An activist, Comrade Timi Frank, who is the Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress has written an open letter to the United Nations Secretary-General over the recent brazen killing of unarmed Shi’ah protesters by the Nigerian Army.
The letter, which was made available to the public this afternoon, was also copied to a number of foreign offices including the US Ambassador, the British High Commissioner, the French and German Ambassadors as well as the Representative of the European Union in Nigeria.
The letter called for the urgent establishment of an International Inquiry into the atrocious crimes against humanity.
Read below the letter:
OPEN LETTER TO THE UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL
The Secretary/General of the United Nations
H.E. António Guterres
Thru: UN’s Abuja Office
Central Business Area
Area 1, Garki Abuja.
Shi’ites’ Killings: Urgent For International Judicial Commission of Inquiry
It saddens me to use this medium to bring to your attention the latest atrocity and crime against humanity being perpetrated against the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) by troops of the Nigerian Army. The purpose of this petition is not only to report the several incidents and clashes between the army and members of the IMN popularly called Shia (Shi’ites), but to urge you to call the Nigerian Government and by extension the Nigerian military to order. I believe your urgent intervention will not only stop the mass killing of Shia members by the army but will restore calm to the streets of Abuja and put a halt to the wanton use of live ammunition against defenceless citizens.
The crime of the Shia members at this time is that they embarked on a procession in observance of their religious traditions, during which they publicly called on the Nigerian authorities to release their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-ZakZaky, illegally incarcerated since 2015, against lawful pronouncements by courts in the land.
Let me point out that there has been an upsurge in street matches organized by the Shia members around the Abuja metropolis in the last three years following the Zaria massacre of the sect’s members. The attack was carried out by men of the Nigerian army in Zaria, Kaduna State, on Saturday, 12 December 2015. According to the report of the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Judicial Commission of Inquiry that probed the incident, about 348 Shia Muslims, including El-Zakzaky’s children were killed during that singular confrontation. The sect leader suffered severe injuries. He was subsequently arrested during the operation and has been in detention. The Army claimed that it responded to alleged attempt to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, by the sect. The IMN debunked the allegation, saying the attack was unprovoked. The Commission was instituted by the Kaduna State Government under Governor Nasir El-rufai and made public on August 1, 2016. Its recommendation that the officers found culpable in the killing of the Shia adherents be prosecuted has not been implemented.
You are no doubt aware that the incidence of citizens’ taking to the streets to express their opinion publicly is common enough in member nations. In such rallies or demonstrations, the utterances or behaviour of the participants ought to be seen as an inevitable consequence of individual and collective freedom, in line with International best practices. Let me observe that events during the Shia procession have not always been violent, but efforts to stop or curtail their movement by security forces have inexorably led to clashes between troops and the protesters. Video evidence available online showed some of the protesters hurling objects at soldiers, and the soldiers shooting at the protesters against extant United Nations’ General Assembly resolutions and principles on the use of firearms against protesters. The Nigerian army even though provoked by the Shia’s procession failed to respect international law against the use of lethal weapons against civilians. Several of the protesters were seen sprawled on the floor and writhing in plains after they were hit by bullets from the indiscriminate shelling by the soldiers. Even though military spokesmen has put the combined fatality figures to about 10, IMN sources say over five dozen of their members were killed and much number injured. Reports say over 400 were arrested and being detained by the police. While exact casualty and fatalities figures are unavailable at this time, I beive that a high-powered inquiry into the incident by the UN would reveal the true extent of the extra-judicial murders committed by the military against free citizens.
The horrendous killing of Shia members by the army in recent incidents, to say the least, signposts the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s total disregard for the rule of law and insensitivity towards the sacredness of human lives and the dignity of the persons. Therefore, I call on you to use your good offices to ensure that the incidents are investigated and the army and by extension, the Buhari administration held to account for the gruesome violation of its citizens rights to life and peaceful assembly. The extra-judicial killing of the Shia members negates all known UN statues, protocols and resolutions. I urge you to ensure that these violations are not wished away by the Nigerian government over claims by the military authorities they they only responded to undue provocation by the sect. The use of live ammunition against innocent protesters constitute crime against humanity which must not be glossed over by the United Nations and other human rights watchdogs across the world.
To show the level of complicity of the government in Nigeria, the presidency has neither condemned the use of live ammunition against unarmed protesters nor announced any containment measures to prevent its escalation. One thing is clear and I want the UN to take notice of it. The Nigeria government has continued to kill Christians and Shia members unprovoked and unchallenged. The UN can stop this ongoing madness by invoking its relevant protocols that punishes crimes against humanity and genocide. It is lamentable to note that the Nigerian government under the present dispensation has since abdicated their primary responsibility which is the security and welfare of the citizens. A situation where security forces willfully shoot and kill unarmed Nigerians on a peaceful demonstration shows that state agents are being illegally used to unleash unimaginable terror against Nigerians. I dare say that no President in the history of Nigeria has hated its people like President Muhammadu Buhari has done. No President has ordered and supervised the killing of its citizens from IPOB to Christians and now Shi’ites like President Muhammadu Buhari. This must stop!
I hereby call on you to urgently constitute an International Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the unfortunate massacre of members of the IMN – protesting the illegal detention of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-ZakZaky – in the las few days.
Comrade Timi Frank
Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary
All Progressives Congress
Embassy of the United States of America,
1075 Diplomatic Drive,
The High Commissioner,
British High Commission,
19 Torrens Close,Off Mississippi Street, Maitama, Abuja.
Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria,
Europe House, EU Crescent,
Off Constitution Avenue, CBD
Embassy of France,
37 Udi Hills Street, Off Aso Drive,
Embassy of Germany,
9 Lake Maracaibo Street,
Off Amazon Street,