By Onozure Dania
Two civil society groups, Access to Justice,AJ and the Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria, NOPRIN, have requested the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. António Guterres to visit Nigeria as well as intervene in the alleged human rights violation in the country.
The groups in a joint letters addressed to the UN, stated the visit of the Secretary General become imperative owing to deteriorating human rights situation and wave of killings of Shiites members by soldiers of the Nigerian Army.
According to them, “if the UN and the international community fail to act on these matters, Nigeria’s already grave human rights and security situation may worsen calamitously, putting planned elections early next year in some jeopardy.”
The letter informed the world body that Nigeria’s military forces, have, “over the last four years, committed widespread and massive atrocities against civilian populations and members of minority religious and political organizations and that these atrocities are continuing and intensifying occasioning much bloodshed and deaths of many people each time they occur.”
The letter recounted the latest clashes between the Army and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, on October 27 and 29 respectively, in the FCT Abuja, citing Amnesty International’s assessment, that “.. the horrific use of excessive force by soldiers and police led to the killing of at least 45 supporters of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) over two days…”
It further talked about past atrocities committed by Nigeria’s military forces against members of the Shiites between 2014-2018 and said the military has killed over one thousand members of IMN within this period.
It deplored the Nigerian government’s consistent failure to hold military officials accountable for the atrocities they allegedly commit, as well as its national and international responsibility to investigate civilian deaths caused by military forces, saying this failure “has emboldened the military, amplified the culture of impunity within it, and ostensibly encouraged the military to expand and deepen its violent crackdown against members of the IMN.”
To this end, the groups requested the UN to among other things place the situation of Nigeria’s military Forces’ killings of Shiite members before the Security Council of the United Nations and demand that the government of Nigeria takes urgent and specific steps to end the impunity of its security forces, particularly “to demand that its military forces refrain from using deadly, and
disproportionate force against peaceful protesters.”
They also requested for “a resolution of the Security Council urging the International Criminal Court to expedite its investigation of allegations of war crimes and genocide against Nigerian military forces, in order to bring those responsible to justice and accountability as well as refer the deteriorating human rights situation in Nigeria to other mechanisms within the United Nations.
Giving past instances of the atrocities committed against the Shiites, the letter recalled the Judicial Panel of Inquiry Report into the 2015 clashes between the Army and the Shiites over the barricading of the road being used by the Chief of Army Staff. The letter informs the UNSG that the Judicial Panel of Inquiry had recommended prosecutions of persons who were implicated in the deaths of both a Soldier and over 348 Shiites killed in the clashes.