John Shiklam in Kaduna
Facts about the casualty figure during last December’s clash between the Nigerian Army and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (also known as the Shiite sect) in Zaria have emerged, with the disclosure that 347 corpses were buried in a mass grave.
Making the disclosure before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Kaduna State Government to investigate the violent clash, the state Director General of Interfaith, Alhaji Namadi Musa, said a total of 347 corpses were given a mass burial in the Mando area on the outskirts of the metropolis.
Testifying monday before the commission headed by Justice Muhammad Lawal Garba, Musa said he personally conducted the mass burial, adding that he counted the bodies as they were being put in the mass grave.
He explained that the corpses comprise 191 from the Army Depot in Zaria and another 156 from the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Shika, Zaria.
According to him, one Major Ogundare from the Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria led three military trucks loaded with corpses from the army depot while he (Musa) had five Mercedes Benz trucks loaded which with corpses and were taken to a mass grave in Mando area at the outskirts of Kaduna metropolis and buried in a mass grave.
He added that it was during the mass burial that he had the opportunity to meticulously count the corpses as they were being dropped in the grave.
He disclosed further that it took five and a half hours – from 12:30a.m on December 14 to about 5:30a.m to bury all the corpses in one mass grave.
Also testifying before the commission, the Head of Surgery of ABUTH, Shika, Prof. Adamu Ahmed, also narrated how the army, along with some police men in a convoy of trucks, invaded the hospital premises, headed for the mortuary and drove all the mortuary workers away on December 13, 2015, prevented access to the mortuary and remained there until the following day when they finally left.
He said the hospital authorities had no idea what the army and the police came to do at the mortuary, adding that the authorities of the hospital did not see what the soldiers came with and what they left with, even though he said there was nothing unusual in the mortuary.
The army had earlier in their testimony said they had no idea about the casualty figure during the incident.