Human Rights Commission resumes Army-Shi’ite hearing

Ebele Okoye, Abuja

Group picture: left of Bem Angwe: Leader of the Delegation, Abdulrahman Abubakar. Right of Bem Angwe on black suit: Chairman Special Panel of Investigation onto the clash: Anthony Ojukwu.

The National Human Rights Commission has reiterated that the commission will observe the highest form of fairness in the investigation of the encounter between the Nigerian Army and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, which happened last year.

Executive Secretary of the Commission Prof. Bem Angwe gave this reassurance to Nigerians, while giving his speech to open the second day of hearing by the commission on the matter, at its headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria’s Capital.

The second day of hearing was with the accused, which are the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, also known as the Shi’ite Sect, the complainant being the Army having come on the first day of hearing.

Prof Angwe while welcoming the group, assured them of the effort of the National Human Rights Commission in seeing that such occurrences were averted and that justice would surely be served on the case.

“What I must let you know is that this commission is going to be very very fair, this commission is going to be impartial, this commission is determined to listen and to have every information that will enable this commission take an informed decision on this matter in line with the constitutional provisions, in line with the laws establishing this institution and in line with the desire of the Nigerian people.

Prof Bem Angwe
Prof Bem Angwe at the hearing

What I want to assure you is that we will get to the truth of this matter and when by the grace of God we get to the truth of this matter, we will let Nigerians know and we will make our recommendations as appropriate and I also want to let you know that this National Human Rights Commission today, do have the power to take decisions that are binding, as decisions of the court and that the recommendations of this commission are also binding on all such authorities to whom those recommendations are addressed,” he said

Spokesperson of the Shi’ite delegation and Leader of the Free Zakzaky Group, Abdulrahman Abubakar, while saying the clash was a deliberate and calculated act by the Army, explained that the group hoped to obtain justice from the hearings, just like the commission had promised.

“We do hope as the Executive Secretary has said, they are ready to do justice in the course of trying to unravel what has happened or the circumstances that led to this unfortunate incident which, as many said, it is avoidable, but unfortunately we don’t know why it wasn’t avoided.

 Leader of the Delegation, Abdulrahman Abubakar.
Leader of the Free Zakzaky group, Abdulrahman Abubakar.

So at this juncture, I do pray that all who love this country and love humanity would try all they could to see that the truth has been made public, so that we know the causes why this unfortunate incident happened. Because as far as we are concerned, it is something that is pre-meditated, well planned and executed, but it is the love of Nigerians which the Almighty God has that these things have come true. Today, we are here to maybe hear a formal opening to hear the view of those who are survivors, who survived this incident,” Abdulrahman said.

NHRC will also invite other stakeholders such as the Nigeria Police Force and the Department of State Services, DSS, to give their testimonies to the investigative panel on a later date.