The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai has said that the Nigerian Army acted in accordance with military rules of engagements during the clash between the Shi’ite sect on December 12, 2015 in Zaria, Kaduna state.
Speaking on Tuesday when he responded to summons by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Abuja, Buratai said the duty of the military was to ensure peace in the country and ensure that the laws of the country were properly maintained, adding that “no group will be allowed to become lawless”.
The NHRC is investigating the clash between the military and members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) popularly known as Shi’ite sect in Zaria, where over 100 people were allegedly killed and the sect’s leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky, his wife and many others arrested.
The sect’s spiritual headquarters was also leveled to the ground by the Kaduna State Government in the aftermath of the clash.
While the army insisted that unruly youths of the Shi’ite sect blocked the road and attempted to assassinate the Lt.-Gen. Buratai, who was on his way to the emir’s palace, the movement denies the allegation, claiming the attack was pre-meditated.
In his presentation on Tuesday, the army chief confirmed that he was involved in the clash and the acts of the soldiers were only “based on the rules of engagements” to ensure the peace and safety of the citizens.
He also warned against anybody ridiculing the Nigerian Army.
Although the Army was trained to kill the enemy, Buratai said the Army was an organised body and wouldn’t go ahead to kill anybody or group without an appropriate reason or intention to sustain peace.
Buratai said the Army was already facing the challenge of trying to quell the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-Eastern part of the country and therefore doesn’t expect any other group or persons to distract it or create more crisis.
He also said the Army has submitted its presentation to the investigation panel and hopes that the commission looks at it and administer justice at the end of the investigation process.
On his part, Executive Secretary of the commission, Prof Bem Angwe warned that the world was going to be too small for anyone who refuses to obey the summon of the commission because “we will engage the supports of the international communities to fish you out”.
Angwe said the panel was inaugurated to investigate the clash that took place between the Nigerian Army and the Shi’ite group, stressing that all the parties involved will be given a fair hearing.