Nigeria’s Human Rights body to hold special hearing over Dangote, Zakzaky killings

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has concluded arrangements to hold a special hearing on some of Nigeria’s most serious human rights violations in recent months.
Some of the cases listed for the hearing include the killing of seven youth by troops attached to Dangote Cement factory, Gboko, Benue State and the killing of over 30 members of Shite group in Zaria, Kaduna.
The Islamic group is led by prominent cleric, Ibrahim El Zakzaky. Three of his children were among those killed.
The commission will also consider the complaint by a former director of the financial intelligence department of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
An official of the commission who asked not to be named said the special hearing was planned for November.
The information was volunteered to PREMIUM TIMES following an accusation that the commission was not taking action to bring the killer soldiers in Gboko to book, months after the community petitioned it in search of justice.
“We have concluded arrangements to hold a special hearing not only on the Gboko killings but also on the one involving the killing of Ibrahim El-Zakzaky sect members in Kaduna.
“We are also planning to consider the complaint by a former director of the financial intelligence department of the EFCC,” the source confided in PREMIUM TIMES.
When contacted, the commission’s spokesperson, Fatima Mohammed, confirmed the planned special hearing.
She, however, insisted that the commission was not certain on the date of the hearing until the council meets and gives its approval.
“It is not certain yet because the council has to meet and decide on the issues to be outlined for the public hearing. I am sure the council will meet very soon and will take a decision on all the issues. Once the decision is taken, it will be made public and everybody will be invited,” Ms. Mohammed said.
She insisted that the commission could not give definite information on when the special hearing will take place but promised to communicate with the public as soon as it was fixed.
The NHRC was established by the National Human Rights Commission Act, 1995, as amended by the NHRC Act, 2010.
It was established based on the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly which enjoins member states to establish national human rights institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights.
In Nigeria, the NHRC serves as an extra-judicial mechanism for the enhancement of the enjoyment of human rights.
Part of its objective includes creating an enabling environment for the promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights.
It also provides platforms for public enlightenment, research and dialogue in order to raise awareness on human rights issues.
PREMIUM TIMES had on June 30, exposed the massacre of seven youth at Mr. Dangote’s multi-billion naira cement factory after demonstrators gathered to protest the shooting, by a soldier, of 19 year-old Mr. Jirbo.
Mr. Jirbo was attacked for relieving himself near the cement factory and refusing to pack the waste with his mouth when a soldier ordered him to do so.
Mr. Jirbo survived the attack but the bullet tore his mouth apart and left him permanently disfigured.
Villagers, who responded after the shooting by staging what several witnesses said was a peaceful demonstration to the Dangote factory, met a bloody pushback by the troops.
Hours after the protest, the soldiers opened fire, killing seven of the protesters including a woman, who was shot in the head at close range.
The 19 year-old woman,  Doose Ornguze, a resident of Tsekucha, near Mbayion, survived the first shot at her, and was trying to crawl to safety before a soldier walked up close and fired into her skull.
Ms. Ornguze was the parent figure for her two siblings, and managed to keep herself and two siblings in school, despite losing both parents years back.
Months of investigations by PREMIUM TIMES showed years of tension between Gboko community and Dangote company, and exposed how neither the government nor the company reached out to the community or punished the trigger-happy soldiers.
The military and police authorities told this newspaper in June that investigations were ongoing several months after the attack.
The Nigerian Human Rights Commission also said it was carrying out investigations on the killings and had reached out to the military and leaders of Gboko community.
While the government agencies were foot-dragging in their investigations, Mr. Dangote, who is Africa’s richest man, reached out to for settlement with members of Gboko community.
The Ter Gboko, Gabriel Shosum, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday, September 16, confirmed that Mr. Dangote settled with families of those killed and or injured during the March 18 attack.
He said cheques were handed over to the beneficiaries at the multi-purpose conference hall of the cement company on August 22.
According to the monarch, each family that lost a youth got N5 million cheque while those who were injured got cheques of N2 million each.
Mr. Shosum said, “There was nothing more than the assistance Mr. Dangote gave to the families of the deceased youth and those that were injured.
“I witnessed the handing over of the cheques with some of my traditional rulers. The plant manager and the community relations director led the delegation of Dangote Cement. The monies were given ranging from N2mllion to N5million.”
While Mr. Dangote had accepted responsibility and settled with the community, none of the government agencies that investigated the killings came up with any report on the matter.
The army, for instance has continued to dilly dally in taking action against the killers of the protesters months after it said it has opened investigation on the matter.
It was, however, fast in trying soldiers who it said attempted to kill their commanding officer, the then General Officer Commanding, GOC, of the newly created 7th Division in Maiduguri, Maj-Gen. Ahmed Mohammed.
That incident happened on May 14, over two months after the March 18 date when the Gboko natives were murdered.
Twelve of the soldiers involved in the Maiduguri incident have since been sentenced to death by a military court martial.

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