From: Islamic Human Rights Commission
18 October 2017
PRESS RELEASE – Nigeria: Probe into army abuses is incomplete without Zakzaky testimony
Lawyers for the leader of the embattled Islamic Movement of Nigeria have called on the government body set up to review cases of human rights abuses by the military to allow him to address the panel.
The Presidential Investigation Panel on Review of Compliance of Armed Forces with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement began proceedings on September 11 to investigate the countless allegations of war crimes by the country’s armed forces but to date there has been no indication that it will allow IMN leader Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky to testify.
Sheikh Zakzaky has been held without charge and mainly incommunicado following his arrest during a savage military assault against the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) in Zaria in December 2015 in which at least 1000 IMN supporters and members, including three of Zakzaky’s sons, were killed and many properties and religious spaces belonging to the IMN and its followers destroyed. Sheikh Zakzaky’s family home was burned down by the armed forces.
Nobody has been brought to justice for the atrocities and the IMN has already cast doubt on the independence of the panel which is tasked with looking at all military human rights abuses in Nigeria.
Despite the fact that a Judicial commission of inquiry by the Kaduna state government into the massacre on 12-14 December 2015 accused General Officer commanding the Nigerian Army’s 1st Division, Adeniyi Oyebade, of orchestrating the military operation outside the chain of command, he has not yet been arrested let alone charged with any offence.
Sheikh Zakzaky remains in detention along with his wife despite a court order for the release of the couple set by a federal high court judge on 2 December 2016 who ruled their incarceration was illegal and unconstitutional.
The IMN represents the largest single group of victims of the Nigerian military’s human rights abuses which also include arson, looting, rape, hate speeches and campaigns, genital mutilation with aim of limiting reproduction within the group, mass graves, wrongful detention and forced disappearances. A separate army assault in July 2014 against a religious procession led to the deaths of 34 IMN members and supporters including another three sons of Sheikh Zakzaky who were apparently singled out for execution.
IHRC finds it difficult to conceive how the Presidential Panel can ensure justice for the victims if one of the principal victims of military human rights violatons is prevented from testifying.
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Notes to editors:
In March 2016 IHRC petitioned the International Criminal Court to to open a preliminary inquiry into the December 2015 massacre of IMN members.
Our report which we submitted to the ICC can be found here
IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598