By Dapo Akinrefon
LAGOS—HUMAN Rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, yesterday, petitioned the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, to investigate the killing of 492 Shiites by the Army and the Police between 2014 and 2018.
In a petition, Falana flayed the Nigeria Army and Nigeria Police Force over infringements of the fundamental rights of the Shiites.
He, however, threatened to report the ”genocidal acts and crimes against humanity being committed by well known officials of the security agencies to the Special Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in contravention of article 7 of the Rome Statute.”
The petition reads: “In spite of the duty imposed on the Federal Government to respect the fundamental rights of every person living in Nigeria the Nigeria Army and Nigeria Police Force have embarked on the systematic infringements of the fundamental rights of the Shiites to life, personal liberty, fair hearing, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of association and assembly.
In particular, not less than 492 Shiites were recklessly massacred in Zaria, Kaduna, Sokoto, Kano and Abuja by armed military and police personnel from 2014 to 2018. A number of other Shiites, who were arrested for demonstrating against disobedience of court orders by the Federal Government, were alleged to have been tortured to death in detention camps.
“Apart from such state sponsored killings the security forces have violently disrupted the meetings, religious processions, protest marches and rallies convened by the Shiites and thereby prevented them from protesting the illegal incarceration of their leaders. General Buratai justified the alleged killings on the grounds that the Shiites had plotted to assassinate him.
But the judicial commission of inquiry set up by the Kaduna state government to probe the attack found that the genocidal attacks unleashed on the Shiites were premeditated the Federal Government and the relevant state governments have deliberately refused to prosecute the well known violators of the rights of the Shiites.”
Lampooning the army and the police’over the killings, Falana gave a breakdown of the alleged killings.
He said: “In July 2014, the Army killed 35 Shiites including 3 children of Sheik Elzakzaky at a religious convention held at Zaria. Governor Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna State paid a condolence visit to Elzakzaky in his residence in Zaria. Even though a delegation of the National Human Rights Commission led by its former Chairman, Professor Chidi Odinkalu, publicly condemned the killing of the 35 Shiite and apologized on behalf of the Federal Government the culprits were not brought to justice.
“The procession of the Shiites to mark Ashura in Kano on November 29, 2015 was violently disrupted by the Police. Suddenly, there was a bomb explosion which killed 22 Shiites. The Boko Haram terrorist sect was alleged to have claimed responsibility for the bomb attack.
“On December 12, 2015, the army killed 348 Shiites at a religious ceremony for allegedly disrupting the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff Lt. General Tukur Buratai. Although Sheik Elzakzaky was not at the religious ceremony the army invaded his house two days later, shot at him and his wife and set the house ablaze. Three of his children were killed in his presence while other family members who survived the violent attack were seriously injured.
“Without any post mortem or coroner’s inquest the army buried the bodies of the slain Shiites in a mass grave in Mango, Kaduna state. The Kaduna state government proceeded to demolish the houses of Sheik Elzakzaky and other leaders of the Shia community in Zaria. The judicial commission of enquiry set up by the state government to probe the incident recommended the prosecution of the culprits but the Kaduna state government has refused to bring the killers to justice.”
“13 Shiites were killed during multiple attacks on the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria by the Police and a mob in Sokoto, Kano and Sokoto on October 12, 2016.” During the attack the police injured about 20 other Shiites.
“Three Shiites were killed in Kano when the police opened fire on the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria on November 6, 2017 during an annual religious procession in Kano.
“20 Shiites and a police man were killed on November 14, 2017 at Tamburawa on the outskirts of Kano city when the Police violently stopped a procession of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria.
“The leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in Sokoto State, Malam Kasim Rinintawaye died on February 9, 2018 following injuries sustained by him when he was shot by the police during a peaceful march in Abuja to demand the release of Sheik Elzakzaky from custody.”
“On April 16, 2018, the police killed a Shiite while trying to prevent the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria from staging a protesting in Abuja to demand for the release of Sheik Elzakzaky from detention.
“Over 50 Shiites have been slaughtered in Abuja in the ongoing violent attacks on members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria by the army and the police. In defending its participation in the official pogrom the army claimed that “during the encounter 3 members of the sect were killed.”
He, however, urged the commission to “restrain the heads of the Nigeria Army, Nigeria Police Force and State Security Service (who are Sunnis) from further deploying the machinery of the Federal Government to prosecute an intra-religious war we urge you to arrest the extermination of the Shiites without any further delay.