The Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, has stated that it would only appear before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Kaduna State Government if its leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky, is released from detention.
Mr. Zakzaky and scores of the Shiite movement’s members were arrested after soldiers opened fire on them for daring to block the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, in Zaria.
A siege by the soldiers later that day also led to the demolition of the sect’s spiritual headquarters, and the arrest of Mr. Zakzaky, who was shot alongside his wife.
About 300 members of the sect are believed to have been killed in the attacks which have been condemned by local and international groups including the Human Rights Watch. The military had said the sect’s members planned to assassinate the army chief.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai had on Saturday announced the formation of a 12-member Judicial Commission of Inquiry under the leadership of Justice Mohammed Garba to investigate the circumstances that led to the incident.
The IMN in a statement on Sunday by its spokesperson, Ibrahim Musa, said it would only appear before the commission if Mr. Zakzaky is released unconditionally.
“The Nigerian Government is holding the leader of the Movement incommunicado knowing that he is the custodian of the documents of the Movement and has to give direction to the Movement in the preparation of its Memorandum and the assembling of its witnesses,” the group said.
It also said that apart from releasing its leader, the Nigerian Military and the Nigerian Police must also make a full disclosure of the number of persons in their various detention centres and grant lawyers of the Movement access to all of them.
This, it said, is because the Movement has credible evidence that a large number of its members are still in detention in military facilities and detention centres.
Other conditions given by the Shiites include that “the Nigerian Military and the Nigerian Police must also make full disclosure of the number of persons they took to the various hospitals and the location of the hospitals to enable the lawyers of the Movement have access to them and interview them preparatory to the inauguration of the Commission.
“The Commission of Inquiry must also give full assurance that the members of the Movement that will give evidence will be fully protected.
“The Kaduna State Government and the Kaduna State Police Command must disclose the number of persons it has charged to court and the number of persons it has in prison custody. This is necessary as the Kaduna State Police Command and the Kaduna State Government illegally and in a secret procedure granted detention orders against members of the Movement and herded them to the Kaduna Central Prison without taking any of them before any Magistrate Court. Presently, over 200 members of the Movement are in custody at the Kaduna Central Prison.”
The IMN said it has a list of 730 missing persons that are either killed by the Army or are still in military detention facilities.
It said those in military detention facilities should be released to them and corpses of those killed should be handed over for proper Islamic burial.
On the composition of the panel, IMN said there are some members of the panel that are “clearly neither impartial nor credible having shown open hostility to the movement and its leadership through their utterances, writings or actions in the past.
“Some had even called the government to go for the jugular of the Islamic Movement in the past. The IMN does not see any possibility of fairness and justice from them due to their stance on the Movement and Shia.
“Definitely, their position of arch-enmity with the Movement compromises any fairness from them in this matter. Independent human rights bodies should be included in the commission,” they said.
The movement said the conditions they have given should be fulfilled by Mr. El Rufai to convince the IMN that the state government, which, they said, is also an accomplice to the crime, having ordered the demolition of their property and “deliberately wiped out practical evidences of the army’s brutality on the movement”, is not setting up the enquiry to justify the indictment of the Movement by both the federal and state governments.