By Ibrahim Mohammad and Longtong Ibrahim
Kaduna (Nigeria) — The Shi’ites Islamic sect on Monday announced dragging Nigerian Government and its Military to International Criminal Court in Hague for crime committed against its members.
Nigerian soldiers have killed Shi’ites members in December in an attempt to arrest the sect leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife in Zaria, northwest Nigeria.
“Over 1000 IMN members were murdered by the soldiers in just two days. This is a crime against humanity, it’s a crime committeed against us with the intention of eliminating our members.” Shi’ites spokesman, Ibrahim Musa told journalists in Kaduna, northwest Nigeria.
According to him, Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) 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 inquiry into last year’s event in Zaria, in which soldiers attacked the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) supporters, their symbols and property.
“The assault over two days left a trail of bloodshed and destruction, including the shooting of the movement’s leader, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat. Both are currently believed to be in military custody, detained without charge,” he said.
In the filing submitted to the ICC today IHRC writes: “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.”
“Information obtained by IHRC indicates that 217 people were confirmed killed in the attacks, another 219 are in detention, and 482 are still missing. 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,” he said,
On whether they believed their leader is still alive he said ” we are confident our leader Sheikh Zakzaki is still alive. This is because we believe in what the committee set up by Supreme Council of Nigeria told us when they met him. We know they will not lie to us,” he said.
The spokesman also said the movement will also institute other legal cases against Federal government and military over the Zaria killings.
“All we want is justice for our members and our leader. We are still working alongside our lawyers to file other lawsuits against the government and military over their atrocities against our members,” he said.
He also called for the release of their members who are still in jail despite their gunshots injuries.
Meanwhile, the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set to look into the killings said it will commence hearing on Wednesday, after counsel to the Shiite must have gain access to the leader of the movement on Monday.
“We are making a short adjournment to 23rd of March, Wednesday so that they can come and make submissions,” he said.
Non access to El – Zakzaky by the sect lawyers has stood as a barrier to commencement of hearings, five weeks after the commission was inaugurated – the shiite members and their lawyers had demanded to see the sect leader before submitting any memoranda.
Chairman of the Commission, Justice Mohammadu Lawal Garba said the sitting had to be adjourned because there were strong indications that counsel to the Shiites would be granted access to the sect leader on Monday.
He however expressed dissatisfaction over the failure of the shiites to notify the commission of not appearing, or sending a formal excuse for their absence.