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Shittes-Military Saga: Expel Iranian Ambassador now, Rights Group Urges FG

By Eric Ojo

BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called for the immediate expulsion of the Ambassador of Iran to Nigeria Mr. Saeed Koozechi, over his comments on the fracas between the Zaria-based Islamic movement known as Shittes and the Nigerian Army.

The group also upbraided the Amnesty International for what it described as the meddlesome and unnecessary interference by the UK-based group with the proceedings of the different investigative panels set up the Nigerian authorities on the matter.

The association noted that the pronouncement of the Iranian Ambassador amounts to taking a step too far, adding the Nigerian government must view it as a dangerous precedent and clearly undiplomatic.

HURIWA added that what he has done amounted to a breach of the time honoured code of conduct for diplomats in foreign territory because the Nigerian Embassy in Iran is not known to have so openly ridicule the Iranian regime even when that nation is notorious for human rights violation of her citizens and has severally subjected foreign tourists to unmitigated rights violations.

“What this diplomat has done by issuing a provocative media statement on Nigeria’s purely internal affairs is a violation of the United Nations code of conduct for diplomats as contained in the Vienna Declaration”, the group said.

While speaking on behalf of the Iranian government during an interview with journalists in Abuja last week, Mr. Koozechi had described the continued incarceration of the leader of the Shi’ite Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, as illegal and unfair.

He said El-Zakzaky should not be kept in detention for a long time, adding that Iran was looking forward to seeing his release and that of his wife soon.  He equally noted that the Shi’ite is a small minority group in Nigeria which engages in peaceful religious activities and that they are not harmful to anyone.

“We have never heard of unrest and extremism from the Shi’ite followers in Nigeria. The Zaria incident is unfortunate and regrettable. We hope the government will assist those who suffered financial losses during the clash”, he further stated.

HURIWA however observed that it was unbecoming of an Iranian envoy to launch unwarranted media attacks on the sovereign nation of Nigeria and for attempting actively to railroad Nigeria into what measures to adopt to resolve her internal social and security dynamics especially when it is very clear that Iranian government would not tolerate such interference in matters concerning Iran.

The group noted that Iran has no moral rights to criticize the panels set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Kaduna State government to investigate the incident and allegations of extra legal killings during the confrontation between the two parties.

“Iran should not be allowed to play a neo-imperialistic role in Nigeria. The legal mechanisms with the Nigerian federation must be allowed to run their full course with out any foreign intervention just as we believe and hope that all those detained would be given their quick dispensation of justice and respect of their human rights.

“Whilst we advocate that no Nigerian citizen must be detained unduly without recourse to the rule of law, in the same vein we call on the Nigerian government to be firm, decisive and resolute in resisting any subterranean plots of Iran to subvert Nigeria’s national security interest”, the group stressed.

Speaking through its National Co-ordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, at a Media Roundtable on Monday in Abuja, the association further argued that Iran has the most notorious human rights records worldwide following the constant suppression of free speech and the Iranian government’s clampdown on pro-democracy campaigners.

“Iran must not be allowed to dictate to a sovereign nation of Nigeria on how to use constitutional mechanisms to resolve internal conflicts when such arise.

“With the increased spikes by the armed terrorist in Nigeria, we are hereby asking the Nigeria government to treat all allegations of interference by foreign country as a breach of national security it is inconceivable how the terrorists have continued to get supplies of weapons”, they further maintained.

The association faulted the position of Amnesty International on the inclusion of representatives of the military and paramilitary in the judicial commission of inquiry set up the Kaduna State government.

The group posited that such a decision was informed by the need to create plurality and far reaching determination of the remote and immediate circumstances surrounding the unfortunate incident in the first place.

HURIWA therefore urged Amnesty International to allow local investigative mechanism to complete their assignment before jumping to conclusions.


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