NHRC Probes Killing Of 492 Shiites By The Army Police, SERAP Reveals


The National Human Rights Commission has confirmed that it is “looking into the alleged “illegal killing of 492 Shiites by the Army and the Police from 2014-2018.” This followed a petition dated 2nd November 2018 sent by human rights lawyer Femi Falana SAN.

In the letter dated 7 November, 2018 with reference number C/2017/075/HQ and signed by Valerie Duruh, the rights commission stated: “I am directed to acknowledge receipt of a copy of your email/ letter to the Commission dated 2nd and 5th November, 2018 respectively. The complaint is receiving attention. You will be informed of the outcome of our investigation on the matter in due course.

Falana’s letter read in part: “In spite of the duty imposed on the Federal Government to respect the fundamental rights of every person living in Nigeria the Nigeria Army and Nigeria Police Force have embarked on the systematic infringements of the fundamental rights of the Shiites to life, personal liberty, fair hearing, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of association and assembly.”

“In particular, not less than 492 Shiites were recklessly massacred in Zaria, Kaduna, Sokoto, Kano and Abuja by armed military and police personnel from 2014-2018. A number of other Shiites who were arrested for demonstrating against disobedience of court orders by the Federal Government were alleged to have been tortured to death in detention camps.”

“Apart from such state sponsored killings the security forces have violently disrupted the meetings, religious processions, protest marches and rallies convened by the Shiites and thereby prevented them from protesting the illegal incarceration of their leaders. General Buratai justified the brutal killing on the grounds that the Shiites had plotted to assassinate him.”

“But the judicial commission of inquiry set up by the Kaduna state government to probe the attack found that the genocidal attacks unleashed on the Shiites were premeditated the Federal Government and the relevant state governments have deliberately refused to prosecute the well-known violators of the rights of the Shiites. However, in view of the shameless denial of complicity in the brutal killing of the Shiites by the army and the police we are compelled to disclose as follows.”

“In July 2014, the Army killed 35 Shiites including 3 children of Sheik Elzakzaky at a religious convention held at Zaria. Mr. Nasir El Rufai (the current governor of Kaduna state) paid a condolence visit to Elzakzaky in his residence in Zaria. Even though a delegation of the National Human Rights Commission led by its former Chairman, Professor Chidi Odinkalu, publicly condemned the killing of the 35 Shiite and apologized on behalf of the Federal Government the culprits were not brought to justice.”

“The procession of the Shiites to mark Ashura in Kano on November 29, 2015 was violently disrupted by the Police. Suddenly, there was a bomb explosion which killed 22 Shiites. The Boko Haram terrorist sect was alleged to have claimed responsibility for the bomb attack.”

“On December 12, 2015, the army killed 348 Shiites at a religious ceremony for allegedly disrupting the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff Lt. General Tukur Buratai. Although Sheik Elzakzaky was not at the religious ceremony the army invaded his house two days later, shot at him and his wife and set the house ablaze. Three of his children were killed in his presence while other family members who survived the violent attack were seriously injured.”

“Without any post mortem or coroner’s inquest the army buried the bodies of the slain Shiites in a mass grave in Mango, Kaduna state. The Kaduna state government proceeded to demolish the houses of Sheik Elzakzaky and other leaders of the Shia community in Zaria. The judicial commission of enquiry set up by the state government to probe the incident recommended the prosecution of the culprits but the Kaduna state government has refused to bring the killers to justice.”

“13 Shiites were killed during multiple attacks on the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria by the Police and a mob in Sokoto, Kano and Sokoto on October 12, 2016. During the attack the police injured about 20 other Shiites. 3 Shiites were killed in Kano when the police opened fire on the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria on November 6, 2017 during an annual religious procession in Kano.”

“20 Shiites and a police man were killed on November 14, 2017 at Tamburawa on the outskirts of Kano city when the Police violently stopped a procession of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. The leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in Sokoto State, Malam Kasim Rinintawaye died on February 9, 2018 following injuries sustained by him when he was shot by the police during a peaceful march in Abuja to demand the release of Sheik Elzakzaky from custody.”

“On April 16, 2018, the police killed a Shiite while trying to prevent the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria from staging a protesting in Abuja to demand for the release of Sheik Elzakzaky from detention. Over 50 Shiites have been slaughtered in Abuja in the ongoing violent attacks on members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria by the army and the police. In defending its participation in the official pogrom the army claimed that “during the encounter 3 members of the sect were killed.”

“In his 2017 New Year Message, President Mohammadu Buhari had directed the security agencies to respect the fundamental rights of the Shiites when he said that “As for our brothers and sisters in the Shia Community, we urge them, too, to embrace peace. They must accept the laws of the country they live in. They cannot be islands by themselves. At the same time, the law enforcement agencies must treat them humanely and according to the rule of law.”

“But while many of the Shiites have been prosecuted for breaching some provisions of the Penal Code applicable in the northern states and the federal capital territory the President has not called the security forces to order for subjecting the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria to horrendous brutality and inhuman treatment.”

“Contrary to the official propaganda that the Shiites do not believe in the Rule of Law they have approached several courts to secure the enforcement of their fundamental rights which have been regularly violated by the security agencies. For instance, Sheik Elzakzaky and his wife, Hajia Zeinab Elzakzaky challenged their illegal arrest and detention at the federal high court sitting in Abuja.”

“In a judgment delivered on December 2, 2016, the federal high court presided over by Kolawole J. (as he then was) declared the arrest and detention of the Elzakzakys illegal, awarded them reparation of N50 million and ordered the Federal Government to provide them a temporary accommodation since their house had been demolished by the Kaduna state government.”

“In two separate suits, the Kano and Sokoto judicial divisions of the federal high court have upheld the fundamental rights of the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria to life, freedom of religion and freedom of expression including the right to engage in peaceful processions. But in utter contempt of the federal high court the Federal Government has refused to release Sheik Elzazaky and his wife from illegal custody.”

“Both the army and the police have refused to recognize the right of the Shiites to participate in peaceful rallies. As you are no doubt aware, the Federal Government has continued to justify such subversion of the Rule of Law under the pretext of protecting national security!”

“The Islamic Movement of Nigeria has also provided defence counsel for the over 500 of its members who have been dragged to various criminal courts and charged with unlawful assembly and conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace by the Police in Abuja, Sokoto and Kano states. It may interest you to know that the 100 Shiites who were charged with the offence of culpable homicide arising from the alleged killing of a soldier in Zaria on December 12, 2015 have been discharged and acquitted by the Kaduna state high court.”

“Following the dismissal of the frivolous charge the Kaduna state government has turned around to charge Elzakzaky and his wife with culpable homicide before the high court in Kaduna for the alleged killing of the same soldier! The violent disruption of the religious processions and protest marches of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria resulting in the brutal killing of not less than 492 Shiites from July 2014 to November 2018 constitutes a violation of the fundamental rights of the Shiites to life, freedom of thought, conscience and religion and freedom of expression, assembly and association.”

“In order to restrain the heads of the Nigeria Army, Nigeria Police Force and State Security Service (who are Sunnis) from further deploying the machinery of the Federal Government to prosecute an intra-religious war we urge you to arrest the extermination of the Shiites without any further delay. Since the nation cannot afford to turn the Islamic Movement of Nigeria into another terrorist organization like the satanic Boko Haram sect, we request the National Human Rights Commission to conduct a full-scale inquiry into the gross violations of the fundamental rights of the Shiites highlighted in this letter.”

Tayo Soyemi

Falana and Falana Chambers