…the violent disruption of the peaceful rally of the Shiites was carried out by security forces outside the ambit of the law.


The violent attack unleashed on the Shiites this afternoon, Monday April 16, by a combined team of armed soldiers, police and state security service personnel is totally unacceptable in a democratic society. It is highly condemnable as it was uncalled for. In order to press for the release of their detained leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Elzakzaky and his wife, the Shiites have staged peaceful protests in Abuja since last week. This morning, security forces attacked the peaceful rally, killed some of the protesters and injured others in a barbaric attack, and in a desperate bid to stop the Shiites from further exposing the lawlessness of the federal government.

In the process, the security forces breached the fundamental rights of the protesters to life, freedom from torture, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. Meanwhile, the federal government has not adduced any justifiable reason why it has continued to incarcerate the Elzakzakys in utter contempt of the federal high court. If the federal government is genuinely desirous to stop the protests, it has to comply with the valid and subsisting judgment of the federal high court forthwith.

It is pertinent to point out that while it is completely illegal to deploy soldiers to shoot and kill protesters, the Nigeria Police Force is required by law to provide adequate security for any group of Nigerians demonstrating for or against the government. Accordingly, the violent disruption of the peaceful rally of the Shiites was carried out by security forces outside the ambit of the law. Those who carried out the violent disruption of the peaceful rally ought to be prosecuted for culpable homicide.

Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), writes from Lagos.