EXCLUSIVE: Judicial panel indicts Nigerian Army General, others for Zaria massacre of Shiites

The General Officer Commanding the Nigerian Army’s 1st Division, Adeniyi Oyebade, a major general, authorized last December’s military operation that massacred at least 347 members of the Shi’a Muslim group in Zaria, and should be prosecuted, a judicial commission of inquiry into the killings, has said in its final report.

The commission of inquiry, set up by the Kaduna State government, indicted Mr. Oyebade and other senior army officers for the attack, PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively report.

The panel’s report was submitted to Gov. Nasir el-Rufai on Friday, but its details are yet to be made public.

The killings drew worldwide condemnations, and several investigative reports said hundreds of people were killed by government troops and secretly buried in a mass grave in Zaria, Kaduna State.

The Shi’a Islamic movement said it lost more than a thousand members in the attack that took place between December 12 and 14 at its headquarters in Zaria.

A representative of the Kaduna State government told the commission of inquiry that 347 bodies were handed over by the army for a secret mass burial.

But despite the evidence, the army claimed it killed only seven Shiites who blocked a public road and attempted to assassinate its chief, Tukur Buratai, a lieutenant general.

It said troops only used force after it became clear that Mr. Buratai’s life was in danger.

The leader of the Shi’a group, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who was arrested by soldiers during the operation, has remained in custody seven months after.

The attacks were never condemned by the army hierarchy or the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

After his initial silence, Mr. Buhari later suggested during a televised interview on December 30 that the victims invited the wrath of the military upon themselves by “hitting the chest of generals”.

The report neither apportioned any blame to the federal government nor the army leadership, headed by Mr. Buratai.

Still, its details provide a glimpse into what was clearly a deadly use of disproportionate military force in quelling a civil unrest. The report confirmed that by any measure, the killings took place at a horrific scale.

Shooting through the blockade

The panel said it was able to confirm the death of 349 people, including a soldier. But it made clear it lacked the cooperation of military officials to establish the actual number of those killed.

The commission of inquiry listed culpable actors for civil or criminal prosecution and suggested ways of preventing similar incidents in future.

A copy of the report, exclusively obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, said the GOC of the Army’s 1st Division, Kaduna, Mr. Oyebade, deployed soldiers to carry out such a large scale operation without recourse to the chain of command.

It recommends that Mr. Oyebade and other yet-to-be-disclosed officers who participated in the operation “should be brought to trial before a court of competent jurisdiction”.

The report, which contains 101 pages of correspondences and exhibits, starts with a recap of what transpired on December 12, 2015.

It said the Chief of Army Staff, Mr. Buratai, left Dutse, Jigawa State, at about 11:30 a.m for Zaria, where he was invited to be the reviewing officer at the passing out parade of the 73 Regular Recruits Intake of the Nigerian Army Depot.

Mr. Buratai and his entourage arrived at the Hussainiyya Baqiyyatillah shrine of the Shi’a group along Sokoto Road, Zaria, around 2:20 p.m.

There, the report said, he encountered members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in their hundreds.

A memo submitted by the Nigerian Army said the individuals were armed with “dangerous weapons”.

In a testimony to the commission, an officer in Mr. Buratai’s security detail, said after all entreaties to the protesters to leave the road failed, they decided to “shoot their way through the blockade” to prevent their principal from being attacked.

The next day, the report said, Mr. Oyebade deployed troops to the shrine to arrest the leaders of the Shi’a group, which resulted in the killings.

The panel said it established that the invasion of the IMN compound was carried out strictly on Mr. Oyebade’s order and without any rules of engagement, an action the commission said was at variance with the provisions of the Armed Forces Act, 1994, and the 1999 Constitution, both of which vested such authorities strictly in the president of the federal republic.

“There was no evidence that there was the requisite delegation by the president to the officer who issued oral order for the deployment of the officers and men of the Nigerian Army for the cordon and search operation,” the report said.

The commission rebuked military officers for refusing to give useful information that could have helped it reach a more detailed conclusion, hinting that the number of those killed could have been far higher than 349.

“All the officers who testified were not forthcoming in providing full disclosure on the number of the dead, wounded and missing persons,” the report said.

Similarly, the medical examiner in charge of the bodies kept at Nigerian Army medical facility in Kaduna also withheld support for the judicial panel.

