A United Nations rapporteur has questioned the Nigerian government’s claim that the Shiites group, IMN, was responsible for the killing of a police officer and a journalist in July.
Agnes Callamard, who is the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, on Monday expressed concern about Nigeria’s growing cases of extrajudicial killings, and said the allegation against the IMN was “very problematic” and did not “in any way meet international investigative standards.”
Deputy Police Commissioner Usman Umar and Channels Television Reporter, Precious Owolabi, were shot dead during a protest by the Shiites group in Abuja. The group was demanding the release of its leader, Ibrahim El Zakzaky, who has been in detention since 2016.
Without evidence, the police declared the IMN responsible for the killings before the government outlawed the group. Some Nigerians have questioned the position of the police and have demanded proof.
At a press conference in Abuja, Ms Callamard said Nigeria was a “pressure cooker of internal conflict”, Reuters news agency reported. She condemned the rampant use of excessive force by the military and police and challenged the Nigerian government to conduct forensic and scientific inquiry before reaching conclusions.
“The overall situation I have found is one of extreme concern,” she was quoted as saying after a 12-day visit to the country.
Ms Callamard said in many cases, the government had failed to conduct effective investigations and meaningful prosecution.
“The lack of accountability is on such a scale that pretending this is nothing short of a crisis will be a major mistake. If ignored, its ripple effect will spread in the sub-region given the country’s important role in the continent,” she said.
She warned that the lack of accountability could lead to a breakdown of confidence in the government, and may lead people to provide themselves with their own form of security, she said.
“The breakdown of that confidence can only bring those people to look for alternatives that may be militias, self-defence, other groups that are prepared to protect them and provide them with stronger security,” she said.
The rapporteur said the decision by the Nigerian government had not presented any evidence to justify its decision to outlaw the IMN, saying the ban appeared to be based on what the government thought IMN could become rather than what it did.