Falana calls for probe over killing ‘over 492 Shi’ites since 2014’
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POPULAR human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has called on the National Human Rights Commission to investigate the killing of over 492 members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) since 2014.
Falana, who is also the counsel to Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, leader of the Shi’ite sect, made this known in a statement on Monday, condemning the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government for what he described as the “systematic infringements of the fundamental rights” of the group.
He noted that FG “has continued to justify such subversion of the Rule of Law under the pretext of protecting national security”.
Falana’s statement is coming days after the Nigerian army tried to justify the killing of some Shi’ite protesters in Abuja, whom the army said had thrown stones at them.
The protesters were demanding the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky who has been in the custody of the Department of State Services since December 2015.
Falana pointed out that “in two separate suits, the Kano and Sokoto judicial divisions of the federal high court have upheld the fundamental rights of the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria to life, freedom of religion and freedom of expression including the right to engage in peaceful processions. But in utter contempt of the federal high court, the Federal Government has refused to release Sheik Elzakzaky and his wife from illegal custody,” Falana stated.
“It may interest you to know that the 100 Shiites who were charged with the offence of culpable homicide arising from the alleged killing of a soldier in Zaria on December 12, 2015, have been discharged and acquitted by the Kaduna State high court. Following the dismissal of the frivolous charge, the Kaduna state government has turned around to charge Elzakzaky and his wife with culpable homicide before the high court in Kaduna for the alleged killing of the same soldier!”
Falana also listed nine incidents where members of the Shi’ite sect have been killed but the federal government did nothing to prosecute the perpetrators even though they are “well known”.
The incidents include the killing of 35 Shiites, including three of Zakzaky’s children, at a religious convention in Zaria, in July 2014. According to Falana, Nasir El-Rufai, who at the time was a governorship aspirant, visited El-Zakzaky to condole with him. Also, the National Human Rights Commission, headed at the time by Chidi Odinkalu, apologised to the IMN on behalf of the Nigerian government.
Another of such incidents happened on December 12, 2015, when 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,” Falana stated.
“Since the nation cannot afford to turn the Islamic Movement of Nigeria into another terrorist organization like the satanic Boko Haram sect, we request the National Human Rights Commission to conduct a full-scale inquiry into the gross violations of the fundamental rights of the Shiites highlighted.”