President Muhammadu Buhari has assured international and local human rights groups that he will give an “appropriate response” to a report of the judicial inquiry into the clashes between soldiers and Shi’ites last December in Zaria, Kaduna State.
Mr. Buhari said he was studying the report before announcing appropriate response in due course.
A statement by a presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, said: “The president’s commitment to human rights remains unchanged because it is a cardinal component of the democratic order”.
The Kaduna State Government had set up a judicial commission of inquiry to look into the December clash in which hundreds of Shi’ite Muslims were massacred by Nigerian soldiers.
The report indicted the General Officer Commanding the Nigerian Army’s 1st Division, Kaduna, Maj.-Gen. Adeniyi Oyebade. He was accused of ordering the attack on civilians.
It also apportioned blames to the Shi’ite Muslims’ leader, Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, for not having control of his members while the federal and Kaduna State government were also blamed for not acting in the past on reported acts of lawlessness perpetrated by the Shi’ites.
While the international community condemned the heavy use of force by the soldiers, the army hierarchy and President Buhari refused to condemn it.
After his initial silence, Mr. Buhari suggested during a televised interview on December 30 that the Shi’ites invited the wrath of the military upon themselves by “hitting the chest of generals”.
However, in a twist of events yesterday, Mr. Buhari said his government will issue the needed response.
The statement issued by Malam Shehu said the president “had told the nation during the Presidential Media Chat that he was awaiting the outcome of the report of inquiry into the incident before making appropriate response”.
The statement said the “present administration believes in due process and the rule of law; therefore any response to the report would follow this principle”.
“The Federal Government will continue to act in the larger interest of the public to prevent such violent incidents”, it said.