There was mild drama today at the premises of the National Human Rights Commission in Abuja when members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria led a peaceful free Zakzaky procession to the Commission as part of the activities commemorating the second year since the brutal Zaria massacre by the Nigerian army against its members.
On arrival at the Human Rights complex however, nobody from the officials of the Commission was ready to receive the protesters, as all key officers of the Commission remained indoor, neglecting the mammoth crowd occupying the entire environs. The protesters, numbering thousands, had gone to the Commission to deliver a letter of complaints about the continuing decimation of their rights and curtailing of their freedoms of association, thought, conscience and religion by the Nigerian government and its agencies. However, to their dismay, no official was at hand to receive their letter.
Members of the Islamic Movement therefore decided to occupy the Complex for as long as it would take an official of the Commission to attend to them. Each of the thousands that participated therefore looked for any available space to sit or lie, waiting to be heard. “If we have no rights at a Commission that is presumably protecting our rights, then this country is doomed,” someone was heard saying. That appears to echo a part of the letter meant to be delivered, which complained about the cold feet the Commission develops when it pertains to issues of protection of the rights of IMN members. “Our rights are sometimes trampled on right before you, and yet no words of condemnation from you,” the letter pointed out.
After several hours of occupying the compound and environs, an official surfaced to cheer the peaceful disposition of the IMN members. “You have always conducted your activities peacefully. Even today, you still remain peaceful. Please I enjoin you to remain peaceful,” she told the protesters.
The letter of complaint was then received and acknowledged, before closing speeches and prayers were offered. The protesters left peacefully but satisfied that they had to force the National Human Rights Commission to do their duties.