Refusing to accept the official line of argument that the killings were provoked, a prominent pro-democracy and Non- Governmental organization- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has condemned as atrocious and reprehensible, the killings of scores of members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria by soldiers in Zuba town near the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja whilst on procession into the metropolis.
HURIWA has categorically blamed President Muhammadu Buhari for being in violations of binding Court orders to release on bail the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and his wife just as the Rights group asserted that the right to peaceful protest and assembly is constitutionally guaranteed even though the Rights group expressed dismay at the reported decision of the protesting members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria to block the entire federal Highway thereby denying other Nigerians their rights to freedom of movement. HURIWA has called on the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria to go about their mass rallies and protest peacefully and lawfully.
HURIWA in a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf said the killings of members of the Moslem minority sect in Nigeria by soldiers were completely avoidable if the armed security forces from the Nigerian Army had deployed non- lethal weapons such as rubber bullets or water cannons/teargas canisters to disperse the members of Shiites Islamic minority worshippers who had had brushes with soldiers many times.
HURIWA said it was completely incomprehensible why the Nigerian Army had to use maximum force to confront civilians just as the Rights group faulted the organizers of the religious march on their failure to coordinate their event in such a way as not to constitute logistical nightmares for other citizens who went about their legitimate businesses. HURIWA however stated that the alleged failure of the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria to give way for other users of the road to have their ways does not legitimize the brutal crackdown of the unarmed group which resulted in avoidable fatalities at a time that hundreds of innocent Nigerians have been gruesomely killed by armed hoodlums and armed Fulani herdsmen in many states without the security forces ever arresting or dealing with these armed marauders that are causing unquantifiable havocs. “Have the soldiers run out of water cannons; teargas canisters or rubber bullets? Why fire lethal weapons on civilians even if assuming they were throwing rocks and stones at the soldiers? These killings are indeed dehumanizing the Nigerian life and making Nigerian life seem so cheap. This is absolutely inappropriate and totally unacceptable”.
“We condemn these deaths that were completely avoidable if maximum military force wasn’t deployed. We are by this statement publicly asking that an independent investigation to be carried out by a panel of investigators to be drawn from the organized civil society community, the judiciary and representatives of the security forces be composed without further waste of time. Enough of this bloodshed. We completely condemn the President’s persistent failure to comply with binding orders of several courts of competent jurisdictions that had granted bail to the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria Sheikh Ibraheem Elzaczacky and his wife who have been detained in the facilities of the Department of State Services since over two and half years”.
HURIWA recalled that five members of the Shiite Islamic sect were allegedly killed on Saturday during a clash with the military in Zuba, Gwagwalada Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). According to eyewitness accounts, a cortège of Shiite members was marching from Suleja, Niger State, to Abuja when they clashed with soldiers.
HURIWA recalled that the group, in their hundreds, were reportedly protesting the continued detention of their spiritual leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, who has been held by the Department of State Services (DSS) since December 2015 just as competent Sources said the Army shot and killed five members of the sect during the clash, which occurred at the Dan Kogi checkpoint at Zuba.
HURIWA recalled that the sect members, clad in black outfits, were said to have rejected the entreaties of the soldiers stationed in Dei Dei, Dakwa and Zuba to back off and, instead, resorted to lobbing stones and other projectiles at the soldiers.
HURIWA recalled that the Army had through Major General James Myam the commander of Army headquarters Garrisons had claimed thus: “Troops of Army Headquarters Garrison on official duty escorting ammunitions and missiles from Abuja to Army Central Ammunition Depot in Kaduna State were attacked by some members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) sect at Zuba bridge, of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at about 3.00pm on Saturday 27th October 2018.”
HURIWA also quoted the Army as stating that: “The sect who were supposedly in a procession, established an illegal road block denying motorists free passage. When the troops’ convoy attempted to clear the road block, they met stiff opposition from the sect. Members of the sect used various objects to barricade the road and also pelted the troops with stones and other dangerous items. They smashed both military and civilian vehicles’ windscreens and windows”.
HURIWA however dismissed this official angle as substantially untenable and unacceptable even as it wondered why the Army did not receive prior intelligence on the procession of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria which was publicized just as the group also expressed shock that the Army could admit moving heavy weaponry in such a casual fashion to an extent that a motley crowds of civilians had in their words attempted to overrun the troops requiring additional troops to dislodge the so-called attackers. Why were these weapons not transported at dead of the night when there is minimum traffic? “This line of story doesn’t add up. The Nigerian State must as a matter of necessity convoke a high powered judicial commission of inquiry to be made up of credible Nigerians drawn from the Supreme Court, the civil society communities, Faith based groups and representative of the Armed forces to unravel the remote and immediate causes of this massacre of civilians by armed soldiers.”