The Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai, on 19th appeared before a panel of inquiry set up by the Kaduna state government over the December 12th clash between the Army and Shitte members that left over 60 people dead and many others injured. While testifying at the panel, Buratai justified the Army’s attack on the shittes, saying they acted within the law.
“The circumstances leading to the incident of December 12 have been articulated by the officers 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 in time, to attend the passing out parade of the 73 regular recruits. But the convoy was blocked when we entered Zaria. What transpired has been documented by the officers with me. They have also made their statements. 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 human life, which we have sworn to protect. One of our constitutional roles is to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria, which also includes the totality of the protection of human rights and indeed, the property of every Nigerian. 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 deliberatively violate the rights of the people, which 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 laws. The Army is a very respectable organisation. We are alive to our responsibilities. In doing so, we will not tolerate a situation where, individuals, in the name of human rights, continue to violate the rights of others and then turn back and accuse highly responsible organisations, such as the Army of human rights abuse. I believe those organisations crying against what the military has been doing are not being sincere. They can be termed agents of anarchy. They don’t want law and order to prevail in the society.” he said