The Soldiers Involved In Zaria Massacre Should be Arrested – Femi Falana

Femi Falana

Femi Falana, a famous Lagos lawyer and a human rights activist, has said that soldiers and Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai should be prosecuted over the attack on the Shi’ite movement and their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky in Kaduna state.

The Nigerian army accused Shiites of trying to assassinate the COS, the accusation that the group denied.

The clash happened between the members of the sect and the convoy of Buratai on December 12 and 13 in Zaria, and according to Human Rights Watch left at least 300 people killed and many others wounded.

Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said in a statement: “Assuming that the Shi’ite members actually blocked the road, why was the nuisance not reported to the police? Are the authorities of the Nigerian Army above the law of the land?”

“The army authorities have refused to release the bodies of those who were massacred to their families for burial while the personal physicians of the injured ones and their family members have been denied access to them.”

The lawyer added that about 300 people without allowing to be visited had been taken to a Magistrate Court over the past two days on the basis of First Information Reports.

“The suspects were refused bail by the Magistrate who ordered that they be remanded in prison custody,” he stated.

“The leader of the group, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and his wife who were also shot by the blood thirsty goons were taken away and dumped in a military custody. Up till now, their whereabouts are unknown.

“Although Sheik El-Zakzaky is reported to have been transferred from a military custody to a police station, he has been denied access to his personal physicians and lawyers.”

Falana recalled the army and police authorities that under a “repressive” army regime, the right of access to prisoners was fought and won.

He said: “Thus, in Chief Gani Fawehinmi v. General Sani Abacha (1996) 5 NWLR (PT 447) 198 at 202, the Court of Appeal ordered the Attorney-General of Federation, Inspector-General of Police and the operatives of the State Security Services to allow the wife and personal physicians of the appellant, a political detainee, to have access to him in prison custody ‘at all reasonable times.’

“In requesting the Inspector-General of Police to allow access to the detainees his attention ought to be drawn to Section 14(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act which provides as follows:

“A person who has the custody of an arrested suspect shall give the suspect reasonable facilities for obtaining legal advice, access to communication for taking steps to furnish bail, and otherwise making arrangements for his defence or release.”

Lagos lawyer advised the police chief to allow the access to detained Shiites “at all reasonable times.”

“Having undertaken to end impunity in the country, President Buhari should ensure that the Chief of Army Staff and all the soldiers who took part in the violent attack and arson in Zaria are brought to book without any further delay,” Falana said.

Inspector General of Police Solomon Arase has, however, stated that El-Zakzaky is currently in police custody receiving treatment and can be visited at any time by observing necessary legitimate procedures.

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