Army: AI Report on Clash with Shi’ites Hasty, Partial, Subjective

•Debunks satellite videos of mass grave as fake
•Queries timing, authenticity of the report
By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The Nigerian Army has berated Amnesty International (AI) for its recent report on the clash with members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) in December 2015 in Zaria, Kaduna State, as too hasty, partial, judgemental and subjective.

This was stated at the weekend by the Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sani Usman, in response to THISDAY’s inquiries about the latest allegations by the AI about the deadly confrontation with IMN popularly known as Shi’ites Islamic Sect.

He  said that the International Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) was in a hurry to publish what, it noted, was a premeditated report without waiting for the constituted Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Kaduna State government and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to submit its report.

“Please note that if there is any report from Amnesty International as you stated, we believe it is hasty, partial and lacks objectivity. The NGO should understand that Nigeria is a sovereign nation and it should be respected. Already, a judicial commission of inquiry is in place in addition to investigation by the NHRC,” he said.

The AI had on Friday accused the Nigerian military of mass slaughter of hundreds of men, women and children by soldiers in Zaria, saying that the attempted cover-up of the alleged crime demonstrates an utter contempt for human life and accountability,

The human rights watchdog said it has published evidence gathered on the ground revealing how the Nigerian military burned people alive, razed buildings and dumped victims’ bodies in mass graves.

The body claimed that the report titled “Unearthing the truth: Unlawful killings and mass cover-up in Zaria”, gave a shocking eyewitness testimony of large-scale unlawful killings by the Nigerian military and exposes a crude attempt by the authorities to destroy and conceal evidence.

The rights group also stated that more than 350 people are believed to have been unlawfully killed by the military between 12 and 14 December, following a confrontation between members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and soldiers in Zaria, Kaduna, state.

According to the Al’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa, Mr. Netsanet Belay: “The true horror of what happened over those two days in Zaria is only now coming to light. Bodies were left littered in the streets and piled outside the mortuary. Some of the injured were burned alive,”

“Our research, based on witness testimonies and analysis of satellite images, has located one possible mass grave. It is time now for the military to come clean and admit where it secretly buried hundreds of bodies.”

However, these claims was dismissed by the Army Spokesman, who said that the rights group is acting out a script together with the IMN.

He noted that “he NGO’s hasty report is against the principles of the Amnesty International itself as it is pre-emptive and judgemental”.