0723 GMT September 23, 2019
In a preliminary report at the end of a 12-day visit to Nigeria, Agnes Callamard condemned the “arbitrary deprivation of life” and the excessive use of lethal force in the case of processions held by the banned Shia Muslim group, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, AFP reported.
Callamard said the move to ban the group appeared be based on what the authorities thought IMN could become rather than its actions. She said she had not been presented with any evidence to suggest the group was weaponized and posed a threat to the country.
In 2015, Nigeria’s military attacked the movement’s members as they were holding religious processions, with Abuja alleging that the Muslims had blocked a convoy of the country’s defense minister.
The military also raided the house of cleric Zakzaki, the movement’s leader, at the time.
During the escalation, the 66-year-old was beaten and lost his left eye. His wife sustained serious wounds, and three of his sons and more than 300 of his followers were killed.
The UN rapporteur also urged the African country to stop extrajudicial killings by its security forces.
“Every death or serious injury in police custody, and every alleged extrajudicial execution, ought to be adequately and impartially investigated by an independent body,” she said a news conference in Abuja.
Callamard met with various stakeholders, including government officials, right groups, civil society groups, the media and victims of abuses, including survivors, witnesses and family members whose relatives have been brutally killed.
Local and global rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have accused Nigerian security agents of abuses and summary executions of suspects.
The government has also faced accusations of not doing enough to end the violence between herders and farmers in central Nigeria as well as the kidnappings for ransom and banditry in the northwest which have claimed thousands of lives in recent months.
The UN rapporteur said that the country’s multiple security problems could lead to instability in other African countries if it is not addressed.
She said the country required changes in the judiciary, police and military to stop people resorting to violence in the absence of justice.