“It is unfortunate that the medical officer in charge of the Nigerian Army Depot Health Centre who took custody of some of the corpses was not forthcoming in giving evidence that would have enabled the commission to ascertain the actual number of people killed,” the report said. “The officer said he didn’t even ascertain the gender of both the adult and children corpses that were deposited in his medical centre.”

The report said the refusal of the Shi’a group, IMN, to appear and give testimony during its sittings, did not help the process in confirming the actual number of casualties.

“Had IMN submitted a memo and appeared before the commission, it might have been able to shed light on the number of their members who might have lost their lives in the clashes.”

Kaduna government undignified treatment of corpses

The commission was unable to determine the causes of death of the deceased victims owing to the mass burial conducted by the state without any autopsy, the report found.

The panel said the burial of all corpses of male and female Muslims in one grave violated Islamic traditions and other relevant burial laws of Kaduna State and Rule 115 of the Geneva Convention.

The commission found members of the IMN culpable in the death of an army officer, Dan Yakubu, a corporal, and recommended that those found culpable in the killing of the officer should be prosecuted.

Still, in a damning verdict, the panel said the force deployed by the army against the Shi’ites was “disproportionate”.

“The Nigerian Army should intensify efforts in ensuring compliance with the rules of engagement and other legal standards in cordon and search operations at all times.”

The report also recommended that soldiers should never be deployed against civilians and that the police should be better equipped for adequate response to public disturbances.


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  • Dejandon

    Story story, story

    • Iskacountryman

      icc hear we come…but that zaky zaky…we go barb him gemu…

  • General Sam Bockerie

    Lol!!!……..and here we go again! Another SW general to be made another scape goat! What about the general whose right of passage triggered the mass killings? What happened to the chain of causation? What about the mass killings at the hussainniyya shrine by Buratai’s convoy after their chest was pushed?? Does it make sense to skip these killings as dignified of death and then proceed to treat the follow-up killings at the shiites Hq as murder? So one can actually walk away with murder depending on the region one comes from? I laugh at my SW brothers that voted for change. Good morning

    • Jay

      You guys are irredeemable.
      I know this panel disappointed so many people.

    • Iskacountryman

      sam my boy…the yaribas know their worth…their job is to say yes sir mallam…

    • tundemash

      village scAvenger General, must everything be coloured with ethnic brush ? Mor0n , did u read the report at all that the chain of command was not followed ? Why not allow the General to defend himself ?
      Cl0wn, it is you and the shoeless creek rats left at the creek while Dumbo was snoring and drunk at Aso Rock that you ought to pity.

      • Otile

        Abubakar tundemash,

        No, with slimy traitors like you the Yoruba people will remain perpetual slaves to the Fulani. There is no creek or Dumbo in this sordid story. Let Buhari and Buratai take responsibility for their actions, it does not make any sense for you to defend them while condemning your innocent brother.

        For goodness sake don’t respond with insults, be reasonable this time. Injustice is not good for anybody in the name of one Nigeria. Let there be justice for all.

        • Samadani

          Congrats Otile for the sudden turn around. You now agree that response with insults is not only sinful but a taboo. I am happy that you are now a born again. Please, preach the gospel to your fellow country men. Thank you.

  • uduakomiri

    Where is loudmouth Twanda in fuckinkado, have you read this report? And what govt instituted this report? Is it not Buhari?

    • Iskacountryman

      sharrap it was the kaduna state government of buhari…

      • uduakomiri

        Out nne gi

    • Rock

      Go siddon jare, Buhari did not commission penny, you hia? He’s an accused in this matter, likewise el Rufai and Buratai. Against odds Rufai, not saviour Buhari, managed to put this up.

      That aside, take note of the report’s claim. Buratai, whose detail opened fire first and killed many got no blame. The only non-Hausa/Fulani is quickly mentioned, others it said “yet-to-be disclosed”. This is another arms panel/ Dambazau/Buratai exemption scandal.

    • Michael

      It was not Buhari but the Kaduna government and only because of international pressure. This alone should mean this government never comes back. Let’s see if the Presidency takes any action or even comments on it. Sickening people.

  • Iskacountryman

    buratai is innocent…that is why we do business with the yaribas…they make good fall guys…

  • JasV

    There should be no scape goat, no fall guy. Nigerian Army must accept responsibility as an institution, apologize, compensate if they are willing to accept, warn against future interference with Military movements and operations and move on.

