Global human rights group, Amnesty International (AI) on Wednesday called on the federal government to ensure the investigation and prosecution of army officials involved in the killing and secret burial of 347 Shi’ite Muslims in Kaduna late last year.
The bloody clash which left more 300 members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) otherwise known as Shi’ite took place after members of the group allegedly blocked a convoy of the chief of army staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai. The army chief subsequently claimed there was an attempt to assassinate him.
Officials in Kaduna State recently told an inquiry that soldiers took bodies from a morgue to a bush site following the crackdown on the Shi’ites.
The AI in a statement signed by its country director, MK Ibrahim, on Wednesday said, “Revelations of the slaughter and secret burial of 347 members of a Shi’ite religious group in mass graves by the Nigerian army must be urgently investigated and anyone suspected of criminal responsibility for these crimes must be brought to trial.
“The horrific revelation that hundreds of Shi’ites were gunned down and dumped in mass graves is an important first step to bringing all those suspected of criminal responsibility for this atrocity to trial.”
Ibrahim stated that the acknowledgment of the extra-judicial killings by a Kaduna State government official echoed Amnesty International’s own findings.
The country director said the AI started investigating the killings on 16th January 2016 and would soon release a comprehensive report on it.
He stated that it was imperative that the mass grave sites are protected in order for a full independent forensic investigation to be carried out.
“The bodies must be exhumed and Nigerian authorities should immediately reveal the whereabouts of those held in unacknowledged detention and either charge or release them," Ibrahim said.