By Dr Musa
Having gone through the executive summary of the Judicial Commission (JUDCOM) of Inquiry into the Zaria massacre one cannot but reject the report as absurd, biased & unacceptable. The report essentially blamed the victims when their own side of the story was never heard. This is absurdity taken to new heights.
The report even went as far as to ‘indict’ Shaikh Zakzaky without hearing his side of the story. This must be a new peak of injustice ever.
A quick dissection of the “report” shows that it is filled with so many fallacies and we have to sieve the grains from the chaff. Overall, it is a complete charade. We must unmask the criminals responsible for the genocide.
From their opening paragraph, the Kaduna state Judicial Commission of Inquiry clearly indicated where they lean when they stated that: “In December 12thto 14th2015, hundreds of people were killed in Zaria following clashes between the Nigerian Army (NA) and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).” The assumption here is that what happened that eventful weekend was a clash, and they repeatedly use the word to make everyone accept that it was a clash.
Let us analyse their recommendations as given in the Executive Summary. The so-called recommendations are in bold typeface and our remarks follow each recommendation:
*THE KADUNA STATE GOVERNMENT*
i) *Considering the nature and organizational structure of the IMN, where the leader has the total control over the members, Sheikh Ibraheem EI-Zakzaky should be personally held responsible for all the acts of commission and omission of the entire membership of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria in its clashes with the Nigerian Army for refusing to call his members to order when required to do so.*
This is most unfair. This recommendation was based on alleged phone calls by Governor or some military officers. Shaikh Zakzaky was not given the chance to either confirm or refute that he received any phone call. It is gross miscarriage of justice to indict someone (victim) based on what one party (in this case the assailant) said. By virtue of Section 36 (2) of the Nigerian Constitution, no government can hold anyone guilty of any offence or wrongdoing without affording him or her an opportunity to react to the allegation. Shaikh Zakzaky has been denied access to his lawyers and was effectively denied a voice at the JUDCOM.
ii) *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.*
This is yet another example of travesty of justice. There was nowhere in the report that showed any incident of proven violence and aggression by members of the IMN against individuals, groups or communities. In the course of the public hearing, some paid agents were contracted to throw spurious allegations against the IMN, including cases that had been long decided by appropriate courts up to appeal courts and settled in favour of IMN members. JUDCOM is swallowing everything thrown at it – line, hook and sinker – without making attempts at any verification.
iii) *The State Government should investigate and repossess all illegally acquired public lands from IMN and utilize same for Public Interest.*
This recommendation has no basis in their report. There was never an instance where IMN was shown to have illegally acquired public lands. So how does the state government investigate an offence that has not been committed? Clearly, this is part of the original hidden agenda and pre-doctored report handed to the JUDCOM by those with vested interests in our property. It is noteworthy that the Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai had similarly alleged the same in his ill-fated state broadcast in the wake of the assault. At the public hearing however, he changed gear and alleged that the structures were so damaged that they posed public health hazards and that was why they were destroyed. The report had obviously forgotten to change this aspect of the report to toe the new official position.
iv) *IMN should be made to conform to all constitutional requirements and the provisions of other by-laws in obtaining land, building or acquiring structures. It must conform to all building regulations, however, whenever and wherever it so desires to build or acquire land or property.*
This is just about similar to the last ‘conjecture’ by the JUDCOM. They never showed or proved that IMN did not conform to what they termed ‘all constitutional requirements’ in obtaining land, building or acquiring structures, yet they can ‘recommend’ this. What manner of Commission!
v) *All the dangerous weapons recovered from the IMN members should be turned over to the Police for further necessary action.*
This is yet another subtle but dangerous suggestion they call ‘recommendation’ by the JUDCOM. What dangerous weapons were recovered from IMN? They should have enumerated them for the world to see. The whole of the inquiry was a sham right from the outset. This recommendation is at variance with what they wrote in the main report on page 54, “The cordon and search however did not reveal significant quantities of weapons found. The assumption that the IMN in Zaria was heavily armed was not verified.”
vi) *The Government should deal with the IMN in accordance with the laws and regulations of the land and be made to conduct its activities and affairs within the ambit of the law at all times.*
This recommendation is ambiguous. How was the government dealing with the IMN? How does the conduct of activities by the IMN get out of the ambit of the law at any time? If they found any specific instance they should have mentioned.
vii) *Intelligence reports by security agencies regarding threats to security, law and order should be taken seriously and acted upon timeously to nip in the bud such occurrence.*
Their so-called intelligence reports should be based on facts and be the truth. The so-called intelligence community is the greatest threat to security, law and order. They concoct spurious stories and return them as ‘intelligence’ reports. We have seen several baseless allegations being ferried as intelligence.
