By Abdulmumin Giwa
Following a Press Conference by the Free Zakzaky Campaign Committee in Kaduna where a sixteen-page statement was read to newsmen by the chairman Malam Abdurrahman A Yola, in which the contradictions and discrepancies contained in the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry JCI were enumerated, the Presidency has decided to absolve itself from having anything to do with the Zaria massacre.
The Guardian newspaper of 12th August 2016 reported that “But in a swift reaction, the Presidency yesterday distanced President Buhari from the travails of El-Zak Zaky, saying it was purely a matter within the jurisdiction of the Kaduna State government.”
It went further to quote the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu saying “the matter has nothing to do with the President, it is a state matter and the President has no hand in the matter.“Does it really make any sense to believe that the President is blocking the release of their leader when the President has, as a matter of policy, refused to get involved in it? Let them take their case to Kaduna State government.”
I really think the presidential spokesman should ask himself whether what he said actually really makes any commonsense.
The statement by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria IMN on which the newsmen sorted clearance from the presidency is “What is baffling is how JCI can clearly identify the use of excessive force by the military, stated in their report under Constitutional Responsibilities of the Armed Forces of Nigeria that Section 217 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) mandates the Armed Forces of Nigeria with among others suppressing, insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly, and yet be silent on this glaring violation. It therefore shied away from making recommendations on what is to be done with those that ultimately gave the orders.”
Journalists present at the conference wanted more clarifications on the issue with some of them asking whether there was something personal between President Muhammadu Buhari and the revered Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky to which they were referred to the President for answer. To them it was clear that Sheikh Zakzaky is being held in detention by President Buhari.
The Chairman of the Free Zakzaky Campaign Committee explained to the newsmen that when President Muhammadu Buhari was forced to speak on the Zaria massacre after a long but deliberate silence from the Presidency since the attack, during his maiden media chat, the President gave his reason for attacking the IMN as ‘running a government within a government’.
The President further repeated the same statement that the IMN was running a government within a government and that was why it was attacked in an interview he had with Al-Arabiyya TV station in Qatar. Does this still not tally with commonsense that the President is fully involved in the Zaria massacre of innocent unarmed civilians?
It was clear that the JCI stayed away from pointing accusing fingers at the presidency when it became glaringly clear to them that the massacre was ordered directly by the Commander-in-Chief of the Army as required by the Nigerian constitution.
With the constitution out of impunity violated by the presidency, the JCI shifted the blame of the massacre on the General Officer Commanding 1 mechanized Division of the army in Kaduna, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade to absolve the C-in-C and others thereby turning him into a sacrificial lamb calling for his prosecution.
The IMN speaks against this injustice and unfairness and calls for the prosecution of everyone involved in the crime as the constitution is expected to be above the presidency and not otherwise.
More so, if as mentioned by the presidential spokesman that the issue was entirely within the jurisdiction of the Kaduna state government, is he implying that the Kaduna state Governor Nasir El-Rufai is also a Commander-in-Chief of the Army that he commandeered the army on a massacre mission for over 48 hours? Does this also tally with common sense?
Over 200 members of IMN abducted by the army were handed over to the Kaduna Police Command and are being charged to court on cropped up charges by the Kaduna state government including the killing of one soldier. If the presidency was not involved why is the leader of the Movement with the DSS and not with the Kaduna state government?
The JCI was clear on the fact that the counsel to Sheikh Zakzaky was denied access to him by the DSS which led to the extension of the time given to it to submit its report even with the intervention of the commission going through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation AGF, why did this happen if the revered Sheikh Zakzaky was being held by the Kaduna state government and not the presidency?
More so, it is the duty of the Nigerian President to protect the lives and property of the citizenry with the government machinery in his possession, the Army went on a killing spree of civilians for over 48 hours but he never ordered any arrest or investigation into it but publicly defended the actions of the army. This is in violation of the oath of office he took and a violation of the Nigerian constitution as well. How could the presidency absolve itself of this?
Finally, all those that visited the revered leader of the IMN in detention including the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs under the Sultan of Sokoto went through the office of the Inspector General of Police, AGF, and the Director of the DSS all of whom are federal office holders and not in any way under the Kaduna state government. How could the government mouthpiece explain this?
I strongly believe that the swift response of the presidency on this very sensitive issue is too cheap and misleading. I think the presidential spokesman needs to do more to defend his boss so as to also avoid acting against commonsense as well.