Victor Ogunje, in Ado Ekiti
Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC), Amnesty International and other world bodies to investigate the murder of members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) otherwise known as Shi’ite Muslim group in Zaria, Kaduna State, and Kano State as well as the ongoing killings in Southern Kaduna.
The governor described the detention, since December last year, of the leader of the Shi’ite sect, Ibrahim Zakzaky, and some of his members as inhuman, clear violation of his fundamental human rights and an affront on the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, saying; “all well-meaning Nigerians must prevail on the federal government to release Zakzaky without further delay.”
Reacting to the latest onslaught on Shi’ite Muslims in Kano State, which reportedly led to the death of over 10 people, Fayose, who spoke through his Special Assistant on Public Communications, Lere Olayinka, said: “Murder of over 300 Nigerians, who are members of the IMN in one day and their burial in mass graves as well as continuous murder of the Shi’ite sect should attract the attention of the ICC.”
The governor said he was worried that firearms, which should only be used the last resort, are now being used to prevent Nigerians from expressing their religious faith, adding that; “Under international human rights law governing the use of firearms during policing operations, the intentional use of lethal force is only permitted when strictly unavoidable, to protect life.”
He described the detention of Ibrahim Zakzaky, since last year December as unjustifiable, saying; “In a month time, it will be exactly one year since Ibrahim Zakzaky was arrested and detained without trial.
“Democracy guarantees freedom of religion, movement, association, opinions and thoughts. It is however worrisome that in spite of these inalienable rights, members of the Shi’ite Muslim sect are still being persecuted and alienated.
Meanwhile, the All Progressive s Congress (APC) in Ekiti State has told Governor Ayodele Fayose to stop playing pranks to avoid the scrutiny of the Senate Committee on Local Governments in the disbursement of the bailout cash approved to the state by the Federal Government.
It said the bailout is different from the regular federal allocation that cannot be monitored by the allocating authority, stressing that the governor cannot hide under the constitution to abuse a special intervention scheme that specifically insisted on a set of rules for strict application of the funds for the purpose for which it was approved.
Fayose had written to the Senate a couple of days back, insisting that fiscal independence by the states would not allow his government to open its books to the Senate Committee touring the states toinvestigate how the bailout cash was spent.
But APC Publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatunbosun, said in a statement that Fayose was playing with facts and the law to avoid scrutiny on how he spent the special funds specifically approved to pay backlog of
salaries, pensions and other entitlements to former political office holders.
Describing Fayose’s stance as laughable, Olatunbosun said: “Fayose cannot pretend that he did not know that the Federal Government attached certain terms and conditions to the bailout before he collected it and we wonder why a governor that agreed to the terms is now refusing to explain how he spent the money to establish transparency in the application of such terms.
“The bailout is like taking a bond that is programme-specific and Fayose knew this before he took the bailout and we wonder why he is now behaving as if the bailout is a Father Christmas gift that doesn’t require accountability.
“It is now glaring that Fayose has many things to hide, as we had on several occasions cried that he had diverted the bailout to his private pocket instead of using it to pay salaries as the main condition attached to the loan.”
He conceded that the House of Assembly had oversight functions over statutory allocations, explaining, however, that the bailout was a dedicated fund approved by the National Assembly for the Central Bank of Nigeria to disburse to states owing their workers”.