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Bodies of Shias killed by Nigeria army must be exhumed: Activists

Press TV – April 29, 2016

Rights activists have called for the bodies of hundreds of Shia Muslims massacred by the Nigerian army last December to be exhumed for further investigation into the exact number of victims.

Residents in the northern city of Kaduna, where the carnage took place, have rejected the official death toll and said a local inquiry into the incident suggests the government figures may be a gross underestimation.

On December 12, Nigerian soldiers attacked Shia Muslims attending a ceremony at a religious center in Zaria, accusing them of blocking the convoy of the army’s chief of staff and attempting to assassinate him.

A day later, Nigerian forces raided the home of Sheikh Ibhrahim al- Zakzaky, who leads the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), and arrested him after killing those attempting to protect him. Both incidents led to the deaths of hundreds of members of the religious community.

Rights groups say there is evidence Nigerian military had secretly buried hundreds of bodies in mass graves.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Mustapha and Nura Adam, two eye-witnesses, have also painted a horrific picture of the massacre.

Referring to a mass grave outside Kaduna, Mustapha said the local “government claimed they buried 347 people here but we know the actual number is far more than that.”

Mustapha also recalled how earth-moving equipment was brought into the cemetery near the Nigerian Defense Academy in the troubled region on December 14 to dig a pit for the burial.

He also noted that at about 11:00 p.m. (2200 GMT) armed forces cordoned off the narrow path leading to the burial ground shortly before trucks filled with bodies arrived.

“I counted six huge trucks and several military vans laden with dead bodies driving into the cemetery for the mass burial which residents were not allowed to witness,” said Adam.

“It took them five hours to finish the burial, which was an indication that the bodies were more than 347 because it doesn’t take that long to thrown in such a number of bodies into a pit,” he added.

Adam also said the bodies should be exhumed to confirm the exact number of the dead, adding that the world would be “shocked by the true number of those buried.”

However, Abdulhakeem Mustapha, counsel to the Kaduna state commission of inquiry probing the incident, has said local public officials do not have any authority to force the central government in Abuja to take action over the massacre.

“This is an investigative committee. It doesn’t have powers to issue orders,” said Mustapha, adding, “It is going to make its recommendations to the government on what it believes are the best ways to resolve the problem based on its findings.”

Last week, Amnesty International said in a report titled “Unearthing the truth: unlawful killings and mass cover-up in Zaria,” on April 22 that the Nigerian army killed over 350 supporters of Zakzaky and tried to meticulously destroy evidence of the crime by burying the victims in mass graves.

The report also blames Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for failing to probe army crimes against civilians.

Despite Buhari’s pledge to investigate the war crimes, “to date no concrete steps have been taken to end endemic impunity for such crimes,” it pointed out.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also slammed the carnage and said Nigerian forces committed several instances of bloodshed against the country’s Shia community in mid-December 2015.

The Nigerian army had also targeted Shias in August 2014 as people were holding a demonstration to condemn Israeli attacks on the Palestinians.

April 29, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Over 700 Shias missing after Nigeria army raids: Shia group

Press TV – January 14, 2016

A Nigerian Shia group says more than 700 of its members are still unaccounted for a month after the deadly attacks by Nigerian forces against Shia Muslims in the northern city of Zaria.

In a statement released on Thursday, Ibrahim Musa, the spokesman for the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), whose leader Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky is in police custody, said about 730 people have gone missing since December 12, 2015.

“These missing people were either killed by the army or are in detention” but their “whereabouts are still unknown and undisclosed,” Musa said.

He further noted that some 220 IMN members were in a prison, located in the city of Kaduna, the capital of the state with the same name, while others were in military custody elsewhere across the African state.

On December 12 last year, Nigerian soldiers attacked Shia Muslims attending a ceremony at a religious center in the northern city of Zaria, accusing them of blocking the convoy of the army’s chief of staff and attempting to assassinate him. The Shias have categorically denied the allegations.

The following day, Nigerian forces also raided Zakzaky’s home and arrested him after reportedly killing those attempting to protect him, including one of the IMN’s senior leaders and its spokesman.

Both incidents led to the deaths of hundreds of members of the religious community, including three of Zakzaky’s sons. There has been no official death toll in the violence, but rights activists have put the number at over 1,000.

Musa said no Nigerian family had received a body for burial in the weeks since the Zaria violence.

The Shia cleric is said to have been charged with “criminal conspiracy and inciting public disturbances.”

The IMN has called for Zakzaky’s unconditional release and for Abuja to respond to the “unjustifiable atrocities committed by the army.”

January 14, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Nigeria Shia leader to face prosecution: Nigerian official

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Nigerian Shia leader Ibrahim al-Zakzaky
Press TV – December 20, 2015

Nigerian authorities say Shia leader Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, who has been arrested and whose family and supporters have faced a bloody crackdown, will face prosecution.

On Saturday, Nasir al-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State in north-central Nigeria, where Zakzaky was arrested in his home city of Zaria last week, said the cleric “will be prosecuted for any crimes that he may have committed,” Nigerian newspaper THISDAY reported on Sunday.

“That is the decision for the federal authorities. There are state and federal crimes,” the official added, making it clear that the case would be brought against the cleric by Abuja rather than local officials. “There is a government and a constitution and we are resolved to follow the constitution and due process.”

Nigerian forces raided the house of Zakzaky, the head of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), last Sunday and arrested him after reportedly killing individuals attempting to protect him, including one of the movement’s senior leaders and its spokesman.

Nigerian soldiers had opened fire on Shia Muslims attending a ceremony at a religious center in the city the previous day, accusing the Shias of stopping the convoy of Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai and attempting to assassinate him. Zakzaky was planning a speech at the center, and the IMN has strongly rejected the assassination accusation.

The attack on Zakzaky’s residence and the violence during the road incident led to the deaths of hundreds of the members of the religious community, including three of Zakzaky’s sons.

The IMN spokesman, Ibrahim Usman, meanwhile, rejected the accusation by the governor that the movement had “blocked roads for four days” during the religious ceremony, which marked Arba’een, the fortieth day to follow the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the third Shia Imam.

“Clearly, this is a deliberate attempt to twist the facts. During the Arba’een symbolic treks, we block only limited part of the road, and this is to protect persons from traffic accidents, control mass movement and avoid chaos on the roads,” Usman said.

“The governor here was trying to give the impression of a complete occupation of a lane for four days. That was not the case. Blocks were only from junction to junction on the roads. The public was informed about these little inconveniences with apologies on public radio and television stations throughout the trek. Road users during the period would be surprised by the governor’s statement,” he said.

Shia Muslims in Nigeria march during a procession marking Arba’een. (File photo)

Rufai has also announced that a judicial commission of inquiry has been set up to look into the attack on the cleric’s residence.

The IMN has said it does not trust any likely findings by the state investigators, adding that authorities have refused to listen to the Shia community about what happened in Zaria and are only focusing on the army’s account.

December 20, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment