Zaria Clash: We Handed Over ‘Few’, Not 347 Dead Bodies To Kaduna Govt For Mass Burial – Army

Islamic-Movement-Members-Ibraheem-ZakzakyThe Nigerian Army has refuted the claim that it handed over to the Kaduna State Government 347 dead bodies of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) also known as Shi’ites, for mass burial.
The bodies were those of victims of the December 12-14, 2015 clash between soldiers of the Nigerian Army and Shi’ites in Zaria, Kaduna State.
Speaking at the Judicial Commission of Enquiry into the clash yesterday, the Army said it did not give the figure of the bodies it released to the government, adding that it only handed a few bodies to the government representative.
At the previous hearing, the Kaduna Government said it received at least 347 bodies from the Army for mass burial.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mallam Balarabe Abbas Lawal, who made this known at that hearing, said the unknown corpses were given mass burial in Kaduna a few days after the incident.
The Director-General of Interfaith, Muhammad Namadi Musa, claimed he led the burial of the unknown bodies, saying it was carried out at midnight in Mando area of Kaduna, and lasted till 5am.
He said: “On December 13, 2015 I received a phone call from the SSG to come to the Government House, after which I was directed to go to Zaria to find out the number of bodies and how they would be buried.
“At the Army depot, the SSG directed me to meet one Major Ogundare regarding the bodies there. After introducing myself, he refused to let me know the number; but later on, the SSG called me and told me the number”.
The Army, however, disputed this position, saying only “few bodies” were handed over to the representative of the government at the time, not 347 as claimed.
At the resumed sitting of the commission yesterday, a medical officer from the Army Depot, Zaria, Major Uche Agulana, under cross examination by counsel to the commission, said he did not keep the record of the deaths, because, according to him, he was busy at that time “trying to save the lives of those brought to the hospital”.
The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 1 Mechanised Division, Kaduna, Maj-Gen. Adeniyi Oyebade, said the Shi’ites attacked soldiers on that day.
He added that it was that situation that prompted his men to apply force to restore law and order.
In response to a question by the chairman of the commission – Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba – why the Army did not inform the police before invading the home of the detained leader of the IMN, Sheik Ibraheem El- Zakzaky, since the matter was a civil one, the GOC said the police lacked the manpower to curtail the Shi’ite members.