Rights group carpets El-Rufai over ban on Shiites, applauds Rights Commission on Buratai

Posted by News Express | 12 October 2016 | 2,005 times

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A civil society group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has expressed satisfaction with some aspects of the recommendations of the Kaduna State's judicial commission of inquiry on the Shiites/Army clash, described the ban on the exercise of the fundamental freedoms of religion of members of the Shiites Islamic Movement as ultra vires, retrogressive and capable of stoking the embers of religious violence in Nigeria.

The group also commended the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) over the clean human rights bill, and the non-indictment of the Army Chief Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai over last November Shiites/Army clash.

The rights group, however, lambasted the Kaduna State government for reportedly banning members of the Shiites Islamic Movement from exercising their freedom of Religion.

HURIWA said no state governor has the power to stop citizens from peacefully exercising their freedoms of conscience and religion just as it encouraged the group to mount a legal challenge to overturn what it described as “the manifest illegality by Governor Nasir El-Rufai who has showed dangerous aversion to dissenting views.”

National Coordinator of the group, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and its National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, in a statement, said it was heart-warming that both the Kaduna State's judicial commission of inquiry on the November 2015 clash between Shiites Islamic Movement and the Army and that of NHRC vindicated Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai of willfully ordering the killings of members of Shiites Islamic movement who allegedly threatened his life.

HURIWA said: "We are happy that General Buratai personally filed petition before the National Human Rights Commission against members of Shiites movement for alleged attempt on his life and those of his entourage who were headed towards Zamfara State through Zaria in Kaduna State. Specifically the panel that investigated the matter within the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission gave a vote of confidence and exonerated the Chief of Army Staff which to us is a further confirmation that the decision of HURIWA to partner with the Nigerian Army to broaden the frontiers of mainstreaming the respect for human rights in the internal security operation of the military was well thought out and salutary. We hope to continue as long as the Army's high command continues to show commitments towards respect for human rights and the imperative of investigating and sanctioning their operatives who violate the fundamental human rights of the citizenry."

Whilst urging for the implementation of the recommendations of especially the panel set up at the national level, the group has asked the members of the Shiites Islamic Movement not to take the laws into their hands but to abide by the principles of Rule of Law even as they disagree substantially with both panels.

On the reported declaration of the Shiites Islamic Movement by the Kaduna State governor as an illegal body, the rights group said the decision amounted to a resort to self-help and an exercise in brazen display of abuse of office.

The rights group has therefore asked the members of Shiites Islamic Movement unhappy with the decision  to follow the constitutionally stipulated mechanisms to seek redress rather than embarking on violent unrest.

The rights group said Section 6 of the Nigerian Constitution has made ample provisions of the appropriate judicial forum to address such matters and to provide redress.

HURIWA stated: “Our position is that Shiites Islamic Movement members should be allowed to peacefully enjoy their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms as enshrined in the Chapter four of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). Under our statutes, citizens are guaranteed the Rights to freedom of Conscience and Religion. Under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ‘Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.’ This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.”

HURIWA said the Kaduna State Governor must not be allowed to get away with this brazen display of disregard to the Constitutional provision on Freedom of Religion since that could constitute a dangerous precedent for further abuses of these rights of other Nigerians by other State governments especially in most Northern States whereby governors are already breaching Section 10 of the Constitution which rules out the existence of a State religion.

HURIWA said although the Nigerian state may derogate from allowing the exercise of these freedoms temporarily but except and unless this extreme extra-legal measure is necessary for the protection of public safety just as the group said, a state governor lacks the territorial jurisdiction to exercise this ouster clause in this instance whereby the religious group is present in all parts of Nigeria.

•Photo shows Governor El-Rufai.

Source: News Express

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