Shi’ite Members Protest in Abuja, Demand Release of Leader

Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Thursday, stormed Abuja in their hundreds, demanding the release of their detained, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
The Shi’ite leader has been in detention since the Movement clashed with the military in Zaria, Kaduna State between December 12 and 14, 2015.
The members, who were dressed in black attires marched peaceful along the streets and later conveyed at the Unity Fountain located between the Three Arms Zone and Maitama District.
They were encountered by the Police who tried to stop their protest. The Police reportedly resorted to the use of teargas causing pandemonium and stampede amongst the Shiites and road users.
The group earlier expressed fear that El-Zakzaky might die due to his bad health.
Many members of the sect were killed during bloody clash between Nigerian soldiers last year. Many are also reported to still be in the detention of the military.
Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to ensure prompt prosecution of Sheik El-Zakzaky and members of his group found culpable for the December 2015 clash between them and men of the Nigerian Army.
NHRC also suggested the prosecution of members of the Nigerian Army found culpable for disproportionate and unreasonable use of force in violation of the Rules of Engagement and Code of Conduct of the Nigerian Army during the clash.
These formed part of the recommendations contained in a draft report of the NHRC’s investigation into the incident. The draft report prepared by a six-man Special Investigation Panel constituted by the commission, was presented to NHRC’s Executive Secretary in Abuja by its Chairman, Anthony Ojukwu.
NHRC’s Executive Secretary, Prof Bem Angwe, who commended the panel for a job well done, assured that the final report will be made public later this year.
The panel accused the group of being responsible for the immediate cause by blocking a public highway and refusing to yield way when the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff ran into the blockade created by members of IMN, who were armed and became “riotous and constitution an obstruction on the road.
It recommended total ban, by the Federal, state and local governments, of the blockage of public roads for religious or other purposes like tax collection, social activities and others.
The NHRC panel faulted the Kaduna State Government and unnamed law enforcement agents for its inability to ascertain the actual number of dead and missing persons, the cause of their death and the value of assets lost in the incident.
It blamed the lack of “clear and conclusive evidence” about the dead on the hurried mass burial carried out by the state government without allowing specialists at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital to conduct the necessary examinations and tests of the corpses.
It said the sudden withdrawal of the IMN in the activities of the panel made it impossible to answer questions relating to the number of its members’ death, their identity and the number of their property affected.
The panel, which noted that the increasing involvement of the military in civil operations was not sustainable, suggested its discontinuation to avoid the increasing conflicts between the military and civil society.
It called for the establishment of a fresh public inquiry, equipped with forensic and all other necessary support to ascertain the actual number of persons missing or dead and causes of such deaths, the proportionality and reasonableness of the response of the Nigerian Army to the aggression of the IMN during the incident.
“The appropriate criminal prosecution for blocking the public highway by members of the IMN should be applied to the members and leadership of the IMN for failing to obey lawful directives when requested to do so by law enforcement officials.
“The leader of IMN should be tried speedily for any offences (if any) established against him and his organisation in line with the Constitution. However, the issue of his continued detention and violation of his right to liberty are already subject of litigation before courts of competent jurisdiction and therefore subjudice,” it said.
The panel recommended compensation for the dead and others, whose property were demolished by the state government. It urged both the Fed Govt and the Kaduna State to assume responsibility for the care and settlement of the medical bills of those injured in the incident, including El-Zakzaky and his group’s members.
It said it was able to ascertain among others, that there was violation of the rights to life (of those who died), to freedom of movement (as it relates to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and those in his convoy, who were obstructed by the blockage created by members of the IMN) and to property (in relation to property of IMN members and others destroyed without due process).
“The leadership and members and members of IMN were responsible for the abuse of the right to freedom of movement of the convoy of the COAS and other members of the public by blocking the public highway on December 12, 2-15.
“There was the mass demolition of properties by the Kaduna State Government as a result of the incident, without due process, thereby violating the right to property of the victims. The Kaduna State Government did not give figures of numbers of dead persons to the SIP when it visited the state government to request for this and other information on the dead persons,” it said.

Author: News Editor

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