A five-man panel set up by the National Human Rights ?Commission will today begin hearing on the clash between the Nigerian Army and members of the Shiite sect in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, ?arrived the headquarters of the commission in Abuja where he is expected to make presentation during the hearing at 11.31am.
Earlier, some members of the Shi’ite group had trooped to the commission on the Aguiyi Ironsi Road in Maitama, Abuja to demand the release of their leader, who is currently held in custody since the clash occurred on December 13, 2015.
The panel has as its chairman, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, who is a lawyer and director, monitoring department of the commission.
Other members are Messrs A. A Yakubu, Halilu Adamu, Babangida Labaran and Kabiru Elayo.
The panel whose task will cover six terms of reference was given two months to complete its assignments and submit its report.
While inaugurating the panel on December 21, 2015, Prof. Bem Angwe, the executive secretary of the National Human Rights Commission said the move was necessitated by the petition submitted to the commission by the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai; his convoy and members of the Shiite sect in Zaria on December 13, 2015.
Though the Army said in its petition that seven members of the sect were killed in order to save the life of the Chief of Army Staff during the incident, there were reports that members of the sect who died was in scores.
Angwe said apart from the Army’s petition, the commission also received another petition from some followers of the Shiite sect seeking, “the intervention of the commission for the release of some of their members trapped in a tunnel since the Sunday, December 13, 2015 incident”.
He said the commission’s subsequent intervention had since led to the release of about 51 members of the sect from the tunnel.
The panel is expected under its terms of reference read by Angwe on Monday “to find out the immediate and remote causes of the violations”.
The rest of the terms of reference are, “To find out those responsible or culpable for the violations?; to recommend remedies if possible for the violations; to find out those who lost their lives and properties destroyed on both sides during the clash; to make recommendations for damages where appropriate and for prevention of future violations; any other directives by the Executive Secretary.”
Angwe said the setting up of the panel was in line with the commission’s mandate “to receive complaints on human rights violation, monitor and investigate such allegations with a view to making appropriate determination in the circumstance”.
While urging the members to be diligent in the discharge of the “very serious national assignment”, Angwe reminded them of the commission’s power “to summon any person or any institution ?that has information, document, or any material that will assist you in your task”.