The Kaduna State Government has announced the composition of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into last month’s clash in Zaria between the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and the Nigerian Army.
Human Rights Watch said at least 300 members of the Shi’a group were massacred by the Nigerian military, which claimed the sect members made an attempt on the live of its army chief, Tukur Buratai.
President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to comment on or probe the killings, saying he was awaiting the outcome of investigation by Kaduna government.
But at a media chat December 30, Mr. Buhari said the Shi’a group constituted a “state within a state”.
In a statement Saturday, signed by his spokesman, Samuel Aruwan, Gov. El-Rufai said members of the commission would be inaugurated next week.
The judicial commission of inquiry is established under Section 2 of the Kaduna State Commission of Inquiry Law, 1991.
“Malam Nasir El-Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State, has signed the instrument establishing the commission of inquiry. The inquiry, which is expected to submit its final report six weeks after its first public sitting, has several terms of inquiry. These include to determine the immediate causes of the clashes, examine the historical circumstances and contributory factors of the clashes and to ascertain the number of persons killed, wounded or missing during the clashes. The commission of inquiry will also identify the actions of persons, institutions, federal and state actors, and determine whether such actions were necessary, appropriate and sufficient in the circumstances in which they occurred.
“In a state-wide broadcast last month, Governor El-Rufai had promised to establish a judicial commission of inquiry into the Zaria clashes, as a matter of utmost importance to the public interest. During the broadcast, the governor regretted the loss of lives and detailed what the Kaduna State Government had learnt about the immediate build-up to the clashes. The government also took steps to begin the prosecution of the people that were arrested during the clashes for crimes, including obstruction of public highways and possession of dangerous weapons. The women and juveniles among the detainees were swiftly processed and released.
“Furthermore, the Kaduna State Government acted to ensure that the sites of the clashes did not constitute sources of public peril after the army withdrew from them. Glass shards, twisted metal and concrete were cleared from the sites and the buildings that were considered structurally unsound following the clashes were removed. In the process of clearing the sites of the clashes, three persons were rescued from the rubble.
“Since the unfortunate incident, the Kaduna State Government has been discharging its obligations to promote the public welfare. There was no reason at any point to put governance in abeyance or to abdicate the responsibility of the government to enforce the law and uphold security. Neither was it necessary for the Kaduna State Government to speak and act as if it was not in possession of any facts relevant to the matter. Government has to acknowledge as much when a building has been put up without evidence of title or the necessary planning approvals; and the state has to initiate prosecutions when valid laws have been broken. It is not in the public interest for government to decline its duty.
“The members of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Zaria clashes were chosen for their professional competences as lawyers, jurists, scholars of religion, human rights activists, security experts and media practitioners.
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry, which will be inaugurated next week, has the following membership:
Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba – Chairman. Justice Garba is the presiding justice of the Port Harcourt division of the Court of Appeal.
Prof. Salihu Shehu -Commissioner. Professor Shehu lectures at the Bayero University, Kano.
Prof. Umar Labdo – Commissioner. Professor Labdo teaches in the Faculty of Humanities, Northwest University, Kano.
Malam Salihu Abubakar – Commissioner. Malam Abubakar is a former director of the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Prof. Auwalu Yadudu – Commissioner. He is an accomplished professor of Law, and former Special Adviser on Legal Matters during the Abacha government.
Prof. Ibrahim Gambari – Commissioner. Professor Gambari is a former minister of Foreign Affairs. He was also Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, and headed the UN department of Political Affairs. He is often consulted on African Affairs, Peacekeeping and Global Security.
Mr. Afakriya Gadzama – Commissioner. Mr. Gadzama, a career intelligence professional, is a former Director-General of the Department of State Services, where he served in various positions, including as Kaduna State director of the agency.
Brigadier-General Aminun-Kano Maude (rtd) – Commissioner. General Maude is a retired Deputy Director, Army Finance and Accounts. He holds a Ph.D in Accountancy.
Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim – Commissioner. Dr. Ibrahim is a well-known academic, civil society leader and columnist. He taught politics at the Ahmadu Bello University, and has researched and written about religion.
Mrs. Khadijah Hawaja Gambo – Commissioner. Mrs. Gambo is a gender rights activist, social entrepreneur and conflict resolution expert active in Plateau and neighbouring states. She is fluent in Arabic.
Mr. Bilya Bala – Commissioner. Mr. Bala is an accomplished banker, management consultant and journalist.
Major-General Alexander Anjili Mshelbwala – Commissioner. General Mshelbwala is a retired infantry general knowledgeable in civil-military relations and counter-insurgency. He is a one-time Military Secretary of the Nigerian Army.
Mrs. Desire Deseye Nsirim CP (Rtd.) – Commissioner. Mrs. Nsirim was a distinguished police officer. She retired after serving as the commissioner of police of Niger State.
Dr. Bala Babaji has also been appointed the Secretary to the Commission. He is currently the Director of the Centre for Islamic Legal Studies, Institute of Administration of the Ahmadu Bello University. He will be assisted in the discharge of his functions by a secretariat with experts drawn from academia, civil society, private sector and the public service of the state and the Federation.
The Kaduna State Government consulted widely with the governments of the 19 Northern States and the Federal Government in a bid to identify credible, independent and impartial persons knowledgeable in various aspects that the Inquiry is expected to cover. The government expresses its gratitude to all those that participated in the meticulous process that led to the appointment of the Commissioners and Chairman, and thanks the chairman, membership and secretariat of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry for accepting to serve.