Release El-Zakzaky and stop persecuting Shi’ites, Human Rights Watch tells Nigerian Government

Posted by News Express | 17 December 2016 | 2,626 times

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Detained Shi’ite leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.

The Human Rights watch has asked the Nigerian Government to obey a court order which ordered the immediate release of Shi’ite leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, from the detention of the Department of State Service.

El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenah had filed a suit against the Federal Government challenging their continued detention by the Nigerian Army.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole ordered that Zakzaky and his family should be released to the police who will then guard the defendants to a safe place.

He said the decision to hold the Islamic cleric and his wife for their safety was not based on law.

However, despite the ruling, the Shi’ite leader is yet to be released.

Now, Human Rights Watch in a statement warned against what it described as the “Violent repression of Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN.”

It asked the Government to stop the crackdown on the group and to also take “urgent steps to protect them, and hold those responsible for the unlawful deaths of group members to account.”

“Nigerian authorities should end their violent repression of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), and free its leader. The involvement of soldiers in the Zaria incidents, and subsequent police actions against the Islamic Movement raises major questions about Nigeria’s commitment to military reform,” the statement signed by Mausi Segun, senior Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, said.

It added: “Nigerian authorities should hold accountable anyone who has committed crimes against Islamic Movement members, and take immediate steps to comply with a federal court order mandating the release of Sheik El Zakzaky and his wife.

“Nigeria’s federal and state authorities should reconsider the heavy-handed crackdown against IMN members, take urgent steps to protect them, and hold those responsible for the unlawful deaths of group members to account.

“The government should carry out its law enforcement responsibilities without jeopardizing its own credibility by ignoring court decisions that rightly seek to check its agents’ excesses.”

The Shi’ite leader is being charged with criminal conspiracy, inciting public disturbances among others.

The Shi’ite members had clashed with the Army late last year during which hundreds of people were reportedly killed.

The Army subsequently took El-Zakzaky into custody before he was released to the police for investigation.

The Army had accused the Shi’ite group of attempting to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, but the Islamic movement said the soldiers simply attacked “defenseless people.”

A day after the bloody clash, armoured tanks were said to have demolished the Hussainiyya shrine and the residence of the leader of the sect in Zaria.

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai in January set up a committee to probe the clash.

The Committee earlier this year submitted the report of its findings
The judicial inquiry recommended that an Army General, Adeniyi Oyebade, and others members of the Army be prosecuted for the killing of the Shia Musllims in Zaria, northern Kaduna State.

According to the report, over 389 Shiite members were killed during the clash.

President, Muhammadu Buhari has already promised that he was studying the report before announcing appropriate response in due course. (TV360 Nigeria)

Source: News Express

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