Shiite Killings: Access to Justice and NOPRIN Seek UN Intervention

Access to Justice (A2J) and the Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria have requested the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. António Guterres to visit Nigeria to investigate the killing of Shiite protesters by men of the Armed Forces.

They also warned that if the UN and the international community fail to act on these matters, “Nigeria’s already grave human rights and security situation may worsen calamitously, putting planned elections early next year in some jeopardy.”

Continuing, the two civil society organisations said:
“The letter informs the UN SG that Nigeria’s military forces, have, over the last four years, committed widespread and massive atrocities against civilian populations and members of minority religious and political organizations and that these atrocities are continuing and intensifying occasioning much bloodshed and deaths of many people each time they occur.

“The letter recounts the latest clashes between the Army and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) on October 27th and 29th respectively, in the FCT Abuja and citing Amnesty International’s assessment, that “… that the horrific use of excessive force by soldiers and police led to the killing of at least 45 supporters of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) over two days…”

“The letter recounts past atrocities committed by Nigeria’s military forces against members of the Shiites between 2014-2018 and says the military has killed over one thousand members of IMN within this period. The letter deplores the Nigerian government’s consistent failure to hold military officials accountable for the atrocities they commit, as well as its national and international responsibility to investigate civilian deaths caused by military forces, saying this failure “has emboldened the military, amplified the culture of impunity within it, and ostensibly encouraged the military to expand and deepen its violent crackdown against members of the IMN”

“Giving past instances of the atrocities committed against the Shiites, the letter recalled the Judicial Panel of Inquiry Report into the 2015 clashes between the Army and the Shiites over the barricading of the road being used by the Chief of Army Staff. The letter informs the UNSG that the Judicial Panel of Inquiry had recommended prosecutions of persons who were implicated in the deaths of both a Soldier and over 348 Shiites killed in the clashes, but that:

“[I]n a brazen and ironic twist, the government turned surviving victims of the military’s vicious, brutal and genocidal aggression into its perpetrators, and commenced the criminal prosecution of 259 IMN members for the murder of one soldier. Not one soldier, or a commander, has been charged or prosecuted for murder of at least 348 Shiites. This bare-faced and unfeigned treachery is a horrendous assault on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and goes against everything the United Nations stands for.

“The letter reminds the UNSG that Boko Haram was once a “fringe, low-lying religious group in Nigeria”, that subsequently radicalized into a violent terror group, after a rash of summary and extra-judicial killings of their leaders and members by government law enforcement and security groups and says that Nigerians are concerned that history may repeat itself if government continues the violent and unprovoked crackdown on members of the Shiite community, underscoring the importance of taking preventive actions to avoid the escalation of the deadly atrocities being committed against the Shiite sect by Nigerian government forces.

“Among other requests, the letter urges the UN SG pay the visit to Nigeria to see things for himself, as well as to;

“Place the situation of Nigeria’s military Forces’ killings of Shiite members before the Security Council of the United Nations;

“Urge the Security Council to demand that the government of Nigeria takes urgent and specific steps to end the impunity of its security forces, and particularly to demand that its military forces refrain from using deadly, and disproportionate force against peaceful protesters

“Support a resolution of the Security Council urging the International Criminal Court to expedite its investigation of allegations of war crimes and genocide against Nigerian military forces, in order to bring those responsible to justice and accountability;

“Refer the deteriorating human rights situation in Nigeria to other mechanisms within the United Nations.”

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