Saturday, May 15, 2021

Zaria massacre: Still in search of justice, 3 years after, by Najeeb Maigatari


tiamin rice

The gruesome injustice meted on the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his followers between December, 12 to 14, 2015 will forever be remembered and annually commemorated in history. The events that occurred in those black hours were horribly shocking and have broken the heart of anyone with the blood of humanity running through his veins.

More than thousand innocent civilians were massacred in cold blood under the pretext of alleged road blockade to the convoy of Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Buratai Tukur Yusuf. It is exactly three years now since the brutal massacre but the Nigerian military, however, have failed to come up with anything reasonable, let alone, acceptable that justifies their action.

In a statement made available to the press few days after the massacre, the Nigerian military claimed that only seven members of the movement were killed during the attack. This claim was later refuted by the Secretary to Kaduna State government Alhaji Lawal Balarabe in a testimony before the State’s established Judicial Commission of Inquiry (set up to investigate the incident) where he attested that at least 347 members of the movement were killed by the military and afterwards given a mass burial.

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Speaking of the sole victims of the massacre, the members of the movement; whom parents, children, brothers and sisters were attacked, arrested, disabled and killed; have documented not less than thousands of their brothers and sisters who were either killed or missing since the attack.

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Several families have been wiped out of existence and the breadwinners of several others killed, thus turning hundreds of wives into widows and children orphans. The leader of the Islamic Movement himself, witnessed before his very eyes the merciless cold-blooded murder of his 3 biological children Hammad, Haidar and Humaid in just less than 18 months when 3 others Ahmad, Hameed and Mahmoud were captured alive and tortured to death by the Nigerian military while taking part in an annual pro Palestinians procession in Zaria in July 2015.

It is exactly three years now that families of the victims of Zaria massacre have been living in unimaginable pain and inconceivable anguish. Their souls were tormented by the loss of their dear ones, therefore, turning their dishes tasteless, nights sleepless and days fruitless. They were painfully and secretly subjected to various forms of psychological traumas that eat them up on daily basis.

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Notwithstanding, the Nigerian government is still holding Sheikh Zakzaky, his wife and other hundredsof members of the movement in illegally. Despite the continued deteriorating health condition of the Sheikh and his wife owing to the improper medical attention they have been receiving in the DSS custody, they were never allowed to attend to their health elsewhere.

The Sheikh had lost his left eye from a military gunshot which is worsened by the improper medical attention. He also suffered from an acute stroke which manifested with transient partial paralysis while at the illegal detention and his wife Zeenah, a mother of 9 who was diagnosed with close to terminal stage osteoarthritis condition there is nothing to write home about as it only deteriorates from bad to worse.

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On the 2nd of December 2016 a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ruled that the Sheikh and his wife should be released and compensated. To this date, the government is still holding them illegally in flagrant contempt of this valid court order. The members of the movement have since then embarked on peaceful processions, sit in and vigils to demand the release of the Sheikh which most of the times end up with the Nigerian security operatives attacking, arresting and killing the protesters.

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The Massacre in Zaria and its aftermath, the persecution of the members of the movement, have gained global outcry and condemnation especially from human rights organizations within and outside the country. The persecution according to the organizations is a violation of the rights to liberty, freedom of speech, peaceful gathering, expression of opinion and religion. People of conscience have come to the conclusion that the alleged road blockade was all a hoax primarily staged to serve the military’s interest which is synonymous to giving a dog a bad name to pave way to hang it and therefore have been mounting pressure on the government to end this impunity and release the honorable Sheikh, his wife and all detainees of the movement for the greater good of the country.

The question that is often asked by people of conscience around the globe is, would justice be served? If yes, when will justice be served to the victims of Zaria Massacre and its perpetrators be brought to book?

Najeeb Umar Maigatari wrote from Nanchang China and can be reached at [email protected]

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