By Evelyn Usman
A coalition of human rights organization under the aegis of Centrum Initiative for Development and Fundamental Rights Advocacy, CIDFRA has called on the United Nations and other international organizations to prevail on the Nigerian government to release the Shia Muslim leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
It has also urged the international organizations to activate their treaties and prosecute those behind the attack of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN.
Describing the continued detention of El-Zakzaky and attack on his followers as a gross violation of their fundamental human rights, CIDFRA in a statement signed by Dr Hassan Bala and six other civil rights activists averred that Nigeria was not only violating its constitution but also the treaties it signed as members of various international communities to uphold the law and safeguard human rights.
The statement read: “El-Zakzaky and his wife have remained in detention since. What could be the government’s excuse? The Nigerian constitution has never been silent on outlining the fundamental human rights of its citizens as enshrined in chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Section 33 of the 1999 Constitution with respect to these rights, states that every person has a right to life and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of a criminal offense of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.
“The ill-treatment of members of this religious minority group and detention of their leader, Sheikh Zakzaky, and his wife Zeenat, in continuous disregard and contempt of an Abuja High Court order, to release them, and pay them the sum of N50 million as compensation, are fully documented”.
” Murder, Imprisonment and other severe deprivation of physical liberty are in violation of Customary rules of international law. The Anti Torture Act of 2017, prohibits all sorts of torture and persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious. Such vicious acts are indeed crimes against humanity.
“Also, according to the United Nations ‘Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide’, genocidal acts, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish. Also, in the Convention, genocide means acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. Such include, killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, among others.
“Nigeria as a country is a signatory to these human treaties that clearly state that genocide under any guise, whether conspiracy to commit, direct incitement to commit or even attempt to commit genocide are all punishable under international laws. And persons found guilty shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials, or private individuals. Therefore, International organisations should raise up to punish offenders found guilty in the El-Zakzaky case, ” Dr. Bala said.
Recall that El-Zakzaky and his wife were arrested after the bloody clash between Shiites and soldiers in the entourage of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen.Tukur Buratai, in Zaria, Kaduna state, in 2015.