Zaria Killings: El-Rufai bans Shi’ites, others from blocking roads; to set up commission of inquiry


The Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, says he will set up a judicial commission of inquiry into last weekend’s deadly clash between the Nigerian Army and members of the Shi’ia Islamic Movement, which left more than 60 people dead.

The army said troops used force after members of the group barricaded a road in Zaria and attempted to kill the chief of army, Tukur Buratai.

The exact number of casualties is still unclear, but majority of the victims are believed to be members of the Shi’ia sect.

Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, the sect’s leader, was arrested by the military, after his wife and son were killed in the violence, the group said.

The killings have sparked international condemnation, with calls for a transparent investigation.

In a broadcast Thursday, Mr. El-Rufai announced a ban on processions — in all parts of the state — that could result in roads being barricaded.

He also said a judicial commission of inquiry would be set up by the state government to look into the incident in Zaria.

The governor said the composition and terms of reference of the commission would be announced within two weeks.

He assured the people of the state that the government was committed to securing the state and upholding the rights of every citizen.

“We have witnessed sad events in Zaria,” the governor said. “There have been tragic consequences and needless loss of lives, and we extend our condolences to the families that have been affected.”

“In this sombre moment, the government has directed that steps be taken to address the humanitarian fallouts of the security operations,” he said.

Mr. El-Rufai said, “everyone has a fundamental right to their faiths and beliefs, but no one has any right to practice their faith in ways that diminish, distress or inconvenience others”.

He therefore announced that “henceforth, no person or group, under any guise will be allowed to block any road, obstruct public highways, occupy public facilities or inconvenience citizens in Kaduna State”.

“Anybody that needs to march may do so, but they cannot take over public facilities or disrupt social services and commercial activities in Kaduna State, and any march or procession can be undertaken only with the prior knowledge of, and protection of the police to prevent the breakdown of law and order,” he said.

The commission of inquiry is to be set up under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act. It will examine the immediate and remote causes of the Zaria incident, and assemble a factual and authoritative account that the government can study and act upon, he said.

The governor added that he would not tolerate any escalation of lawlessness, insisting that “the government continues to invest heavily in security as a foundation for the successful execution of our economic and social agenda to develop Kaduna State”.

“We all should jointly say no to actions that divide people, reject conduct that ignores or violates the legal and constitutional rights of others and oppose practices that contest the prerogatives of state institutions to safeguard and protect every citizen,” Mr. El-Rufai said.

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