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Nigeria: Demand for probe into ‘massacre’ of Nigerian Shia Muslims

15th Dec 2015
Nigeria: Demand for probe into ‘massacre’ of Nigerian Shia Muslims

LAGOS, (AA): Rights groups in Nigeria on Monday called for an investigation into the alleged killing of dozens of Shia Muslims by the army, including senior members of the sect, over the weekend.

On Saturday, the army opened fire on supporters of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria who tried to block a convoy carrying army Chief of Staff Lt. Col. Tukur Buratai to a swearing-in ceremony in Zaria, northern Nigeria.

The following day, the military arrested Islamic Movement leader Ibrahim Zakzaky in an early-morning raid on his home, during which his deputy Muhammad Turi and sect spokesman Ibrahim Usman were killed.

The movement also claimed Zakzaky’s wife and teenage son were also killed.

“We denounce the well-known belligerent posture of the Nigerian military towards unarmed civilians as manifested in this massacre,” Muslim Rights Concern Director Ishaq Akintola said in a statement on Monday.

“It is reckless, lawless and barbaric. It is wanton exhibition of lack of respect for human life and an open infringement on Allah-given fundamental human rights of defenseless Nigerians. It is impunity of the highest order.”

Following Saturday’s incident, the military accused the Islamic Movement of attempting to assassinate Buratai – claims Muslim Rights Concern dismissed as “laughable, ridiculous and unacceptable” and “an infantile after-thought”.

Akintola added: “The army must be accountable. Our democracy is a fraud if soldiers will not submit themselves to civil authority.”

He called on the National Human Rights Commission to investigate the circumstances of the “gruesome massacre” and said the international community should pressure the Nigerian authorities and military to check aggression and lawlessness.

“The human rights record of the Nigerian military is at an all-time low,” Akintola said. “At a time when the whole world is seeking ways of de-radicalizing extremists, the Nigerian military appears bent on militarizing peace-loving and law-abiding Islamic organizations.”

The army has not said where Zakzaky is being held and requests for comment to army spokesman Sani Usman went unanswered.

The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs called for restraint and a probe of the incident, warning against a repeat of the Boko Haram insurgency.

“We urge the federal government to immediately constitute a judicial commission of inquiry to thoroughly unravel the immediate and remote causes of the current mayhem,” the council’s Ishaq Oloyede said in a statement.

The National Human Rights Commission added: “Nigeria’s Shi’ites are not above the law but we shouldn’t put them beneath the law either. When they die in encounter with army, it matters.”

Later on Monday, Iran summoned Nigeria’s charge d’affaires Monday and expressed deep concern over the “human tragedy” in Nigeria, according to Iran’s state news agency, IRNA.

The official condemned the attack as unacceptable and underlined the responsibility of Nigerian government to protect life and household of Shia Muslims, especially leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria.

Author: Tutku Şenen, Rafiu Oriyomi Ajakaye
[Photo: Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, leader of Shia Muslims in Nigeria arrested. His whereabouts unknown. His wife, Zinnat, and son, Ali, 14, killed by Nigerian army claims Islamic Movement. Photographer: Tajo Malli/AA]

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