Amnesty International has called on the Federal Government not to violate the rights of Nigerians who stage peaceful protests in the country.
The Director of Amnesty International in Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, said this in a statement on Tuesday while condemning the disruption of a protest by members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) in Abuja.
Members of the group had stormed the Wuse area in the Federal Capital Territory, to demand the release of their leader Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah, from detention.The Shiites were said to be moving towards the Berger junction area when they were intercepted by the police who allegedly fired water cannon and teargas, forcing the protesters to disperse.
Reacting to the incident, the Amnesty International boss said, “This was a needless resort to violence by Nigerian police against a group of unarmed protestors. Adding that Nigerian authorities must adhere to the rule of law and respect the right to peaceful protest when policing these events.
Ojigho noted that Shiites gathered in Abuja were perfectly within their rights in demanding the release of their leader from a detention.
She said although there were reports that stones were thrown by some protestors, there was no excuse for the use of water cannon and tear gas, describing such as “highly reckless tactics that could easily have resulted in fatalities.”
According to the Amnesty International boss, the arrest of 115 protesters is a worrying sign that the repression of the Shiites is set to continue.
She, however, called on the Federal Government to release El Zakzaky and his wife, as well as investigate the reported killings on December 12 – 14, 2015 in Zaria.
El-Zakzaky and his wife have been in detention following a clash between his supporters and some soldiers in 2015, an incident Amnesty International alleged to have claimed at least 300 lives of the Shiites.