Nigeria army’s Chief General Staff Tukur Yusuf Buratai told an inquiry on Tuesday that his soldiers had acted appropriately during a bloody raid last month on a minority Shi’ite sect in which at least 60 people were killed.
He said that his officers and soldiers “acted in accordance to the rule of engagement and to the task given them by their commanders”.
He was giving evidence to an inquiry set up by the National Human Rights Commission, which is looking into last month’s raid on the headquarters of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN).
I was involved and my officers and soldiers acted in accordance with the rule of engagement.
“I’m here because I was there during the incident. I was involved and my officers and soldiers acted in accordance with the rule of engagement,” Buratai told an inquiry panel of the National Human Rights Commission into the raid.
“There is no way we would pick our weapons and deliberately violate what we have been tasked and paid to defend and protect,” added the army chief.
Members of the Shi’ite sect are also expected to give evidence to the inquiry panel which was set up to establish what happened in the raid and sat for the first time on Tuesday. It has the power to impose fines and payment of compensation.
Most of Nigeria’s Muslims, who number tens of millions, are Sunni, including the Boko Haram jihadist militants who have killed thousands in bombings and shootings, mainly in the northeast, since 2009.
However, in the nation of 170 million people, there are also several thousand Shi’ite Muslims whose movement was inspired by the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Shi’ite Iran.
Iran condemned last month’s raid and summoned Nigeria’s ambassador to Tehran.