The invasion and blocking of public road for religious procession by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Shiites, which led to the bloody clashes and loose of many lives in Zaria in Kaduna State is unlawful and unconstitutional, Barr. Festus Okoye has said.
“Let us be honest; in all my dealing in life, I try as much as possible to say the truth – blocking of road by the movement is not right. But if you travel on Lagos-Ibadan express way during crusade organised by churches, you may end up spending 2-3 days on the road. Does that make them ‘government in another government’ as alleged by some people?” Okoye queried.
Barr. Okoye, a Human Rights Activist and Leader of Civil Society of Nigeria, who also disclosed this in an interview at the end of a press conference in Kaduna Tuesday, said it’s unlawful for any religious body, be it Christianity or Islam, to block any road in the name of crusade or religious movement.
The constitutional lawyer, however, condemned the killings of 347 members of the Shiites movement by Nigerian army, describing the action as a cross violation of the fundamental rights of the people to belong and practice the religion of their faith. Briefing newsmen during the conference, Okoye said no aspect of the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria condoned the killing of people as penalty for blocking public roads for religious activities.
He said some rights group of lawyers, including Femi Falana, himself and several others have gone to court to challenge the illegality of killings of innocent Nigerians by the army during the procession, claiming N3billion as damages.
According him, army would have used what he called ‘minimum force’ to disperse members of the movement for their boss to have his way, lamenting that 90% of those both killed and in Kaduna central prison occurred in private resident of the leader of the movement, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky.