Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai inaugurated the Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the Shi'ites-Army clash in Zaria on Friday, January 29 at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House.
The Commission is being chaired by Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba, the presiding justice of the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal. The commission has twelve Commissioners that include:
2. Prof. Umar Labdo – Commissioner. Professor Labdo teaches in the Faculty of Humanities, Northwest University, Kano.
3. Malam Salihu Abubakar – Commissioner. Malam Abubakar is a former director of the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
4. Prof. Auwalu Yadudu – Commissioner. He is an accomplished professor of Law, and former Special Adviser on Legal Matters during the Abacha government.
5. Prof. Ibrahim Gambari – Commissioner. Professor Gambari is a former minister of Foreign Affairs. He was also Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, and headed the UN department of Political Affairs. He is often consulted on African Affairs, Peacekeeping and Global Security.
6. Mr. Afakirya Gadzama – Commissioner. Mr. Gadzama, a career intelligence professional, is a former Director-General of the Department of State Services, where he served in various positions, including as Kaduna State director of the agency.
7. Brig-Gen. Aminun-Kano Maude (rtd) – Commissioner. General Maude is a retired Deputy Director, Army Finance and Accounts. He holds a Ph.D in Accountancy.
8. Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim – Commissioner. Dr. Ibrahim is a well-known civil society leader and columnist. He taught politics at the Ahmadu Bello University, and has researched and written about religion.
9. Mrs. Khadijah Hawaja Gambo – Commissioner. Mrs. Gambo is a gender rights activist, social entrepreneur and conflict resolution expert active in Plateau and neighbouring states. She is fluent in Arabic.
10. Mr. Bilya Bala – Commissioner. Mr. Bala is an accomplished banker and journalist. He is currently editor-in-chief of the People’s Daily newspaper.
11. Maj-Gen Alexander Anjili Mshelbwala – Commissioner. General Mshelbwala is a retired infantry general knowledgeable in civil-military relations and counter-insurgency. He was former Military Secretary of the Nigerian Army.
12. Mrs. Desire Deseye Nsirim CP (Rtd.) – Commissioner. Mrs. Nsirim was a distinguished police officer. She retired after being the commissioner of police of Niger State.
Dr. Bala Babaji, Director of the Centre for Islamic Legal Studies, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria is to serve as Secretary to the Commission. He is to be assisted by a secretariat with experts drawn from academia, civil society and the public service of the state and the Federation.
The counsel to the commission is Malam Yusuf Ali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Body of Benchers.
SPEECH BY THE GOVERNOR AT THE INAUGURATION:
We are here today to perform a solemn duty, to kickstart the work of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the 12-14 December 2015 clashes in Zaria. As you are aware, lives were lost and property were destroyed during the tragic clashes between the group known as the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and a detachment of the Nigerian Army. For reasons of accountability and transparency, the Kaduna State Government deems it right and proper to institute this Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the incidents. This will allow all parties to state their case and afford the public a fair and accurate accounting of the events.
The Kaduna State Government is of the firm belief that such an authoritative account will assign administrative and criminal responsibility where due. In addition to determining responsibility, the outcome of this Inquiry will hopefully enable government and society to understand the historical background, and the culture and practices that are relevant in providing context to the regrettable events. The government is especially concerned that all citizens take seriously their duty of allegiance to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to respect the prerogatives of state institutions, to abide by the laws of the country and to exercise their freedom to practice their faith in ways that do not infringe on the rights of other citizens.
Since the government announced its decision to constitute this Judicial Commission of Inquiry, we have been asked why we are establishing this Inquiry in the light of certain actions the government has taken. Our response is that it is neither right nor prudent for the Kaduna State Government to abdicate its constitutional responsibility, and to conceal this under the cover of a commission of inquiry. Governance cannot be suspended even for processes as weighty as a Judicial Commission of Inquiry. Where the government has evidence that crimes have been committed, it is only proper that prosecutions be initiated.
In the aftermath of the clashes, it became the duty of the municipal authorities to restore normalcy to the affected neighbourhoods. Measures to safeguard public health and safety by removing unsound structures, and clearing debris from the scene of the clashes thus became unavoidable. People were rescued from the debris, while corpses which could have constituted a risk to public health were discovered and removed. The governance of the state cannot be paused because of the events of December 2015.
