Colonel L. Benjamin has written a letter inviting Sheikh Zakzaky to appear before his Military Board of Inquiry or send a representative. He is the chairman of the board.
The Sheikh sent a representation of Dr Abdullahi Danladi with three others to assist him. Also two human right activists followed them as observers. The sitting took place at Sabon Gari Local Government headquarters on Thursday 14 August 2014. It lasted for about four hours. Dr Danladi presented to the Colonel the Sheikh’s reply to an earlier letter of invitation. It was read by all the four members of the military panel before commencing the sitting.
Sheikh Zakzaky’s letter is self explanatory. It gave clear idea of the content of the colonel’s earlier invitation. Here is the full text of the letter:
The Chairman 12th August, 2014
Board of Inquiry (BOI)
Nigerian Army Corps of Military Police
Sitting in Zaria
Peace upon those who follow the guidance,
Re-Letter of Invitation
Your letter with above title is referred.
In it you invited me to either appear or send a representative to your board of inquiry “to unravel the circumstances that led to” what you called “exchange of fire” between soldiers and what you termed “followers of Shi’ah Islamic Sect” during a procession in Zaria!
Going through these lines it appears you have already written your report before making any inquiry. You have already concluded that there was an “exchange of fire” between two parties! On one part you have the soldiers and on another you have “followers” of a certain “sect”!
Please be informed that I do not believe in sect, I have never been a member or follower of a sect, I am not one and I will never ever be. Similarly all the thirty-three people murdered including my three undergraduate sons and over fourty injured are not followers of a sect. In none of my speeches or writings for the last fourty years one can deduce the idea of referring us to the idea of a sect. It will be mischief on the part of anyone to call us with names we do not call ourselves with.
As for International Quds Day celebrations participants cut across religions, faiths and ideologies. In Europe and the Americas participants include Muslims, Christian, Communists and even Jews including some Rabbis who support Palestine’s cause. In Nigeria Muslims and Christians including some pastors took part in the procession on 25th July 2014.
What took place in Zaria on that fateful day was a massacre by soldiers against citizens they were employed to protect. Anyone who attempts to cover up or justify the actions of these killer soldiers will be a partner in their crime.
While I do not expect you to be an umpire in investigating a crime committed by your colleagues in uniform, all the same, I am sending a representation of Dr Abdullahi Danladi, a University don, to be assisted by Sheikh Abdulhamid Bello, Chairman of Shuhada (Martyrs) Foundation, Dr Shuaibu Musa, a physician, and Barrister Bello Jahun, a legal practitioner.
I appreciate your kind regard and respect but I also expected a word of condolence.