Shiite group writes US not to sell weapons to Nigeria

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – According to a recent report, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), a Shiite group, has written to the United States (US) government to discourage its sale of weapons or any military hardware to Nigeria.

The group claims that, ‘the military’s human rights record in Nigeria is utterly dismal and the Nigerian government’s commitment to the rule of law is even worse off.’

The letter, which was dated August 17, was signed by the head of the Free Zakzaky Campaign Committee, Abdulrahaman Abubakar.

Particularly, the group called the attention of the US government to what it describes as ‘incessant refusal of the government to acknowledge excesses of the miliary in handling civilian matters, but even tries to justify them.

Citing an example, the group wrote about the ‘blatant murder of 34 unarmed civilians’ in Zaria in 2014, including the children of Sheikh Zakzaky, without the government doing anything about it.

It added that:

‘As if it was not grievous enough, the murderous soldiers returned in December, 2015 with an even more brutal force, resulting in the death of over a thousand innocent citizens. The initial response of the government to this callous disregard for human lives was to say, it was a ‘military affair’.’

According to the group, there is usually no properly conducted inquiries, no prosecutions, no remorse and no public apologies after such acts are committed by the military.

The group also cited the continued incarceration of its leader Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife, after shooting at them at point-blank range, treating them in the most humiliating and denigrating manner before taking them into an incommunicado detention without charges for twenty months.

They lamented that, even after a Nigerian High Court had ruled that the detention is unconstitutional and ordered their release, the government has continued to defy the order with contempt.

The Shiite group accused the government of ‘shirking in its duties to hold its soldiers to account’.

Their petition also called for the US to place embargoes, such as travel bans among others, on senior military and political leaders, until genuine committment to the principles of rule of law, justice, fair play and human rights can be demonstrated beyond rhetoric and half-hearted measures by the government.

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