The Kaduna State Government on Monday released the White Paper on the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Zaria clashes of December 2015.
The white paper however blamed the clashes and their consequences on the Sheik Ibraheem Zakzaky led Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), saying, “all IMN members and its leadership are jointly and severally liable for all violations of the law in the last 30 years, and are therefore responsible for the clashes and its consequences”.
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry which examined, among other issues, the immediate and remote causes of the clashes between the Nigerian Army and the outlawed IMN, submitted its report in July 2016.
Presenting the white paper before newsmen at the government house, Kaduna, Special Assistant to Governor El-Rufai on Media and Publicity, Samuel Aruwan said, following the receipt of the report, the government made the report public within 10 days, and set up a committee of senior public servants to prepare a draft White Paper.
According to him, “this White Paper sets out the views and decisions of the Government on all the recommendations that have been made to it by the Judicial Commission of Inquiry. All recommendations that are within the purview of the Kaduna State Government can be accepted, noted or rejected. Those pertaining to institutions or tiers of government not under the direct control of the state government are noted and referred to the appropriate institution for consideration and decision.
“Regarding the clashes in the Gyallesu area of Zaria where the Nigerian Army mounted a cordon and search operation, the White Paper observed that many civilians were evacuated from Gyallesu, but that IMN members rejected the opportunity to vacate the area.
“The White Paper also acknowledged that the Nigerian Army abided by its Rules of Engagement and further observed that: the Judicial Commission of Inquiry failed to take into account the years during which the activities of the IMN in Gyallesu had threatened peace and security; for all intent and purpose, the IMN is an insurgent group and ought to be treated as such; the sheer numbers of IMN members congregating in Zaria from across the country that night, with many bearing arms, was such that the Nigerian Army was in no position to accurately determine how armed and organised they were and had to be concerned on what their intention for Zaria was.
“The Kaduna State Government is assured that the Federal Government will not condone unlawful killing of any citizen and that this conduct will be further investigated and any culprits identified will first be subjected to court martial by the federal authorities, followed by civil prosecution by the state government.”
“The Kaduna State Government accepted the following recommendations, among others: The IMN is an unregistered organisation that cannot be sued. Therefore, all IMN members and its leadership are jointly and severally liable for all violations of the law in the last 30 years, and are therefore responsible for the clashes and its consequences.
“Members of the IMN owe absolute loyalty to Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky. He therefore bears responsibility for all the acts of lawlessness committed by the organisation and should therefore be held responsible, fully investigated and prosecuted;
“The evidence before the Commission, from the testimonies and memoranda submitted to it by the various interest groups and stakeholders, clearly shows that IMN has become a law unto itself; disregarding the authority of the Nigerian State as vested in the police and other security agencies which many a times lead to several confrontations such as the one of 12th to 14th December, 2015 between it and the Nigerian Army;
“All incidents of violence and aggression by the members of the IMN against individuals, groups or communities, which have resulted in grievous bodily harm, destruction of properties and deaths, should be fully investigated and culprits brought to book. Where appropriate, compensations should be paid”, the white paper read.