No fewer than 347 bodies were buried in a mass grave after the December 12, last year clash between members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, otherwise known as the Shiite, and soldiers.
Secretary to the Kaduna State Government (SSG), Balarabe Abbas Lawal gave this figure yesterday when he appeared before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry probing the violence.
He said the bodies were given a mass burial on December 14 on Mando – Zaria road.
The bodies were conveyed in two batches of 191 and 156 from the Army depot in Zaria and Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, (ABUTH), Shika to the burial site, according to him
Lawal spoke on why the government demolished the Gyelasu residence of the Shiite leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, Hussainiyya centre, Dembo centre, Jushi and the houses of Alhaji Aminu Idris and Alhaji Tijjani Mohammed.
He said the structures were demolished because they did not meet the standards and not out of ulterior motives or for political reasons.
The SSG said 189 suspects were being prosecuted for alleged involvement in the Zaria crises while one suspect had died in custody.
He said the state government had received several security reports from the Directorate of State Security (DSS) on the activities of the movement.
According to him, several measures had been taken to address the situation before it finally escalated into the clash with the Nigerian Army.
He said a report from a team of engineers that inspected the structures said the buildings were failed structures. They were demolished in the interest and safety of the public, Lawal said.
Corroborating Lawal’s position, the General Manager of Kaduna State Public Works Agency, (KAPWA), Tanimu Abubakar and Deputy Director, Ministry of Works and Transport, Muhammad Lawal Magaji, said in the course of carrying out its inspection on the structures, it observed that the buildings were damaged, thereby due for demolition to save lives and property.
The Director General of Interfaith, Muhammad Namadi Musa, said the burial was carried out between midnight and 5am.
He said: “On 13th December, I received a phone call from the SSG to come to the Government House after which I was directed to go to Zaria to find out the number of bodies and how they would be buried.
“I moved in company of the Commissioner of Police straight to ABUTH, Zaria to ascertain the number of bodies of which he went, saw and counted 156.
“At the Nigerian Depot, the SSG directed me to meet with Major Ogundare regarding the bodies there. After introducing myself, he refused to let me know the number; but later on, the SSG called me and told me the number.
“He also confirmed the number while they were being buried, as he counted them one after the other as they were laid in one grave.
“We left the Nigerian Army Depot with three heavy duty trucks and 60 young officers who escorted them to assist in offloading the bodies. From ABUTH, Zaria, five small trucks carried the 196 corpses. Most corpses were covered with black materials and they included women and children,” he concluded.