The Kaduna Judicial Commission of
Inquiry was instituted by Kaduna Governor Nasir el-Rufai and wholesomely
endorsed by Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari. In spite of chief victims,
Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat being detained and denied attendance, the
Kaduna panel has been the only inquiry Nigerians have had to wait
upon and hope for some form of justice from since the horrendous massacre in
Zaria between December 12th and 14th of last year.
Buhari's Endorsement of Kaduna JCI
In a media chat last December,
Buhari said in answer to questions by the panel on the Zaria clash and massacre
"Well certainly I know something
about it, I aught to, in fact I must know something about it. When it happened,
I was in touch with the governor of Kaduna state. You know it happened in one
State of the 36 states. Interestingly the President of Iran spoke to me about
it, but I told him that as a government we have a system. This
incident happened in one of the cities. The governor has physically
visited the area. We have a system of investigation. The Military that was
involved too has a tradition of investigation. I as head of Federal
government, I have to wait for the official report before I can come out as the
head of the government and make a statement. So I am allowing the army and
Kaduna State government to submit their own reports of enquiry. Meanwhile it
doesn't mean that the police, the SSS that were not directly involved are not
doing their own part of constitutional role of finding out what actually
Asked by the panel, "so that means there won't be a Federal
inquiry that some are calling for because they are saying that some of the
officers are involved, I mean you can't ask the police to investigate the army
and all of that" he answered:
"No, there is no way I can ask the
police to investigate the army. That will be a misnomer...(chuckles)..it aught to
be the other way around. But all I know is whether it is the police, the
military, the civil authorities Where there is an incident where lives and
property are lost, there is a standard way of investigation depending on how
serious it is. If it is very serious maybe a judicial inquiry may be the
most acceptable thing for the society, and then people form all directions are
asked to come and give evidence."
When asked, "how serious do you think this is for the
nation in terms of our security and the potential future that this can portend
for us" the President said:
"No it is unfortunate and extremely
serious. How can any group will create a State within a State. I don'te are a
want to speak about it in detail. I'll leave it till I receive the
inquiries. But there are a number of clips I saw where some excited teenagers
were virtually hitting the chest of Generals, you know, putting road blocks,
banning vehicles and pelting them with missiles."
"You feel very infuriated?," he was
asked by members of the panel.
To which Buhari replied:
"Very much so, but again I realize
my position. I am now a sitting duck."
"Ok, but having said that Mr President, do you think it is
justifiable. Because in the media, we also saw in social media and traditional
media, a number of images of young people that were shot dead and some of them
you just wonder...the number of deaths seems to be quite worrying?,"
the PremiumTimes reporter on the Panel asked the President.
Buhari responded, "you can't justify casualties on that
scale. But to be fair to both sides you have to wait for the inquiries and then
you tell the families. A lot of them you tell them what they know. For example
I understand that people form the area in Zaria gave a press briefing in Kaduna
isn't it? About two or three days ago. They called the press and they told them
what agony they have been going through for the last 10..15 years."
"So to wrap this up Mr President,
who would you be expecting this report from in terms of inquiries. One, a lot
of people expect that the Federal government will have an independent inquiry.
The soldiers who were said to have been attacked cannot do an inquiry that
would be deemed as fair and balanced. The police who are part of the security
agencies of Nigeria would not be expected to carry out an inquiry that civil
society will accept as fair and balanced. Civil society as well might be deemed
as maybe a bit partial and emotive about it. So where is the Federal government's
inquiry coming from?"
"I expect a sort of Judicial Inquiry by the Kaduna State
Because it happened in Kaduna and one of the cities and it has been there for
the last 20 years...from what I have been reading from your papers...for the
last 20 years. They will occupy a Federal highway, sometimes from Kano to
Kaduna. This is what I have heard. Fortunately for me I have never been in that
mess. But a number of people that talked to me...for example from Jaji to
Kaduna it will take about two and a half hours also. There were all sorts of
allegations which I will rather wait for the report."
Watch video of media chat: https://youtu.be/k6ncKD4JdKk
---Media chat END---
While the President's apparent
pre-judgement in his responses and the legal implications of them are not the
subject in this article, the President concluded by endorsing the Kaduna
Judicial panel as his government's tool to deliver justice to those found culpable.
The panel has met and since submitted
its report to the Nigerian government, but while members of one-side of
the clash remained detained and thereby punished, many without trial for the
over 200 days since the incident, not a single military officer and other state
official has been as much as suspended for their roles in the deadly
In the developed world, officers would
be suspended or put on bench duty in the interests of peace, justice and
national security at the beginning of an inquiry pending the results of the
case or trial.
Today Nigeria that has been waiting
for the long overdue suspension of officers, right now waits for justice to be
meted on the culpable members of the Nigerian army and other security agencies
and cabinet officers as found guilty. Nigeria's Chief of Army Staff,
Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai is on record to have endorsed and
defended the actions of the army in the Zaria massacre thus implicating
himself. The army chief reported that only seven people were killed in the
incident. The Buhari-endorsed Kaduna inquiry has however reported that over 350
Nigerians were killed in the incident and secretly buried by order of the army
in a mass grave at Mando cemetery, again implicating the army chief in tampering
with justice and attempting to cover-up a State-perpetrator criminal act.
Justice delayed is justice denied. While
this justice has already been denied by virtue of its being drastically
delayed, Nigerians want to know when justice will at last
be delivered on the perpetrators and when the victims
will receive apology and "blood money."
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