By Ibidapo Balogun in Abuja
The Islamic Movement has alleged plans by some unnamed people to exhume bodies of murdered Shi’ite members in a bid to lower the figure of the number of those massacred in the event of a future international investigation of those killed and buried.
“Reports reaching the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) have it that some unscrupulous people, who were behind the massacre of hundreds of unarmed citizens and their secret burial in a mass grave, are planning to secretly and unilaterally exhume the corpses in an effort to lower the figure of those buried therein in the event of a subsequent full blown international investigation of their crime,” the President of the Media Forum of the movement, Ibrahim Musa, said in a statement on Friday.
He said in the statement: “Since the disclosure of the existence of a mass grave at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry by officials of Kaduna State government, the Nigerian Army has been quite uncomfortable. Initially, they tried to debunk the existence of a mass grave in their testimonies at the Commission. When it became obvious through confessions of officers of the state government that mass grave exists, and that officers and men of the Nigerian Army were fully involved in the construction of the mass grave as well as the secret burial of hundreds of IMN members they killed, the Nigerian Army officials have been working out how they could at least significantly put down the number of corpses buried in the grave.
“At a follow-up testimony at the Judicial Commission, they bluntly refused to acknowledge the hundreds killed and buried in the mass grave, claiming that they handed over only “a few” to state officials for burial. The Islamic Movement in Nigeria wishes to make it categorically clear that the site of the mass grave where the Kaduna state government admitted that it had buried 347 of those killed by the Nigerian military in Zaria last December is a crime scene, hence any attempt to tamper with it would not only be taken as a sacrilege and unacceptable, but also as an attempt to tamper with an important exhibit, which is a serious crime in itself.
“We wish to also show our dissatisfaction with the reaction of the government at all levels to the disclosure of the existence of mass grave. The least we expected were steps to protect and safeguard the place by independent-minded bodies, to prevent any attempts at mischievous alteration or obliteration of crime facts by perpetrators. If this confession of mass grave were in other climes, it would have been accorded all the protection of a crime scene, so that eventually justice will be done to the victims. Surprisingly however, the site is left very vulnerable to mischief-makers.
“It remains on record that government officials testifying before the Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba-led commission had confessed to burying at least 347 corpses in a mass grave. If the military is claiming that only a “few” corpses were buried there, there should be no hasty unilateral action on any of the parties disputing the figures. Such must be done under the watchful eyes of independent observers and international community”.