Today 12th December 2019 marks exactly four years since the start of the genocide and crimes against humanity committed by the Buhari Junta. As part of the Genocide Memorial, let us examine more closely a number of these criminal offences witnessed in Zaria in one of the darkest weekends ever seen in the history of Nigeria.
1. Mass extrajudicial killings:
On that fateful weekend, the Nigerian Army started the killing spree at about 12:00 noon on Saturday, 12th December. As they shot without provocation, they also dragged the corpses along into large trucks waiting in the vicinity. Contrary to what they sold as the actual cause of the opening of fire, there was no Chief of Army Staff at that point. There was no roadblock and there was no procession or any program taking place at the time.
Only a handful of mostly students taking lessons with their tutors and early arrivals for the religious event to have held by late evening were in Hussainiyyah at the time. The Chief of Army Staff arrived at the scene of the event about three hours later at 3:20pm. That was when the alibi was acted and filmed with their agents performing. Even as he arrived, photographs that captured his arrival showed very clear roads with no signs of roadblocks. They, however, brought the thugs that acted for them as their cameraman recorded.
After videotaping what they wanted to, the COAS left the scene, but his soldiers maintained a siege of Hussainiyyah for almost 20 hours, until in the early hours of Sunday 13th, when they threw explosives inside the compound and forcefully made their way into the place of worship. In the process, they further killed scores, including the injured in the earlier shooting, who were receiving first aid inside the complex. Again, they parked all the corpses and went away with them.
The same day on that Saturday the 12th, at about 9:30 pm, some other soldiers arrived the Gyellesu neighbourhood of Zaria, where the residence of Sheikh Zakzaky was. Most of the members of the Islamic Movement who had come for the scheduled religious event, but could make it to the Hussainiyyah centre had gone to the residence or some other surrounding houses where other members of the Movement lived. They were from far and wide across the country.
As soon as the soldiers arrived, they opened fire indiscriminately without warning and as a result, casualty figures were mounting in geometric proportions. This went on for hours throughout the night and well into Sunday late afternoon. By that time, casualty figures were well over a thousand people were killed. The whole of Gyellesu residence of the Sheikh and surrounding places were littered by heaps of corpses, as attempts at parking the corpses into military trucks by the soldiers could not match the rate of killing.
On Monday morning, they came back and continued from where they stopped! That was when they killed the three sons of the Sheikh and also fatally shot both the Sheikh and the wife at point-blank range.
That same Saturday night, another contingent of the Military had proceeded to Darul Rahma burial ground belonging to the Islamic Movement, where scores who could not reach either the Gyellesu residence or the Hussainiyyah took refuge. Again, all the people there were killed in cold blood.
Overall, well over a thousand souls were killed by the Military between Saturday and Monday.
2. Secret burials in mass graves:
There were so many corpses than they could park and much more than all the morgues in Zaria could take. Initial corpses were deposited in ABUTH Shika. Others were taken to Nigerian Military school in Zaria. However, there were many more than they could possibly handle. A decision was made on Sunday to secretly give them mass burial.
To further hide the number of those killed, the site of the burial was chosen to be about a hundred kilometres from the scene, in Mando, in the outskirts of Kaduna. The time chosen for the burial, 12 midnight removes any iota of doubts that there was a deliberate attempt at hiding the figures killed. That the burial took nearly five hours to complete gives an idea of the number of people they struggled to cover.
We reliably know that there are at least two other undisclosed sites close to this confessed place. At the right time, these other sites will be made public.
Witnesses reported that young girls were raped and shot, especially in Hussainiyyah and Darul Rahama. There were reports of other types of sexual assault. Many young girls had their veils forcibly removed. The Sisters forum of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria had addressed a press conference over this much earlier. Witnesses abound.
4. Genital mutilation in an attempt at preventing further reproduction of the group:
One of the worst crimes committed against the Islamic Movement was a pattern of deliberate attacks and mutilation of the reproductive areas of especially the women and girls. For instance, women were shot in the pelvic regions of the body. Others had their breasts cut off. The worst of all, the soldiers verbally abused them, saying that even if they survived, they will not live to give birth to more Shiites! Pregnant women had their wombs reaped open and the foetus killed. It was obvious that they wanted outright prevention of further reproduction within the group.
The military quite early in the attacks engaged in the criminal, intentional and deliberate setting of buildings on fire. That was what was done to most buildings particularly the house of Sheikh Zakzaky and surrounding houses.
6. Burning people alive:
This was what befell most people who were so injured to move away from the fire as the military torched the buildings. Sheikh Zakzaky’s elder sister was picked and thrown into the fire while she was still alive. The same fate befell so many others. Besides, the weak and injured were not spared from this cruelty by the rampaging soldiers. Even corpses were also burnt as well.
7. Burying people alive:
Witnesses reported that some survivors of these cruelties were even buried alive. This was particularly true of those shot in Darul Rahama. There was no certification of deaths before the hasty mass burial.
8. Wanton destruction of properties:
This pogrom executed by the Nigerian military involved massive wanton destruction of properties worth millions belonging to the Islamic Movement. The destruction of property did not stop at only the places the killings and arson took place, it extended to other places where there was no incident at all, such as Sheikh Zakzaky’s Mother’s house and grave. In Darul Rahama, many graves were desecrated as well.
9. Forced evictions:
So many members of the Islamic Movement, especially those hitherto resident in Gyellesu were forcibly evicted from their houses at the behest of the government.
10. Wrongful detention:
Hundreds of other members of the Movement, including the injured, women and very young children were arrested and arbitrarily detained wrongly. Some few had died in custody and many others suffered from life-threatening illnesses but were wrongfully detained without access to appropriate medical attention. Others are subjected to trial forcefully, falsely accused of culpable homicide among other framed up charges. The trials stalled as the prosecutors proceeded with the cases at a snail pace. All the cases that have been determined by the courts ended with victory for members of the Islamic Movement.
Some others remain detained without charges for almost four years.
Sheikh Zakzaky and the wife continue to be detained in spite of obtaining a favourable judgement in court stating that his continued detention by the Department of State Security is illegal, unconstitutional and violates his fundamental rights.
11. Enforced disappearances:
The Nigerian army abducted many members of the Islamic Movement, especially girls and young men, and took them to unknown destinations. These are probably being held in several underground DSS detention facilities across the country. The Islamic Movement had brought out a list of over 800 of its members still missing, who might probably be alive somewhere.
By and large, these are by no means an exhaustive list of very serious unspeakable crimes against humanity committed by the Buhari Junta in Zaria in December of 2015.
Amnesty International investigated the genocide extensively and talked about a scandalous mass attempt at a coverup. It is expected that the International Criminal Court at the Hague will expedite action to bring Buhari and his fellow culprits to justice.
We await justice as the World watches. It is actually long overdue for the Nigerian authorities to come out clean about what happened in Zaria between December 12 – 14, 2015.
© #FreeZakaky Campaign Committee, December 2019