  • musa aliyu

    With available evidence filed against the Shi’ites in the panel, I doubt if your so-called findings is true. Let’s wait for the government side of the report. I wonder if there’s any nation that will allow its army chief to be chanced by civilians!

    • Rosebud

      Which government side of the story again? No be KD governor set up inquiry, abi KD government and governor don become fake?

      • musa aliyu

        Look @ the story again. It’s obtained “exclusively”. So we await government White paper.

        • Otile

          Fulani kind of justice indeed – me justice

        • hatelooters

          Yeah right… After it has been doctored right? White paper ko, black paper nii..

          • T-Rex

            Just like the arms probe report,with Buratai and Dambazzau names missing,lol. Tales by moon light.

  • Mamman Bako

    The convoy was Burutai’s COAS in Zaria, how then did it require the GOC in Kaduna to order the shooting? Burutai was in clear ‘danger’ and a man far away was responsible to secure him, what then would have happened if the GOC was out of town? This report does not make sense. The TRUTH must be told otherwise Lt. Gen. T. Y. Burutai is not fit to be the Chief of Army Staff of Nigeria.

    • peaceometer

      GOC is in charge of kaduna entire army as general officer commanding.

  • Abu Jawad

    If commissions of inquiries will be bold enough like this one, then human dignity and respect to rule of law by law enforcement agents to human life will be guaranteed in Nigeria. But I also hope compensation will be paid to hundreds of lives lost and properties destroyed paid to those who lost them. And curiously, also, was the seeming scapegoating of the GOC Kaduna which seems to be sacrificed to protect Buratai who was actually the real culprit.We hope to see the whole report and digest it contents so that we could know the real truth.

    • emmanuel

      A member of Buhar’s cabal can not be guilty please!

  • B. Messi

    I am beginning to give up on the yorubas.

    • emmanuel

      Have you forgotten i call them the most timid people in Nigeria? The Yorubas are not just it. Any problem jju cannot solve for them is left to consume them, as juju is applied for basic daily human activities.
      It is like a person who get excitement only from hard drugs, they become depressed when they miss such drugs over time

      • Adewale

        Must you put ethnic colorations into all issues? Here is a military man giving orders, so what brings ethnicity into this? You guys should be able to decipher what is right at all times. If you want to develop as a race, you must move away from sentimental reasoning like this, otherwise development will continue to elude you and your regions. You think Yorubas are like you that will cry marginalization at every thing that happens. If Oyebade has done wrong, let him be punished accordingly. Next time, this will serve as a deterrent to others coming behind him. You think your abuse of Yoruba will make us behave as animals like you, you miss it seriously. I am sure if he’s to come from your region, protests will have started by now, very backward thinking people!

        • Otile

          Yeah, you can hold us responsible, you can hold your people responsible, but you do not have the courage to hold your Fulani masters responsible. If Buratai sleeps with your wife you will still say – sai baba thank you for promoting General Buratai. Wouldn’t you?

  • emmanuel

    Burutais boys shot through the crowd on the orders of their boss who was not culpable, but a Yorobber man who deployed troups to arrest El-Zhazaky had to shoot their way through and the Yorobber man is culpable.
    Goodluck to Bola Ahmen Tinubu who has paid Akure women to protest Melaye. Na Ekiti and Osun State Tinubu dey get power now.
    Last week, his Boy’s wife had to fly Arik between Abuja and Lagos on the account of presidential exclusion, yet the Yorobbers are looking for the witch wen dey kill their pickin.
    I think say Yorobber sabi cry well, well. Make dem cry go ICC naa.

  • Otile

    The Fulanis must understand that Yorubas are still our brothers and friends, and must not abuse Yoruba loyalty to them thinking that we will keep mute in the face of injustice. Last time the Fulanis pulled this kind of shit on General Ransome Kuti, blaming him for whatever went wrong in the fight against Boko Haram Islamists. This time around Buhari and Buratai must take responsibility for their actions, we will not let them sacrifice General Adeniyi Oyebade to save their stinking bots. Enough of this nonsense, they really believe that our Yoruba brothers are their slaves and that their word is Yoruba command. Oluwa ma je.

