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ICJ probes Army, Shiites clashes in Nigeria


Nigerian soldiers stand guard as they surround the dead bodies of members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) following violent clashes during a demonstration of supporters of the movement, to protest against the imprisonment of a Shiite cleric, in Abuja, on October 29, 2018. The army and police confronted members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), the group’s spokesman Ibrahim Musa told AFP, amid reports of casualties. Rights groups have accused Nigeria’s military of killing more than 300 IMN supporters and burying them in mass graves during the 2015 confrontation, a charge the military strongly denies. Sodiq ADELAKUN / AFP

• Buratai upbeat on anti-insurgency war
• Air Force launches fresh operation

Following the receipt of the petition by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) alleging massacre of its members by the Federal Government, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has begun probe of the claims.

In the course of the investigations which began before another bloody clash two weeks ago in Abuja between members of the sect and security forces during which 53 persons were allegedly felled by bullets, a team of investigators from The Hague, Netherlands headquarters of the global judicial body had visited the country, to among other things, speak with the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami.

The ICJ team, according to members of the IMN, who visited the Abuja Bureau of The Guardian yesterday, also gathered intelligence about the sect’s activities and the welfare of its incarcerated leader, Sheik Ibrahim El Zakzaky, who is still in custody despite court orders for his release.

Head of the movement’s Resource Forum, Muhammad Ibrahim Gamawa, who led the delegation, explained that the group had to drag the ICJ into the matter because of what it called gross abuse of human rights allegedly displayed by Nigerian security forces in which, according to him, hundreds of Shiites have been murdered in the last three years.

He equally accused the Muhammadu Buhari administration of fighting the Shiites through a proxy war, adding that the president was allegedly being supported by the Saudi authorities to further fuel the sectarian differences.

The IMN leaders maintained that injustice and abuse of human rights by government were behind the deadly clashes.

The delegation vowed never to take up arms against the state, adding: “Even if Buhari government decides to gun down 99 per cent of our members, IMN will never contemplate taking arms against anybody, as it is forbidden in our religion to take human life which we consider sacred. Our allegiance is to God and Nigeria.”

On the possibility of a faction breaking away to take up arms, Gamawa stated: ”We are all under our Sheik and if you break away, you are no longer a member of our group.”

He commended the medium for its professional reportage.

Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, yesterday said the military was very much on course to rid the nation of terrorism.

He spoke at the closing of the sixth Exercise Vulcan Glow, organised by the Nigerian Army Corps of Artillery (NACA) in Kachia, Kaduna State.

Represented by the Commander, Nigerian Army Infantry Corp, Major General Hakeem Okiti, the COAS said the exercise had further reaffirmed the military’s resolve to its constitutional duties.

Also yesterday, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), through the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation Lafiya Dole, commenced Operation Green Sweep against Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) in the North East.

In a statement, it noted that the expedition is targeted at selected locations within the fringes of Lake Chad and Alagarno Forest near Sambisa in Borno State where the remnants of the terrorists are.

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