The Human Rights Watch, HRW, has alleged that no fewer than 300 members of the Shi’ia sect were killed and secretly buried by the members of the Nigerian army.
The body, in a statement signed by its African Director, Daniel Bekele, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to halt the human right abuses being perpetrated by the Nigerian military, stressing that, “The killing of hundreds of Shia Muslim members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, by Nigerian soldiers from December 12 to 14, 2015, appears to have been wholly unjustified.”
The statement read further, “Human Rights Watch interviewed 16 witnesses to the killings and five others, including local authorities, who said that Nigerian army soldiers fired on Shia Muslim members of the group at three locations in Zaria, in northern Nigeria.
“The army said its confrontation with the Shia sect members who had erected a makeshift roadblock near a mosque resulted from an assassination attempt on the army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, whose convoy was passing by.
“In an internal military document seen by Human Rights Watch, the army said protesters appeared to be taking up positions near the back of the convoy.”
“The Nigerian military’s version of events does not stack up,” adding that the reaction from the presidency, that the situation is a military affair is most appalling.
Bekele continued that, “It is almost impossible to see how a roadblock by angry young men could justify the killings of hundreds of people. At best it was a brutal overreaction and at worst it was a planned attack on the minority Shia group,”
“Characterising this terrible carnage against Shiites in Zaria as ‘a military affair’ is shocking. President Buhari should ensure the military’s appalling track record of serious human rights abuses is halted and does not continue under his term in office.”
Describing the silence of the Presidency on the matter as shocking, the HRW said Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai following the incident immediately announced the establishment of a state judicial commission of inquiry to look in to the clash.
“At least 300 Shia sect members, and likely many more, were killed and hundreds more injured, according to witnesses in at least two of the sites and a hospital source,”
“Soldiers quickly buried the bodies in mass graves without family members’ permission, making it difficult to determine an accurate death toll,” the body added.