The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has taken a case involving Nigeria Army and Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The case was open on Monday, March 21, 2016 for a preliminary enquiry into the December 2015 incident that in Zaria. A violent clash that claimed many lives as the Shiite group claims that nearly 1000 civilians were killed by armed forces.
The Nigeria Army has admitted to killing only seven civilians in the incident but the Islamic Human Rights Commission has called on the international tribunal which has a mandate to prosecute people for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, to open a preliminary enquiry into the Zaria incident which they claimed soldiers attacked the Islamic Movement of Nigeria’s (IMN) supporters and destroyed its symbols and property.
The clash which was said to have taken over 48 hours in the northern Nigerian city of Zaria left a trail of bloodshed and destruction including the alleged shooting of the movement’s leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat.
IHRC chairman Massoud Shadjareh in the submission to the ICC said: “The scale and brutality of this massacre and unwillingness of the Nigerian government to implement due process makes it essential for the international court to investigate. The failure of the international community to act against atrocities on this scale stands to have grave consequences.“
“The crimes committed between the 12th and 14th December 2015 in Zaria, Kaduna State, by the Nigerian Army amount to crimes against humanity. The crimes committed by the Nigerian Army meet all the necessary legal requirements to warrant a preliminary investigation by the ICC prosecutor” he said.
IHRC said 217 people were confirmed killed in the attacks; another 219 are in detention while 482 are still missing. The group said the number of injured is believed to run into many hundreds.
“IHRC’s filing to the ICC is largely based on eye-witness evidence of the army’s assault. The majority of deaths were caused by gunshots fired by soldiers. Cases of people being burnt alive have also emerged. Injuries caused by machetes or other knife wounds have also been found on the corpses, and could be the work of the criminal groups that perpetrated acts of looting and mutilation alongside the military. Signs of torture and electrocution have been evidenced on the body of the IMN leader Sheikh Zakzaky and other detainees, two of whom died as a result thereof.”
The group claimed there was sexual violence including cases of rape against women affiliates of the IMN. “A 14-year old female witness told IHRC that the military shot her in her private parts when she resisted attempts by soldiers to rape her. Some women reportedly had their breasts cut off and others were deliberately shot in the pelvic region, damaging their uterus.”
IHRC said further that evidence suggests that the army’s assault was a systematic and pre-planned attempt to snuff out the IMN whose growing popularity have made it a thorn in the side of Nigerian governments.
“A similar army assault in July 2014 during a religious procession led to the deaths of 34 IMN members including three sons of Sheikh Zakzaky who were apparently singled out for execution. Eyewitnesses have reported that during the violence in December 2015, soldiers were seen celebrating and chanting slogans against the IMN, such as ‘we have finished with the Shia and Zakzaky’ and ‘no more Shias in Nigeria’”.
Although the IMN has support among Nigeria’s Sunnis and Shias it is often portrayed by its detractors as a Shia organization.”
“During the violence soldiers used automatic weapons, explosives and armored vehicles against unarmed civilians. This, along with the destruction of places of worship, graves and other buildings associated with the IMN, appears to support the contention that the attack was aimed at fatally damaging or eliminating the IMN” the group writes the court.
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