…NLC calls for probe into killings
Chris Steven, Abuja
As the last Saturday clash between members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria and a detachment of Nigerian Army is generating concerns of reprisal attacks, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright has called on the Nigerian Army to conduct their operations within the rule of law.
The British Envoy in a brief press statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday on the violence in Zaria and Kaduna also urged religious demonstrators to ensure that protests are peaceful and also act within the law.
He noted that Nigeria’s religious and ethnic diversity adds a great deal to the country’s rich culture noting that it is important that Nigerians of all faiths are allowed to assemble and worship freely.
“Like many across Nigeria, I am following with concern the reports of violence in Zaria over the weekend between the Nigerian security forces and the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. I am further concerned at reports that protests in Kaduna have turned violent.
Nigeria’s religious and ethnic diversity adds a great deal to this country’s rich culture. It is important, therefore, that Nigerians of all faiths are allowed to assemble and worship freely. In addition, I call on the security forces to conduct their operations within the rule of law, and for demonstrators to ensure any protests are peaceful and equally act within the law.” The British Envoy said
Also, Bishop Mathew Kukah Hassan also called for calm among Nigerians especially those affected by the last Saturday clash saying ” the best we can do is to appeal for calm. I think the most important thing is what we are dealing with, there’s a lot of stress in the society and people are generally aggrieved”.
Speaking to journalists at the inaugural forum on Religion and Social Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa, Bishop Kukah said religious is becoming a problem and held responsible for most of the crisis and violence going on in the continent of Africa.
He noted that it is the social and economic malfunctioning of the society that makes religion to be a fertile ground for crisis and violence.
His words: ” The grievances are many. I think it is just important for our people to understand that we are in a new dawn. But we are not going to get there yet. It requires a lot of hard work but it also requires that the government has the reflex to understand and listen to what people are saying and the sources of their grievances.
The tragedy in Zaria, first of all, we have to send our condolences to all the victims. But also to understand that this is not something between the military and worshipers. It takes us back to who is in charge of Nigeria, who is charge, what can ordinary people do in terms of seeking protection for themselves and it also takes us back to the question of what is the quality of policing? Who’s answerable to who?
The unfortunate thing is that there are too many non- state actors. Where the state has remote responsibility, people are finding themselves struggling to help themselves so to say.
It is in this question of helping themselves that we are having so many problems because ordinarily this is an issue of policing. I think the best we can do is simply to condole those who have lost their loved ones and also to let Nigerians know that we are in democracy.
People have got right to make their claims but they must make them responsibly. There are proceeses, there are channels and I think these are challenging times for our nation. Nobody needs all these crises that we are having. Those who are agitating have made their points, it’s high time for us to develop capacity for negotiation because this is a democracy. You have your say but government would not be able to solve your problem if everybody is on the street agitating for one thing or the other. Once the point has been made, it’s like we have been heard, let the government now do what it knows to do best”
Similarly, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has also condemned the clash between the Shiite members and men of Nigerian Army.
NLC in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday by its National President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba said it was alarmed by the violence noting that the violence between MIN and the Nigerian Army is getting addictive, frequent and avoidably bloody and wasteful.
“For a country that has witnessed and still coping with senseless violence with attendant mass deaths especially in the North east, this is one additional violence most condemnable.” NLC said
It also said the federal government must urgently investigate the root causes of frequent mutually destructive violence between MIN and Nigeria Army.
“We recall that this is not the first time the movement had been involved in a clash with the military. In 2014, some members of the movement including the sons of Zakzaky reportedly lost their lives during similar clashes with the military.
At a time Nigeria had lost several lives and properties through insurgency, we must guide against further killings and destruction of properties through avoidable conflicts. Violence worsens mass poverty and prevents prosperity and better life Nigeria and Nigerians have just voted for this year.
Labour therefore supports the call by well-meaning Nigerians for a probe of the recent clash between the Movement and the Military with a view of unraveling the immediate and remote causes of the current mayhem and provide sustainable solutions.
It was bad enough that any group of people allegedly blocked the road, restrict the movement, and allegedly threatened the life of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant Tukur Buratai.
But it was worse and clearly unacceptable that Nigeria Army would declare war of attrition against unarmed citizens. We must all work for the rule of laws, citizens and the security agencies alike. In a democracy! there is no room for extra-judicial behaviour and extra judicial killings whatsoever.” it said