Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, on Monday issued seven days ultimatum to the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, to begin investigation into the alleged killing of 492 Shiites by the Nigerian army and police between 2014 and 2018.
He warned that if the commission failed to grant his request to begin investigations into the killing within seven days, he would not hesitate 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.
Falana, in a letter written to the Executive Secretary, NHRC lamented that 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 had 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.
He said in particular, not less than 492 Shiites were recklessly massacred in Zaria, Kaduna, Sokoto, Kano and Abuja by armed military and police personnel from 2014-2018, saying that 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.
According to him, apart from such state sponsored killings, the security forces had 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.
Falana said General Buratai justified the brutal killing on the grounds that the Shiites had plotted to assassinate him, but that 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 that the relevant state governments had deliberately refused to prosecute the well known violators of the rights of the Shiites.
The human rights lawyer alleged that that 35 Shiites members were killed in Zaria in July 2014 by the army while 22 Shiites were also killed by a bomb in Kano on November 29, 2015, adding that 348 Shiites were killed in Zaria in December 2015 by the army.
Falana also wanted the NHRC to probe killing of 13 Shiites in Kano, Sokoto and Katsina on October 12, 2016 by the Police; killing of three Shiites in Kano On November 6, 2017 by the Police, as well as the killing of 20 Shiites in Kano On November 14, 2017 by the Police and the killing of one Shiite in Abuja on April 16, 2018 by the Police.
He added that the commission must investigate the massacre of 49 Shiites in Abuja in October 2018 by the army and police, lamenting that over 50 Shiites had been slaughtered in Abuja in the ongoing violent attacks on members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria by the army and the police, adding that subversion of the Rule of Law by the Federal Government must be looked into.
“The violent disruption of the religious processions and protest marches of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria resulting in the brutal killing of not less than 492 Shiites from July 2014 to November 2018 constitutes a violation of the fundamental rights of the Shiites to life, freedom of thought, conscience and religion and freedom of expression, assembly and association guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Act. Although the military and police personnel who killed 49 Shiites in the last week have not been arrested the Nigeria Police Force has arraigned about 300 Shiites with terrorism.
“Since the Nigerian Army has no powers under the Armed Forces Act to stop or disrupt any rally or procession convened by any group of citizens in any part of Nigeria you ought to point out that the violent attacks on the Shiites by military personnel cannot be justified in law. More so, that the fundamental right of the Nigerian people to convene and participate in rallies and meetings without police permit has been upheld by the Nigerian courts. Indeed, based on such judicial decisions, the Nigeria Police Force has been mandated by the combined effect of the Public Order Act and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) to provide adequate security for all persons who participate in public meetings, rallies and processions held in Nigeria,” he said.
Falana requested from the NHRC that in order 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. 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 in this letter.”
“Take notice that if you fail to grant our request within seven days of the receipt of this letter we shall not hesitate 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 request will be anchored on the unwillingness or inability of the Federal Government to prosecute the criminal elements who are involved in the reckless massacre of the Shiites,” Falana warned.