    • Burning Spear

      Did u hear or see the Yorubas who are now under the spell of Tinubu and his Itsekiri wife–cry over the cold blooded murder of the Early Morning Evangelist-in Kubwa Abuja——? The Yorubas are more interested in Dino Melaye————–than even the June 12 abrakabadra——-of IBB———-

  • vagabonds in power

    The Yoruba are not known to keep quiet in the face of injustice or aberration. I don’t know what has happened in the South-West since they came under the rule of the Fulanis from Chad and Sokoto. If anybody knows, please let him enlighten me.

    • Gary

      Okay let me help you. They are mightily embarrassed at being led into the rabbit hole by Bola Tinubu. They don’t know how to extricate themselves from the hole and pride won’t let them ask those they betrayed for mere cabinet positions in this awful alliance for forgiveness.

      • Samadani

        Who are those they betrayed? The Igbos abi? If you have once seen a camel you would have noticed that it’s tail is very far from the ground. Until you become detribalize like Rochas Okorocha you will never smell presidency in Naija.

    • Tafidan Dogon Daji

      The Yorubas believe that,for any report and/or news that may come their way,it’s not worthy until substantiated.That’s exactly what’s holding their silence.

    • Mufu Ola

      But the same Fulanis have holding& squeezing your “long john” since independence.The Yorubas through Awo tried to save u but you called him tribal leader until d Fulanis finally dazed you with devastating upper cut that u never recovered from.

  • soldier boy

    Arms Probe – Fresh controversy appears to be dogging the third tranche of interim report of the Federal Government’s probe into Arms purchase between 2007 and 2015 as a group, comprising retired military personnel and civil society, has alleged a cover-up in the report made public last week.The group, Probity Watch In Defence Institutions (PWIDI) said on Saturday that the government was not straight enough in its claims by leaving out reports of the period 2007 to 2010.

    According to PWIDI, there are at least 26 petitions already in the possession of the Army, seeking a probe into its activities between 2007 and 2010, wondering how the record of the same period would get missing in government coffers.

    The group expressed worry that the authorities might be working towards a cover-up of the activities of the Army between 2007 and 2010.

    A statement signed on behalf of the group by Danladi Abbas indicated that some aspects of the main report on the Arms Probe were missing.

    The Federal Government had last week in a statement by the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, indicated the release of the third tranche of the Arms Probe report.

    The statement had indicated that “among those to be investigated are 18 serving and retired military personnel, 12 serving and retired public officials and 24 Chief Executive Officers of Companies involved in the procurement. All were either accounting officers or played key roles in the Nigerian Army procurement activities during the period under review.”

    The statement listed those set to face further investigation as including two former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. O.A. Ihejirika (Rtd) and Lt.-Gen. K.T.J. Minimah (Rtd).

  • Tafidan Dogon Daji

    The report be seems to be balanced,unbiased.Well done!

    • hatelooters

      I know jare..with the Yoruba General as the fall guy right?

      • thusspokez

        Your tribalism sickens me, but why are you Yorubas exceedingly tribalistic. It would seem that you are not evolving as human beings like every other ethnicity in Nigeria.

  • thusspokez

    It said troops only used force after it became clear that Mr. Buratai’s life was in danger.

    So 347 Nigerians had to be killed in order to save the life of one Nigeria? Has the Nigerian army turned into Arab armies — who excel in killing unarmed civilians but useless when it comes to fighting serious armed foes. This cowardly general should not be in the Nigerian army. And if found guilty, he should be executed.

  • thusspokez

    After his initial silence, Mr. Buhari later suggested during a televised interview on December 30 that the victims invited the wrath of the military upon themselves by “hitting the chest of generals”.

    Buhari should be careful what he wishes for: One important reason the recent military coup failed in Turkey was because the Turkish soldiers restrained themselves from shooting unarmed civilians egged on by President Erdogan to go out in the streets and stop them — which many did.

    Buhari should know that in similar situation and call on his supporters to do as President Erdogan did, that these blood-thirsty animals in military uniform whom he now defends would not think twice before massacring his supporters. This is why these wild animals should be flushed out of the Nigerian military.

  • Hyman Atata

    Yoruba change how market??

    • Mufu Ola

      Take your tribalism elsewhere.If truly the General is culpable he must face the music.

  • Saminu Azare

    Buhari must prosecute the perpetrators of Zaria Massacre or ICC will join all of them to prosecute sooner or later