Zaria Shiites tragedy: Army probe clears killer soldiers

Posted by News Express | 2 August 2014 | 3,416 times

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The report of a preliminary investigation by the Nigerian Army has cleared soldiers who allegedly shot 35 members of the Shiite Islamic group in Zaria, Kaduna State, last week Friday (July 25) of extra-judicial killing.

The victims included three sons of Nigerian Shiite Leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who has continued to insist that his sons and the others were killed in an unprovoked attack while engaging in their usual Friday after-prayer procession.

Formally reacting to the incident for the first time late yesterday, Defence Headquarters said in a statement uploaded late yesterday on the official website of its Information Department:

“The need to calm the situation in Zaria city after the recent encounter between soldiers on routine patrol and members of Shiite Islamic sect in Zaria last Friday informed the initial taciturn posture of the Defence Headquarters on the issue. While not underplaying the significance of such incident, it was also necessary to ensure that sufficient information was obtained beginning from the unit level and other reliable sources at the location.

“A preliminary investigation was therefore initiated to unravel the circumstances surrounding the unfortunate incident. An enquiry is subsequently ongoing at the Divisional level.

“Although the report of the preliminary investigation at the unit level has vehemently contradicted some of the issues raised by the leader of the group, in his statement, especially on the allegation of extra judicial killings, the higher Headquarters is conducting additional investigation on the incident to ascertain the claims in the preliminary reports from the unit level.  “In spite of the preliminary findings, the importance placed on the respect for Human Rights in all military operations, activities and interactions, has prompted the additional steps presently being taken to ascertain the true situation.

“Accordingly, the higher level of military enquiry is with a view to unmasking the remote and immediate causes of the incident and to identify anyone found culpable.  Meanwhile, those apprehended during the incident are being interrogated.

“The Defence Headquarters deeply commiserates with the families of those that lost their lives in that unfortunate incident, especially the leader of the group who was reported to have lost his sons. Indeed, his present disposition is understandable as it is pathetic.  No effort will be spared to ensure necessary justice on this matter.”

•Photo shows Defence Spokesman, Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade.

Source: News Express

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