Shi’ites: Rights Group Chides Buhari, Indicts Police for Violence

931 views | Akanimo Sampson | July 31, 2019

A civic group in Nigeria that is concerned with upholding the rights of citizens is holding President Muhammadu Buhari and the Police responsible for the violent turn in the Shi’ites’ protests that rocked Abuja, the country’s capital city last week, leaving more than 10 persons, including a top police chief dead.

After considering the nature of the clash and the approach with which the police engaged the situation, the group, Civil Rights Council, strongly condemned in its totality what they described as ‘’the reckless engagement’’ of the Islamic group by men of the Nigeria Police that led to loss of lives.

Secretary of the rights group, Nancy Utaina, said in an e-mail to this reporter, ‘’the reoccurring of this kind of situation is becoming an issue of concern to all’’, adding, ‘’while we do not support any act violence by the sect or any organisation, the incident that led to the use of firearms by the police force on the unarmed protesters in Abuja is totally uncalled for.

‘’The incident could have been averted if the police had acted more professionally while dealing with the Shi’ite group rather than engaging them in sporadic shootings that resulted in the killing of innocent Nigerians.’’

The Shi’ite, a mass Islamic movement came out in their hundreds to protest the continued detention of their leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky who was arrested and detained since December 2015. The group has since then been relentless in their campaign for the release of their detained leader and in decrying what is believed to be an unwarranted persecution of their members.

While calling on the President Buhari administration to yield to the court order that grants bail to the detained Islamic religious leader, the rights group said, ‘’the death of Precious Owolabi of Channels TV, the Deputy Commissioner of Police and other Nigerians would have been averted if only the court order to grant bail was adhered to. We also call on the Nigeria Police to apply professionalism in dealing with civil disobedience.’’

Adding, the group said, ‘’we call on the government to be more proactive and responsible in addressing the needs of all citizens especially when it comes to protecting lives and properties.’’

Before now, the continuous killing of Nigerians in avoidable bloody clashes in various parts of the country, has been a matter of serious concern to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), particularly the preventable skirmishes between the police and protesters.

‘’The PDP is heartbroken that the misrule of the President Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration has gradually turned various parts of our country, including the nation’s capital, into arenas of violence and bloodletting’’, the party’s Spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, had said.

According to him, ‘’our party is particularly saddened by the death of an innocent National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, attached to the Channels TV, 23 years old Precious Owolabi, who was shot during the bloody clash between the police and protesters in Abuja.

‘’Indeed, our hearts reach out to his family at this moment of grief. The killing of Owolabi, as well as the avoidable deaths of other compatriots, including a Deputy Commissioner of Police, is indeed another sad commentary on the irreplaceable losses and anguish families in Nigeria have continued to bear under the APC.

‘’The PDP holds that President Buhari has not demonstrated enough capacity and commitment to effectively manage our national affairs and put measures in place to ensure a stable, united, equitable and secured Nigeria. Also, the APC has shown that it is completely unpatriotic and only out to destabilize our nation for its selfish reasons.’’

The party noted that had President Buhari given the littlest consideration to the continuous wise counsel by well-meaning Nigerian leaders, including former presidents, as well as international bodies, ‘’the security challenges confronting our nation would have been reduced to the barest minimum.’’

The PDP is therefore, charging President Buhari to listen to the voice of reason, arise and take immediate steps that will put to an end the violence ravaging the country, adding, ‘’in the same vein, APC must end all its manifest anti-people tendencies, noxious body language and all acts that promote impunity and lawlessness in our land.’’

For two days early last week, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja was thrown into chaos as members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), the Shi’ite clashed with the police. The clash that took place at the Federal Secretariat led to the preventable death of no fewer than 10 members of the group.

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