Army, Kaduna govt differ over mass burial after Shi’ites crisis
As the probe panel continued its sitting yesterday, the Nigerian Army and Kaduna State Government have expressed divergent views on the number of corpses released for mass burial after the December 15, 2015 bloody clash between members of the Shiites and soldiers in Zaria.
While the government said at previous hearing of the commission that at least 347 corpses were handed over to them by the Army for mass burial, the Army claimed yesterday, that it handed over just “few” corpses to the government.
However, the Army refused to release the figure(s) it handed over to the government while testifying before the Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba’s Commission on the Army/Shiites clash.
Meanwhile, the Secretary to the Kaduna State Government, Mallam Balarabe Abbas Lawal had at the previous sitting of the commission, said not less than 347 unknown corpses from the last December clash were given mass burial in Kaduna few days after the bloody clash.
Also, the Director General of Interfaith, Muhammad Namadi Musa, concurred with the position of the state government by claiming that he led the burial exercise of the unknown corpses and that it was carried out at 12 mid night and lasted till 5:00a.m in the morning.
Musa said, “On 13th December, I received a phone call from the SSG to come to government house after which I was directed to go to Zaria to find out the number of corpses and how they would be buried.”
“At the Nigerian Army depot, the SSG directed me to meet with one Major Ogundare regarding the corpses there. After introducing myself, he refused to let me know the number; but later on, the SSG called me and told me the number.”
However, the Nigerian Army maintained at yesterday sitting of the Commission of Inquiry that few corpses and not the 347 corpses were handed over to the government for burial.
At the sitting of the Commission, a medical officer from the Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria, Major Uche Agulana told the commission that contrary to the state government’s claim that 347 corpses were buried in mass grave, he handed over few corpses to the representative of the state government.
Agulana, when cross examined by counsel to the commission to give the actual figure of the dead, said he did not keep the record of the deaths as according to him, he was busy at that time “trying to save lives that were brought into the hospital.”
Also, the General Officer Commanding the One Mechanized Division, Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Major-General Adeniyi Oyebade maintained that members of the Shiites attacked soldiers with dangerous weapons on that fateful day.
According to him, it was that situation that prompted his men to apply “relative force” in order to restore law and order in the ancient city of Zaria.
When asked by Chairman of the commission why the army did not notify the Police during the incident on December 12, 2015, before invading the residence of the detained leader of the Shiites, Sheik Ibrahim El Zakzaky, since the matter is a civil one, the GOC said that the police had no enough manpower to curtail the IMN members.
Oyebade also maintained that Zaria fell under the jurisdiction of the Army Division, adding that it was his responsibility to maintain law and order in Zaria.
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