By Ibrahim Usman
Following the indiscriminate shooting of peaceful protesters during the annual Quds Day procession in Zaria by the Nigerian military, Christian and Muslim groups have condemned the tragedy, and called for probe into the issue.
Over 30 members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria led by Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky were brutally killed by the Nigerian military in Zaria last Friday, including 3 of the Sheikh’s sons while many were injured.
A Jos-based Christian human rights group, Reach Force Nigeria told BBC Hausa Service that, the arbitrary shooting by the Nigerian military on peaceful protesters was a national tragedy that called for national concern, adding that “This could happen to anyone or group if left unchecked”.
President of the group, Reverend Yunana Oganto said Nigerian constitution has allowed citizens the right to embark on peaceful procession, adding that if the state government had imposed a ban on procession that of the Nigerian constitution superseded it.
He said, the fact that the people had conducted peaceful procession backed by law, there was no reason whatsoever for them to be shot and killed. “What the security should have done was to give them escort to ensure the procession was peaceful and to guard against bad element infiltrating it. The fact that they have not done so, there was no reason for them to shoot at peaceful protesters”.
Reverend Yunana said, his group was highly disturbed by the incident, and therefore demanded full investigation.
In a related development, two Kaduna-based human rights groups Centrum Initiative for Development and Fundamental Rights Advocacy (CEDRA) and Civil Rights Congress (CRC) have joined other concerned groups in calling for full independent investigation into the matter.
In a statement issued and signed by its convener Dr. John Danfulani said, “Government in Nigeria must know that the dark days of ruling with impunity are over and have no place in a democracy”.
Dr. Dafulani, who is a senior lecturer with the Kaduna State University also said, wondered how the soldiers could descend mercilessly on peaceful protesters without justification. “The right to peaceful protest in support or against local or international issues is constitutionally guaranteed and supported by many international protocols”, said the statement.
Similarly, the Civil Rights Congress (CRC) in Kaduna said, it will employ every legal means to ensure justice prevail in the atrocities committed by the Nigerian soldiers in Zaria.
Head of the CRC, Comrade Shehu Sani told Nagarta Radio Hausa programme, “Ance-Ka-Ce” on Tuesday that, “if the atrocity on these people is left unchallenged, it would on other people. Therefore this is a collective responsibility to ensure justice is done. We, on our part as human rights group will take the matter to any length, even to the United Nations”.
Comrade Shehu Sani had earlier told the same medium shortly after the Quds Day shooting that Nigerian government is complicit in the Israeli brutality against the innocent Palestinians.
According to him, Nigerian government is awarding contracts amounting to huge amount of dollars to Israel, which he said Israel is using to suppress and kill Palestinians.
He therefore said, while people oppose to Israel they should also oppose Nigerian government, for they are fighting the same course.