The Federal Government’s failure to charge anyone two years after government troops killed more than 350 Shiite Muslims in a northern city is evidence of official tolerance for impunity, Amnesty International said.
“The Nigerian authorities’ failure to hold anyone to account for the killing of hundreds of women, men and children by soldiers in Zaria, shows the acceptance of a culture of impunity for violations of human rights in the country,” Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International’s Nigeria director, said Tuesday in an emailed statement. “A full independent forensic investigation into this crime under international law is long overdue.”
Nigerian defence headquarters spokesman John Enenche didn’t answer two calls to his mobile phone after office hours seeking comment.
Nigerian troops clashed with members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, led by Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, after accusing the group of setting up an illegal roadblock and attempting to kill the nation’s chief of army staff, Tukur Buratai, when his convoy passed through the city of Zaria on Dec. 12, 2015. Soldiers later attacked three of the group’s compounds in Zaria over two days, killing hundreds of people, rights groups alleged.
Amnesty International “has identified and visited the location of a possible mass grave” in relation to the killings, the London-based group said. “Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Federation should order that the bodies in the mass graves are exhumed,” it said.
The government hasn’t publicly condemned the military action, Amnesty said.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country of more than 180 million people, is almost evenly split between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south. The north is overwhelmingly Sunni, with a minority of Shiites estimated to number about 3 million, mostly followers of El-Zakzaky.
Since the clashes two years ago, El-Zakzaky and his wife have been detained without trial by the authorities, Amnesty International said.