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Vexed that president Muhammadu Buhari has pressed on with the draconian declaration of a religious body – Shiites Islamic Movement of Nigeria as a terrorist group through an ex parte order from a federal high court, Abuja, the prominent civil rights advocacy group – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has reminded the Nigerian president that no law allows his administration to kill civilian protesters under whatever guise.

The Rights group responded to the blanket statement by the president and the inspector general of police Mohammed Adamu that the members of the outlawed Islamic movement of Nigeria having been so declared a terrorist group, “can be dealt with anyhow the armed security forces so wishes”.

HURIWA said the statement from the duo is irrational, animalistic and unconstitutional and warned the Federal government not to turn Nigeria into a banana republic.

In a media statement by the national coordinator comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the national media affairs director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said political leaders of Nigeria at all times and heads of  security forces are bound by international human right laws and must comply by the rules of engagement because extra-legal execution of totally unarmed civilian protesters amounts to grave crime against humanity for which perpetrators would sooner or later face global crimes court for these atrocities.

HURIWA said that even the use and application of torture by security forces is absolutely prohibited under municipal and global human right laws just as the group insists that the Nigerian government has a duty to also ensure that right to human dignity is extended to all citizens including even those in conflict with the laws. Section 31(1) of the Nigerian Constitution guarantees right to life and only allows competent courts of law to determine offences that are under capital sanctions of the law and not brute force.

HURIWA which reiterated its absolute condemnation of the discriminatory ban of constitutionally guaranteed right to freedoms of movement association and peaceful assembly of those Nigerian citizens loyal to the Islamic cleric Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zaczacky over his prolonged illegal detention stated that it is a misconception for the president and the security chiefs to think they can hide under the excuse that Shiites Islamic movement is classified as a terror group to open fire with lethal weapons on protesting civilians who are unarmed. “Any violator of the right to life will pay for the crime”.

“May we caution president Buhari not to think that his friend who is the president of an international criminal court in The Hague, Netherlands can shield him from facing international justice should the widespread killings by police/soldiers of unarmed Shiites demonstrators continue. Both himself and all the security chiefs will sooner rather than later be made to face international justice”

HURIWA reminded government that under military laws the Nigerian Armed Forces when deployed for either internal or external operations are bound by the laws of war and international law in the conduct of the operations.

HURIWA reminded government that the laws regulate and limit the conduct of operations by acting as checks against arbitrary use of force just as the human rights threshold demands that government must abide by the global best practices.

“HURIWA wishes to remind government that from avalable legal body of knowledge these human right laws are intended to minimize unnecessary suffering by combatants and non-combatants during war. The laws of war and international law are therefore sources of military law in Nigeria and include the following: The four Geneva Conventions of 1949;  The two Additional Protocols of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949.Multilateral and bilateral agreements to which Nigeria is a signatory and have bearing on military service or operations. The decisions of : ICC”

“The four Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the protection of war victims are as follows:

a.    Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field.

b.   Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea.

c.    Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of war.

d.   Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.”

“The two Additional Protocols of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 are to supplement the 1949 Geneva Conventions and modernize the laws of war. Protocol I deals with the laws of war in international armed conflicts while Protocol 2 addresses the laws of war applicable in internal armed conflicts.”

HURIWA reminded government that even military law scholars have voiced the law based opinion that it is noteworthy that the four Geneva Conventions and the two additional Protocols of 1977 have been formally given effect in Nigeria by the enactment of the Geneva Conventions Act Cap G3 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. In sum, the Conventions and Protocols which are now an Act of the National Assembly, elaborately spell out the laws of armed conflicts on the use of force and the legal implication of disregarding rules regulating the means and methods of warfare, among other things. Specifically, section 3 of the Act provides for trial and punishment for breach of the Geneva Conventions as follows; a.    In case of grave breach involving willful killing of a person protected by the Convention, sentence of death. b.   In any other such grave breach, imprisonment for 14 years.

HURIWA disclosed that both local and international human rights groups are keenly watching and taking records of the ongoing military atrocities targeting civilian protesters including members of Shiites and the Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB).

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