A pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere has urged the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to institute a judicial probe into the killings of some Shiites Islamic sect members in Zaria, Kaduna State, and pro-Biafran agitators by soldiers in Onitsha, Anambra state.
In a statement issued on Sunday in Abuja, Yinka Odumakin, the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, described as worrisome the spate of excessive aggressions that had led to the loss of lives in the hands of the military in its rule of engagement against agitators in different parts of the country.
Odumakin noted that Afenifere is convinced that the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference would provide a basis to start addressing the ethno-religious issues threatening the continuous existence of Nigeria.
He said, “The ominous cloud hanging over the country dictates the need to rise beyond the pettiness of focusing on conferences convoked by the World Health Organisation, but rather to take a critical look at the issues that were discussed.
“It would be naive to think that brute force can take the place of reconstruction as countries that were superior to Nigeria in military might have in recent years disappeared from the world map because they failed to engage the crisis of nationhood in a constructive manner. The moment requires a painstaking approach of reconstructive surgery and not unconscionable bulldozing which can only lead to disintegration and not integration.”
The Yoruba pan-socio-cultural organisation further called on the government to engage the different agitators across the country with a view to holistically addressing the national issue.
It said the incident in Zaria was a sad reminder of the Bakolori, Zaki Biam and Odi massacres of the past when the Army applied unreasonable force against defenseless citizens.
He recalled that the Joint Military Task Force on December 2, 2015 opened fire on pro-Biafran protesters on Onitsha bridge killing nine defenceless citizens with a repeat on December 17 on the same spot as security forces allegedly killed five members of the Indigenous People of Biafra and Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra who were celebrating the court order to release Nnamdi Kanu from detention.
According to Odumakin, “The pogrom had its genesis in a stand-off between the Shiites and soldiers on the entourage of the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Buratai, a day earlier.
“However, mobilising troops on a revenge mission to kill several members of the sect outside the scene of the confrontation was clearly an indefensible act of vengeance and aggression which should be condemned by all those who place any value on human lives. We are for peaceful resolution of these crises with the understanding of the dynamics of social movement which makes violent change inevitable when the peaceful approach is jettisoned.
“We do not condone any group taking the law into its hands by blocking the highways but the law should be used to curtail such excesses and not brutal force borne out of self-help. It is equally irresponsible of the Army not to learn from the kind of Boko Haram error that has led to the terror we are witnessing today. It would be most unfortunate if another deadly flank is opened with these mindless killings. No good General opens too many fronts simultaneously!
“It is to this end that Afenifere demands a judicial probe of the Zaria and Onitsha killings with a view to serving justice and ensuring it does not happen again. Any country that can turn a blind eye to such unwarranted killings of its citizens in such a manner no matter the views that they hold has lost its humanity.” Read Here!