viii) *Mechanism should be put in place for the proposed Bill on Religious Preaching to be passed into law as quickly as possible and implemented with a view to purging Religious Groups which embark on provocative teachings and preaching.*
Kaduna state governor has found a convenient way of re-introducing his controversial Bill on Religious Preaching. It really matters not to IMN whether or not it is passed into law as we all know the preachers who embark on provocative teachings and practices. The governor and the Nigerian Army in the wake of this massacre even engaged their services to justify the brutal assault.
ix) *Compensation should be paid to all those persons who complained before the Commission that their properties were either destroyed or damaged as a result of the clash.*
Another very laughable recommendation by the JUDCOM. Compensation to be paid to only those who complained before the JUDCOM? The government was responsible for all destruction and must be held to account by fully paying all compensations whether or not people complained. The government cannot destroy people’s property and expect them to beg to be paid compensation.
x) *The Government should make effort to reduce the number of idle hands that might otherwise be willing recruits for the Movement by providing employment to the teaming masses of the State.*
The Movement is not composed of “idle hands.” We can proudly state that no member of the IMN is a beggar on the street. However, the government should do what its primary responsibility to its citizens.
xi) *The prospects of constructive engagement with the leadership of the IMN should not be foreclosed.*
Once this will be based on respect and dignity, this will be feasible.
xii) *The State Government should ensure that investigations against all persons under detention in respect of these clashes between the NA and the IMN on 12th— 14thDecember, 2015 are concluded and treated expeditiously.*
Another very unfair recommendation by JUDCOM. You term the unjustifiable assault on civilian population by well-armed soldiers with sophisticated weapons a “clash”. Victims were abducted and unjustifiably detained while the soldiers who carried out the massacre walk freely about, and then a so-called Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up would come up with this absurd recommendation? “Investigations against all persons under detention” means that the few victims that didn’t die but were taken alive by the assailants be further persecuted. Those who carried the attack would not be investigated since no one is detained among them.
*THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT:*
i) *The Commission is of the view that the use of excessive force by the Nigerian Army, which led to the heavy casualties recorded in the Cordon and Search Operation is an act of commission for which the NA is directly responsible. The Commission therefore recommends that steps should immediately be taken to identify the members of the NA who participated in the killings of 12th— 14th December 2015 incident with a view to prosecuting them.*
This is very much below expectations. This recommendation only seeks to shield many people that might have been culpable.
ii) *The Federal Government should ensure that investigations against all persons under detention in respect of this clashes between the NA and the IMN on 12th— 14thDecember, 2015 are concluded and treated expeditiously.*
We have commented on this also.
iii) *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.*
We have also earlier commented on this above.
iv) *Considering the nature and organizational structure of the IMN, where the leader has the total control over the members, Sheikh lbraheem EI-Zakzaky should be personally held responsible for all the acts of commission and omission of the entire membership of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria in its clashes with the Nigerian Army for refusing to call his members to order when required to do so. *
This we have earlier commented on. A one-sided trial will only have a single conclusion.
v) *The Federal Government should explore diplomatic means to dissuade other Countries from interfering in the Internal Affairs of Nigeria.*
This recommendation is vague but clearly has mischief intended. JUDCOM should have been specific about what countries were interfering with the “Internal Affairs of Nigeria” in this instance. They should have been very specific about what they considered the Internal Affairs of Nigeria and what in their minds constituted interference. It is observed that several countries sent representatives to monitor proceedings of the JUDCOM itself. The US Ambassador was quoted as saying that Shaikh Zakzaky is a man of peace. The Saudi Monarch was quoted as sending a congratulatory note to the President of Nigeria saying the Zaria attack was a fight against terrorism. Many countries spoke either for or against the issues before them. There were also global rallies and protests on this matter. JUDCOM therefore needed to be clearer what they meant, perhaps then we would be able to give an appropriate response.
vi) *The prospects of constructive engagement with the leadership of the IMN should not be foreclosed.*
We have commented on this earlier.
vii) *The Government should deal with the IMN in accordance with the laws and regulations of the land and be made to conduct its activities and affairs within the ambit of the law at all times.*
See the comment on this replica recommendation above.
viii) *Members of the IMN should never be allowed to carry any unlicensed weapon under any guise. Whosoever found so doing should be prosecuted immediately.*
IMN has a matter of principle never ever contemplated carrying of weapons. But this recommendation was added to indelibly paint at the back of minds of people that IMN carries weapons. Forget that they said in their own report that: “The assumption that the IMN in Zaria was heavily armed was not verified.” It is well embedded in the report that many people would not bother to read beyond the recommendations
ix) *All the dangerous weapons recovered from the IMN members should be turned over to the Police for further necessary action.*
This again is repeated here. Our comment above suffices
x) *Intelligence reports by security agencies regarding all threats to security, law and order should be taken seriously and acted upon timeously to nip in the bud such occurrences.*
Our position on the so-called ‘intelligence’ is clearly stated earlier.
