EDITORIAL-Shiite Muslims massacre- prosecute culprits
It is no longer news that the Nigerian army gunned down in cold blood many would argue, 348 Shiite Muslims in a confrontation with the sect last year.
In the bloody fight that erupted when the irate sect members blocked an army convoy, one soldier was reported killed.
According to a commission of inquiry report published Monday, all those involved in the indiscriminate killings were recommended for prosecution.
We recall that the members of the Iranian-inspired Islamic Movement in Nigeria reportedly ‘provoked’ the attack that began with a blockade that halted the convoy of Nigeria’s army chief, Lt. Gen. Tukur Burataithe.
In the report released, it was recommended that the Shiite leader Ibraheem Zakzaky be held responsible for ‘refusing to call his members to order.’
The report also went further to say that it was unable to say with certainty how many people died in the three-day military raid in December 2015 in Zaria city on the headquarters, home and a school of Zakzaky’s movement.
It however added that a reported 347 bodies were secretly buried in a mass grave, and one wounded person died in custody.
Aljazirahnews recalls that the Shiite spokesman, Ibrahim Musa has told an Associated Press correspondent that more than 800 people are still missing, including scores in detention.
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria, in fury over what it terms its harassment by the Nigerian state has refused to give evidence to the commission of inquiry because of the continued detention of its leader.
Zakzaky was reportedly shot seven times and blinded in one eye during the attack.
The sect’s repeated protests across the north has been largely ignored by the government.
An obstinate President Muhammadu Buhari has said he will not order Zakzaky’s release, even though the law requires that charges be brought in court within 24 hours of an arrest.
We at aljazirahnews are concerned that the report expresses worry that Nigeria’s Shiite movement may receive support from Iran and Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group, a deadly unit the Nigerian government needs not aggravate especially in the light of its ongoing onslaught with its twin, Boko Haram.
The report equally faults successive Nigerian governments for failing to curtail the activities of the Shiites, who frequently clash with law enforcement by illegally blocking highways to clear the way for processions often involving tens of thousands of people.
Meanwhile the Nigerian military had accused the Shiites of attempting to assassinate Gen. Tukur Buratai, a claim that human rights groups have called unbelievable.
Interestingly the commission of inquiry’s report said there was no evidence that the Shiites were hiding caches of weapons, as the military had accused.
It is high time the Nigerian government take the moral high ground by being objective in tackling issues raised in the report.
For one the report should not be swept under the carpet like other past reports.
For a country that is still battling to get out of the massive destructive phase of the insurgency in the North East, it will not augur well to engender another round of human and material catastrophe by ignoring the dangers, inherent in treating the issue raised in the current report.
We feel the government by setting up the panel to find out what transpired that day between the sect and the military must go further to see that it is not just a formality as many are saying.
The government can start by ensuring that justice is not only done but seen to be done in the ensuing saga.