KADUNA State government yesterday asked a Kaduna High Court to sentence 50 Shi’ite members to death for allegedly causing the death of a soldier.
The state government had filed a five-count charge against the accused before Justice David Wyom.
The state government accused them of criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, culpable homicide, disturbance of public peace and wrongful restrain.
In the petition, Bayero Diri, counsel to the government, said the offences are punishable under Sections 97, 221, 102, 106 and 225 of the penal code law, laws of Kaduna state 1991. The government said the offence was committed between December 12 and 14, 2015, in Zaria.
It alleged that the suspects, among other things, shot dead one Yakubu Dankaduna, a colonel of the Nigerian Army, “when he alighted from the convoy to disperse the IMN members.”
Section 102 of the penal code prescribes death sentence for such offence.
The prosecution told the court that they intend to present 39 witnesses.
The plea of the accused persons was not taken, as the judge adjourned sitting till May 16.
Fifty suspects were among the 265 persons currently in custody, who were arrested during the Shi’ites clash with the Nigerian Army on December 12 and December 14, 2015.
In a related development, Amnesty International (AI) said in a new report on the incident that soldiers burnt alive some Shi’ites and killed some innocent students during the clash.
In a report entitled: ‘Unearthing the truth: Unlawful killings and mass cover-up in Zaria’, the body alleged that the military was attempting to cover up its crimes.
AI said more than 350 people were killed, accusing the military of trying to conceal evidence.
“The true horror of what happened over those two days in Zaria is only now coming to light. Bodies littered the streets and piled outside the mortuary. Some of the injured were burnt alive,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s research and advocacy director for Africa.
“Our research, based on witness testimonies and analysis of satellite images, has located one possible mass grave. It is time now for the military to come clean and admit where it secretly buried hundreds of bodies.”
The report contains shocking witness testimony of large-scale unlawful killings said to be carried out by the military.
“IMN supporters, some armed with batons, knives, and machetes – had refused to clear the road near their headquarters, the Hussainiyya, for a military convoy to pass. The army has claimed that IMN supporters attacked the convoy in an attempt to assassinate the chief of army staff. IMN members denied this,” the report read.
“Following an initial confrontation, the military surrounded other locations where IMN supporters had gathered, notably at the residential compound of IMN leader, Ibrahim Al-Zakzaky. Some people were killed as a result of indiscriminate fire. Others appeared to have been deliberately targeted.
“Available information indicates that the deaths of protestors were the consequence of excessive, and arguably, unnecessary use of force.”
Children injured and killed
AI said a 16-year-old schoolgirl identified as Zainab revealed that: “We were in our school uniforms. My friend Nusaiba Abdullahi was shot in her forehead.
“We took her to a house where they treated the injured but, before reaching the house, she already died.”
A 10-year-old boy who was shot in the leg told Amnesty International how his elder brother was shot in the head as they tried to leave the compound.
“We went out to try to shelter in a nearby house but we got shot.”
Shot and burnt alive
On December 13, two buildings within Ibrahim Al-Zakzaky’s compound, one of which was being used as a makeshift medical facility and mortuary, were attacked by soldiers.
Alyyu, a 22-year-old student, told Amnesty International he was shot in the chest outside the compound and was taken inside for treatment:
“There were lots of injured people in several rooms.
There were dead bodies in a room and also in the courtyard.
“At about 12pm soldiers outside called on people to come out, but people were too scared to go out.
“We knew they would kill us. Soldiers threw grenades inside the compound. I saw one soldier on the wall of the courtyard shooting inside.”