By Abdulmumin Giwa
Amnesty International has called on the Nigerian government to investigate the unexplained disappearances of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) following details of over 600 missing persons made available to the rights group.
This was stated by the Amnesty International today as it commemorates this year’s International Day of the Disappeared in Abuja.
“Amnesty International is calling on the Nigerian authorities to investigate all cases of enforced disappearances and bring all those suspected of criminal responsibility to justice,” the group said in a statement.
“According to figures provided by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), at least 600 of their members’ whereabouts is not known.”
Over 1000 members of the IMN might have been killed in December 2015 when the Nigerian Army following a claimed traffic misunderstanding launched a killing spree on members of the Movement for almost 48 hours.
Several properties of the IMN including worship places, cemetery and residence of the leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzkay were demolished and some of its members tortured or burned alive by the Army.
Amnesty has earlier called on the Nigerian Army to come clean on the Zaria massacre when it revealed satellite footages showing evidences of possible mass grave forcing the Kaduna state government to reveal to a Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) investigating the massacre that along with the army, it mass buried 347 IMN members at Mando village in Kaduna.
The government had been condemned of violating local, international as well as religious laws by mass burying victims of the Zaria massacre to hide its heinous crimes against humanity by several other reputable rights groups across the globe.
Prior to that, the IMN had placed advertorials carrying over 800 names and profiles of missing persons in the news dailies as families are still searching for their loved ones.
On its side the Army attempted hiding its role in the Zaria massacre when the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai told the National Human Rights Commission in Abuja that only seven people were killed when he made his way through a claimed road blockage mounted by the IMN members.
Following an independent investigation by the Amnesty International it revealed in its report that the army cordoned off the IMN targets it attacked for days and washed off blood stains and picked up bullet shells in attempt to hide its crimes against humanity.
In its response to the Amnesty report on Zaria massacre and other major human rights violations and disregard to its rule of engagement the Army harshly accused the Amnesty International of not being fair to it.
This followed an organized mob action on the Amnesty office in Abuja by alleged sponsored groups condemning the Amnesty for being hard on the Nigerian Army.
It was subsequently followed by another protest and rally supporting the Amnesty and calling on it to continue with its good work of exposing the excesses of the army on innocent people in the country organized by the Concerned Nigerians group.
The Amnesty also drew attention to innocent people that have disappeared after military actions in the name of fighting Boko Haram saying they are “often seized by the military after being accused of affiliation to the armed group Boko Haram”.
Amnesty said hundreds of other civilians had disappeared in the restive northeast during the jihadist group’s brutal eight-year insurgency. Many more are being held illegally in “secret detention”, it stated.
“The families of the victims of enforced disappearance have already waited too long for answers,” Amnesty’s statement said. “They deserve justice, truth and reparation now.”