IMN is set to appear before the Presidential Investigative Panel despite early warning signs that panel may not be fair
The Presidential Investigation Panel to investigate cases of Rights abuses by the Military has commenced sitting today Monday 16th October 2017 in Kaduna as scheduled.
After an initial delay, which the Panel later explained was due to some logistics of securing adequate place to sit, the sitting went underway in the premises of the state High Court, Kaduna.
There was the opening remarks by the Chairman of the Panel, Hon Justice Biobele Abraham Georgewill, JCA entitled “Justice Shall Be Done To All” in which he explained why the panel was set up and what their terms of reference are. He further outlined how they intended to go about their assignment. It was clear from his remarks that the scope of the panel is quite limited.
The first to make presentation were some Red Cross officials and that was done in camera, as people were sent out to enable them make their presentations. This was a direct contradiction of what the Chairman appeared to suggest earlier that their sittings would be open.
A timetable of memoranda to be presented shows that the memo presented on behalf of the Islamic Movement by Barr Femi Falana SAN will be taken as the number eight tomorrow Tuesday October 17th.
It is not immediately clear whether the sudden short notice given to the Movement to make its presentation is a deliberate attempt to limit their showing of evidence. It is a known fact that Kaduna State government had confessed to joining in the mass burial of 347 members of the Islamic Movement killed by the Military, in what already the Judicial Commission of Inquiry called a “massacre” in its report and that “the actions of the troops of the Nigerian Army were also found to be contrary to the Rules of Proportionality by International Standards.” The report further stated that, “it did appear that the Nigerian Army did not adhere strictly to the provisions of its Rules of Engagement and the Code of Ethics during the operation.”
Thus, there was no doubt that soldiers carried out horrendous killings in Zaria in December 2015. There is also no dispute that they buried their victims in secret mass grave as a way of hiding and destroying evidence. It is a fact that up till now relatives of the victims have not been formally informed what happened to their relations. These are very grave offences and indeed crimes against humanity for which criminal culpability must be put on the doorsteps of their Commanders at all levels and those who abated these crimes.
Whether or not the Presidential Panel will have the guts to go a step further to indict the officers involved and their political allies remains to be seen.
A major challenge will be whether the panel will accede to the request to allow Sheikh Zakzaky make an oral presentation before the panel or not.
The legal team of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria will be fully available to make a representation.
The Free Zakzaky Campaign team will keep you informed on development in that regard as it unfolds.
©FreeZakzaky Campaign Committee, October 2017