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SHIITES/ARMY: Hold Your Peace: HURIWA Tells Amnesty International; Nigerians

A text Of A Press Conference On Thursday 14th April 2016 Addressed Jointly By Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) And Association Of African Writers On Human And Peoples Rights (AFRIRIGHTS)
By Emmanuel Onwubiko
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Urging for caution to allow the wheel of investigative justice activated within the National Human Rights Commission probe panel and the Kaduna State judicial panel to run their full courses in the ongoing investigation on the recent Army/Shiites clash in Zaria, Kaduna State, two civil society groups - Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and Association of African Writers on Human and Peoples Right (AFRIRIGHT)- (a coalition of over 26 civil society groups) have faulted Amnesty International’s demand for probe of the number of casualties of the incident.

Besides, the Rights group has accused the Kaduna State governor Malam Nassir El Ruffai of stoking the embers of hatred and incitement of gullible Nigerians against the Nigerian Army by juggling and bandying unsubstantiated and a politically inflated number of casualties of the Shiites/Army clash without any shred of scientifically provable evidence to back up such sensationally high number.

“We suspect that the jostling for who runs for presidency in 2019 general elections may be the ultimate reason for this sensationalism from the officials affiliated to the office of the Kaduna State governor who may have issued that figure before the Kaduna State judicial probe panel to rubbish any human rights record the current President may flaunt or advertise whether now or in the nearest future within and outside of our shores. The target is President Muhammadu Buhari.”

In a media statement read at a press conference in Abuja in reaction to the uproar that greeted the testimony by the officials working for the Kaduna State governor in which a high figure of over 300 persons were alleged to have been killed during the unfortunate encounter between the Nigerian Army and the members of the Shiites Islamic movement, the Civil Society groups through its National Coordinator and Country Director Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf said Nigerians should disregard the hasty conclusions already drawn by the London based global rights forum- Amnesty International which had called for a probe on the high figure of casualties even when it is a known logical fact that both the panels set up on that sad Shiites/Army clash by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Kaduna State government has yet to wind up the exercises nor have they issued their respective reports of their investigative activities.

The human rights groups have also called for the probe of the Country director of Amnesty International Mohammed .K. Ibrahim, the Kano State- born but Zaria educated erstwhile career diplomat who was an official of the (OIC) Organization of Islamic Conference independent rights body and a diplomat in Libya to determine if he has affiliations to Islamic fundamentalism. HURIWA and AFRIRIGHTS said the statement ob the testimony by the Kaduna state government official by the MK Ibrahim -led Nigeria office of Amnesty International has completely eroded the expected neutrality of a human rights organisation.

The groups stated that it is regrettable that since the last few months that Amnesty International opened a country office in one corner of Abuja and appointed MK Ibrahim as head, the officials have often uttered statements that betrays them as being sympathetic to Islamic fundamentalism.

“Why will Nigerians be incited with hate messages against the Army based on a testimony of a witness from Kaduna State governor who has become very controversial lately?” “Nigerians should wait for the judicial commission and the investigative panel of the National Human Rights Commission to complete their probe on this unfortunate incident before we draw any conclusion.

"Let us still repose our trust on the institution of the National Human Rights Commission which was established by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Act, 1995, as amended by the NHRC Act, 2010, in line with the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly which enjoins all member States to establish national human rights institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights.”

“Nigerians should know that the National Human Rights Commission serves as an extra-judicial mechanism for the enhancement of the enjoyment of human rights. Its establishment is aimed at creating an enabling environment for the promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights. It also provides avenues for public enlightenment, research and dialogue in order to raise awareness on human rights issues. The officials who composed the investigative panel are men and persons of integrity and honour so let's keep our fingers crossed and cross the water when we get to the bridge. Let's not be confused by the sinister plots of some clandestine interests to undermine the current war on terror by the gallant Army led by the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai. ”

HURIWA and AFRIRIGHTS recalled that the Kaduna State Government on Monday said that 347 corpses were given a mass burial at the Mando cemetery after a clash between soldiers and members of the Shiite’s sect in Kaduna last year.

The Secretary to the Kaduna State Government, Mallam Balarabe Lawal, who said this when he appeared before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, said the corpses were given a mass burial in a grave on December 14, 2015 in a cemetery along Mando/ Zaria Road.

According to the SSG, a total of 191 unknown corpses were recovered from the Army Depot in Zaria and another batch of 156 corpses was recovered from the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Shika.

But the Rights groups have called on Nigerians not to allow the sensational presentation by the Kaduna State government to instigate hatred and incite them against the Army whose operatives are currently spearheading the final decisive moves against the armed terrorists of Boko Haram in the North East.

“The Nigerian Army does not need this sort of political distraction. As a human rights body we are opposed absolutely to extralegal killings but in this instance we are calling on Nigerians to exercise restraint and let the panels finish their work. We know that Amnesty International has consistently undermined the counter terror war in Nigeria. Nigerians must stay focused and support the Nigeria Army.

Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko;
National Coordinator..