The protest, called by IHRC, is intended to draw attention to the Nigerian government’s failure to establish any robust mechanisms to investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators of the atrocity which targeted the Islamic Movement of Nigeria.
More than 1000 people are believed to have been killed on 12-14 December 2015 when Nigerian armed forces attacked the movement in its home city of Zaria in northern Nigeria targeting its members and supporters, property, religious places and symbols.
IMN leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat were both shot in the attack and their family home burned down and demolished. Both are currently in the custody of Nigeria’s secret services, detained without charge. Three of their sons were killed in the attack.
The military assault appears to have been pre-planned, highly organised and targeted. During their orgy of violence soldiers targeted the leadership of the IMN and its symbols. They destroyed the Hussainiyyah Baqiyatullah which served as the movement’s headquarters, demolished the premises housing the tomb of Sheikh Zakzaky’s mother and smashed up graves belonging to the victims of another army massacre in July 2014 which led to the killing of 34 civilians, most of them IMN supporters.
The majority of deaths were caused by gunshots fired by soldiers. Some were reportedly burnt alive or hacked to death with machetes and knives. Reports have also emerged of sexual violence by soldiers including cases of rape against women affiliates of the IMN.
The state government in Kaduna has set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) but human rights organisations believe it is not sufficiently independent and impartial to be able to hold those responsible to account, nor is there any reasonable prospect of any prosecutions. However, one key revelation to emerge from the JCI is an admission by the Kaduna state government that it presided over the burials of 374 victims in a mass grave shortly after the attack.
On 21 March 2016, IHRC wrote to the International Criminal Court urging it to investigate the massacre. It called on the international tribunal which has a mandate to prosecute people for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, to open a preliminary enquiry on the grounds that the crimes committed by the Nigerian army meet all the necessary legal requirements to warrant a preliminary investigation by the ICC prosecutor.
President Buhari will be in London to attend a global anti-corruption summit taking place on Thursday, 12 May. In light of this IHRC has planned an emergency protest for the same day from 7.45am to 7pm. The venue is the Lancaster House, Stable Yard, St. James’s, London SW1A 1BB).
Since he assumed office President Buhari has stressed his commitment to upholding the rule of law in Nigeria. However, this commitment would appear to be undermined by the fact that no criminal prosecutions have been brought over the July 2014 or December 2015 massacres and that both Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat continue to be held without charge.
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