Zaria Killings: El-Rufai Bans Churches, Mosques From Blocking Roads, To Set Up Panel Of Inquiry
In the wake of the unfortunate killing of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and destruction of the Shi’ite sect leader – Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky’s house and the movement’s spiritual headquarters in Zaria by the Nigerian Army, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has disclosed plans to set up a judicial commission of inquiry into the deadly clash.
An alleged attempt by members of the Shi’ite sect to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai in Zaria at the weekend, resulted in the shooting of no fewer than 60 people by soldiers attached to the army chief’s convoy.
The army said troops used ‘minimal force’, after members of the sect barricaded a road in Zaria and refused to allow Buratai’s convoy pass through, despite repeated pleas to clear the road.
The killings came at a time the Nigerian Army, which has a poor record of human rights abuses, was beginning to receive support from Western nations in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency.
At the last count, U.S, Britain, Amnesty International and Iran have condemned the clash, with calls for a transparent and credible investigation.
In a broadcast Thursday to the people of Kaduna State, Mr. El-Rufai, who stated that a panel would be set up by the state government to look into the Zaria killing, announced a ban on processions – in all parts of the state – that could result in roads being barricaded.
The governor said the composition and terms of reference of the commission would be announced within two weeks.
Gov. El-Rufai assured the people of the state that the government was committed to securing the state and upholding the rights of every citizen.
“We have witnessed sad events in Zaria”, the governor said. “There have been tragic consequences and needless loss of lives, and we extend our condolences to the families that have been affected”.
“In this sombre moment, the government has directed that steps be taken to address the humanitarian fallouts of the security operations”, he said.
El-Rufai further said, “everyone has a fundamental right to their faiths and beliefs, but no one has any right to practice their faith in ways that diminish, distress or inconvenience others”.
He, therefore, announced that “henceforth, no person or group, under any guise will be allowed to block any road, obstruct public highways, occupy public facilities or inconvenience citizens in Kaduna State”.
“Anybody that needs to march may do so, but they cannot take over public facilities or disrupt social services and commercial activities in Kaduna State, and any march or procession can be undertaken only with the prior knowledge of, and protection of the police to prevent the breakdown of law and order”, he said.
The commission of inquiry is to be set up under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act, Gov. El-Rufai stated, adding it will examine the immediate and remote causes of the Zaria incident, and assemble a factual and authoritative account that the government can study and act upon.
The governor warned that he would not tolerate any escalation of lawlessness, insisting that “the government continues to invest heavily in security as a foundation for the successful execution of our economic and social agenda to develop Kaduna State”.
“We all should jointly say no to actions that divide people, reject conduct that ignores or violates the legal and constitutional rights of others and oppose practices that contest the prerogatives of state institutions to safeguard and protect every citizen”, Mr. El-Rufai said.