Buratai justifies Shi'ites' killings in Zaria

By The Citizen

The Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Tuesday spoke for the first time on the bloody clash between soldiers in his convoy and members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (also known as Shi'ites) in Zaria on December 12, 2015, justifying the action of his men which reportedly resulted in the death of scores of members of the sect.

Buratai, who spoke at the headquarters of the National Human Rights Commission in Abuja during the opening ceremony of the sitting of an investigative panel set up by the commission on the clash.

Buratai, who explained how his convoy was held hostage by members of the sect, said his convoy was blocked in Zaria. He added that his men acted within the rules of engagement in trying to clear the way.

He said, 'The circumstances that led to the incident of December 12, 2015 have been well articulated by officers that were involved. I was in the convoy. It was my convoy, the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff.

'I left Dutse that morning, hoping to arrive Zaria on time, to attend the passing out parade of the 73 Regular Recruit of Intakes. But, the convoy was blocked when we entered the Zaria City.

'What transpired has been documented by the officers that were with me. They have also made their own statements. And they are here to give full account of what transpired. We are here because we respect human rights.

'We are here because we know the sanctity of the human life which we have sworn to protect. One of our constitutional roles is to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria, which also include the totality of the protection of human rights and indeed, the property of every Nigeria. We have laid down our lives as army officers and soldiers over the years in the course of performing our constitutional roles.

'There is no way we will pick our weapons and deliberately violate the rights of the people, that we have been paid to defend and protect. This is quite fundamental. We have constitutional responsibility. Drawn from that constitutional responsibility, we also have our rules and regulations. And drawn from that, we have a duty to perform in restoring peace and order where such peace and order are being disturbed. So, we followed our rules of engagement, which are derived from the various laws.'

He said those accusing the Army of violating the rights of members of the group were insincere.