xi) *The Federal Government should have the political will to deal with such threats posed by the IMN and similar groups. Testimonies at the proceedings of the Commission by various stakeholders, pointed to non-implementation of the recommendations of previous reports of other Commissions of Inquiry relating to the IMN and other groups who were found to have posed grave threats to law, order and peaceful coexistence. Of particular relevance were the Galtimari and the Sheikh Lemu Presidential Commission pertaining to Boko Haram insurgency.*
Another subtle but damaging and injurious recommendation given by the JUDCOM. This would suggest that the IMN poses threat to the Federal Government. Without coming up with any evidence whatsoever besides what persons and groups ideologically opposed to IMN told them or what their arm-chair consultants posited without empiric evidence. Bringing in reports of Galtimari and Sheikh Lemu here was to add effects to the fairytale.
xii) *The Federal Government should be proactive in its dealing with threats posed by groups such as the IMN.*
Again this would suggest that the IMN poses threat to the Federal Government, without coming up with any evidence whatsoever. It is repeated to make it sink!
xiii) *The Federal Government Agencies should respond positively to requests for information by Commissions of Inquiry such as this Commission to enable it make informed decisions or come to a firm findings on issues based on credible data held by them that is not in the public domain.*
Clearly this appears to have been the problem with the JUDCOM. They were denied access with the truthful information and consequently they could not make informed decisions or come to firm findings on the matters at stake based on credible data. They had to make do with “speculations” and what is “widely believed” by people opposed to one of the parties. The end result is a shambolic report before us now.
xiv) *The Federal Government should ensure the presence of the Nigeria Police and other Security Agencies in every community and other flash point areas for effective maintenance of law and order.*
There is nothing wrong with this as long as they don’t consider citizens as their enemies.
xv) *Efforts should be made by the Police Authorities to revisit the system of Nigeria Mobile Police Force Unit, as it was in the yesteryears, so that involvement of the Military in the management of civil disorder would be minimized.*
The military has no role in civil matters in accordance to International best practices.
xvi) *The Police Authority should ensure that recruitment into the Force should be done on merit, suitability and good character as the Nigeria Police of today contains all manner of characters.*
Very important responsibility of government. The failure of government to fulfil this responsibility breeds men and officers who regard citizens as their primary enemies.
xvii) *The Federal Government should ensure professionalizing the Nigeria Police and other Security Agencies through capacity building, procurement of civil disorder management equipment and improved welfare.*
This is a primary duty of government.
xviii) *The Security Agencies should ensure ‘watch listing’ of IMN members ?,rid other persons of security interests, whenever they are going out of or coming back into Nigeria with a view to discovering the sources of their funding, foreign contacts and other relevant and useful information.*
This we completely reject. ‘Watch listing’ of IMN members simply because they are IMN members is grossly discriminatory and a violation of their right to privacy, travel and association. This is not acceptable in any form.
xix) *The Federal Government should not ignore the touted boast by the IMN that it has its members all across the security services who feed it with counter intelligence.*
IMN does not boast of membership in any particular sphere of life distinct from what obtains in the whole of the society. Every member of IMN performs his duties as a member of any profession he/she finds him/herself diligently just like any non-IMN member would. To single out IMN members in any profession and tag them as feeding IMN with counter intelligence is stigmatizing and discriminatory.
xx) *The Security agencies aside having an effective synergy should further strengthen their intelligence gathering mechanism in respect of the activities of the group so as to ensure prompt and timely interventions.*
We have earlier commented on “intelligence” above. Intelligence should be factual, devoid of prejudice and bias.
xxi) *The Federal Government should facilitate the establishment of Community Policing in its real sense in Nigeria with a view to curbing immediately any breach of law and order in any Community.*
xxii) *The Federal Government should ensure that it develops and implement properly intelligence driven operation policies for the country.*
We have earlier commented on “intelligence” above.
xxiii) *The Federal Government should review the adequacy of the existing rules of engagement pertaining to internal security operations and bring them into conformity with constitutional stipulations and in accord with democratic norms and humanitarian best practices.*
We strongly believe that the Military has no role in civilian territory in accordance to International best practices. In that way they can be prevented from turning their guns on the citizens they are made to protect. We would again here re-echo what Shaikh Zakzaky said at the inception of this regime that, the government must restructure and re-orient the Nigerian soldiers so that they stop seeing civilian citizens as their enemies. (See Leadership on Jun 8, 2015 By Isaiah Benjamin Leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky has advised the new government under president Muhammadu Buhari to re-constitute and re-orientate the Nigerian army in order not to inherit ‘an army that sees citizens as enemies’.)