrophic toll in lives and property, are firmly consigned to the past.”

 

Governor El-rufai further said, “In the interest of transparency, the Kaduna State government intended 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 White Paper process is ongoing.

 

“However, noting that the report has been classified Top Secret, we shall evaluate the security implication before making the
report public. Making the report available to the public is but a
natural consequence of the decision to subject the Zaria events to an inquiry.

 

“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”

 

“As I stated at the inauguration of the Inquiry, the government hereby restates the necessity for all groups and persons to be unambiguous about their allegiance to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to respect the prerogatives of state institutions, to abide by the laws of the country and to exercise their right to freedom of thought and to practice their faith in ways that do not infringe on the rights and conveniences of other citizens,” The governor said.

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