World Bulletin / News Desk
According to the 13-member panel’s report released late Sunday, “The commission is of the view that the use of excessive force by the Nigerian army, which led to the heavy casualties recorded in the cordon-and-search operation is an act of commission for which the NA [Nigerian Army] is directly responsible.
“The commission, therefore, recommends that steps should be taken immediately to identify members of the NA who participated in the killings of 12th-14th December 2015 incident with a view to prosecuting them,” the report added.
The massacre of Shia followers, mostly belonging to the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, followed a confrontation between them and an armed convoy of the Nigerian Army Chief Tukur Buratai in Zaria town.
After the deaths of scores of people, the army said it had only acted within rules of engagement to protect Buratai, who allegedly faced an assassination attempt - a claim which has been strongly rejected by the movement's leader lbraheem El-Zakzaky and his followers.
The panel also urged the Nigerian government to review the army's rules of engagement and make it conform to the country’s constitution, democracy and human rights; it also called for the local police to be better equipped to tackle such internal issues.
About El-Zakzaky’s movement, the report said: “The security agencies should ensure ‘watch listing’ of IMN members and other persons of security interests, whenever they are going out of or coming back into Nigeria with a view to discovering the sources of their funding, foreign contacts and other relevant arid useful information.”
The panel also recommended the Shia leader be held responsible for what it called infractions committed by his followers.
“Considering the nature and organizational structure of the IMN, where the leader has total control over the members, Sheikh lbraheem El-Zakzaky should be personally held responsible for all the acts of commission and omission of the entire membership of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria in its clashes with the Nigerian Army for refusing to call his members to order when required to do so,” it said.
Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria had not appeared before the panel. According to the group’s attorneys, they had not been granted access to the detained leader.
The panel had submitted its report on July 15 but the government only released it to the public late Sunday.