Responding to a violent crackdown by Nigerian police on members of the Shia community in Nigeria protesting the detention of their leader in Abuja, Osai Ojigho Director Amnesty International Nigeria said:
“This was a needless resort to violence by Nigerian police against a group of unarmed protestors. The Shia community members gathered in Abuja were perfectly within their rights in demanding the release of their leader from a detention described by a federal court as both unlawful and unconstitutional.
“Although there were reports that stones were thrown by some protestors, there is no excuse for the use of live bullets, water cannon and tear gas. These were highly reckless tactics that could easily have resulted in fatalities. Nigerian authorities must adhere to the rule of law and respect the right to peaceful protest when policing these events.
“The arrest of 115 protesters is a worrying sign that the repression of the Shia community members is set to continue. We again call on the Nigerian authorities to release the Shia leader, Sheik Ibraheem El Zakzaky and his wife. The government must also investigate the killings on 12-14 December 2015 in Zaria in which more than 360 people were killed by the military.”