In all our actions since the events, we have sought only to discharge the normal obligations of government to protect the rights of all citizens with equal concern and to protect the public interest. Kaduna State bears too vividly the scars of the horrors that have been inflicted on it by ethno-communal and religious upheavals. We have a duty to promote peace, foster harmony, and end the legacy of division by ensuring that the law applies equally to everyone.
Let it be clear that the Kaduna State Government is convinced that a Judicial Commission of Inquiry provides a chance to understand the events that happened, their background, establish casualties, assign responsibilities and make appropriate recommendations to the federal and state governments, so that such tragedies may be avoided in future. Those that wrongly believe that a federal government inquiry is necessary to satisfy them should note that under the 1999 Constitution, only State Governments can institute judicial commissions of inquiry in their states. The Federal Government can only do so in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja. Those that argue that a state level inquiry cannot invite, compel attendance and interrogate the criminal or administrative responsibility of federal actors are also wrong as the laws of Kaduna State apply to every person that is engaged in acts of omission or commission in our territory whether that person or group is military, paramilitary or civilian. Members of the Armed Forces, like all citizens, are subject to state and federal laws. We have been deliberate in consulting widely with the governments of the 19 Northern States and the Federal Government before concluding on the need for this Inquiry.
These distinguished Nigerians have been selected for their integrity, skills, experience and competence. They are not representing any organization, group or interest. It is their knowledge, professional skills, character and record of service that qualified them to be chosen for this important national assignment. We are confident that the caliber of persons we have today and the diverse pool of knowledge, experience and patriotism they collectively bring will help our state and our country to ensure that the needless deaths of our citizens that occurred in the December 2015 clashes are never repeated.
I wish to thank the Chairman, Members and Secretary of this Judicial Commission of Inquiry for accepting to undertake this assignment. I want to recognize and also thank Yusuf Ali, SAN and the team of lawyers working with him for graciously accepting to serve as Counsel to the Commission.
My Lord Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, this Inquiry may well turn out to be a thankless assignment for which you will be accused, smeared and attacked. Some of it may already have started. It is however a task that needs the attention of our best and brightest. It requires the thickest of skins. You are the thirteen wise men and women that we believe will do this for Nigeria under the guidance of Almighty God. I therefore urge you to take all present and future challenges in your stride while striving to be fair and just to everyone as required by our Constitution, laws, the Instrument and the rules of natural justice.
The Terms of the Inquiry are as follows:
i. To determine the immediate causes of the Clashes;
ii. To determine the historical circumstances, surrounding and contributory factors and remote causes of the Clashes;
iii. To ascertain the number of persons killed, wounded or missing during the Clashes;
iv. To identify all property alleged to have been damaged or destroyed during the Clashes, the owners or occupiers of such property and the value claimed by them for such damage or destruction;
v. To identify actions and omissions of relevant persons, traditional and religious institutions, Federal and State actors and emergency response agencies before, during and after the Clashes;
vi. To determine whether the actions and omissions identified in sub-paragraph (e) above were necessary, appropriate and sufficient in the circumstances in which they occurred;
vii. To determine the evolution of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, its organization, structure, membership, growth, assets, resources, culture and practices, and how any or all of these contributed to any engagement with the community, constituted authorities and the security agencies;
viii. To review all other factors, issues or matters, including the alleged involvement of foreign and domestic actors or their influence or instigation, that may have contributed to the incident or may conduce to such incidents in the future and make recommendations thereto;
ix. To make recommendations to the Kaduna State Government and the Federal Government as to direct or indirect responsibility for any acts of commission or omission identified in sub-paragraph (v) above;
x. To make recommendations as to actions to be taken to ensure that administrative or criminal responsibility is further determined by the appropriate administrative or judicial authorities for any identified acts or omissions;
xi. To make recommendations as to actions to be taken, policies to be developed and implemented to ensure that acts and omissions that may have contributed or led to the Clashes are pre-empted entirely or, where they occur, their negative effects are mitigated, in future;
xii. To recommend any matter for prosecution, further investigation or the convening of a separate inquiry to the appropriate Law Enforcement Agency, Government Department or Prosecutor regarding the conduct of a certain person or persons; and
xiii. To investigate any other matter incidental or relevant to these Terms of Inquiry which, in the Commission’s view, should be investigated and make any other pertinent recommendations that it deems necessary for the purpose.
The Kaduna State Government looks forward to receiving the interim and final reports of this Commission within six weeks after the first public sitting.
I am confident you will enjoy your stay in Kaduna. May the Almighty God guide and protect us all. Amen.
Thank you very much, and God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.