A United Nations rapporteur strongly condemned Abuja’s application of deadly violence against the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).
Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, made the remarks in a report in the country’s capital on Monday.
“The overall situation I have found is one of extreme concern,” she told a news conference in Abuja, where she presented her preliminary findings following a 12-day visit to the country, Reuters reported.
The official deplored the "arbitrary deprivation of life" and the excessive use of lethal force in the case of processions held by the IMN back in 2015.
Nigeria’s military attacked the movement’s members that year as they were holding religious processions, with Abuja alleging that the Muslims had blocked a convoy of the country’s army commander. The movement has categorically rejected the allegation and said the convoy had intentionally crossed paths with the IMN’s members to whip up an excuse for attacking them.
The military also raided the house of Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaki, the movement’s leader, at the time.
During the escalation, the 66-year-old was beaten and lost his left eye. His wife sustained serious wounds, and three of his sons and more than 300 of his followers were killed.
Callamard said a move by the government to ban the group appeared to be based on what the authorities thought the IMN could become rather than its actions. She said she had not been presented with any evidence to suggest the group was weaponized and posed a threat to the country.
On a general note, the official cautioned that Nigeria's multiple security problems had come to create a crisis that required urgent attention and could lead to instability in other African countries.
Callamard said the police and military had resorted to excessive use of deadly force across the West African country which, combined with a lack of effective investigations and meaningful prosecution, had caused a lack of accountability.
"The overall situation I have found is one of extreme concern," she said, and finally warned that the country had turned into a "pressure cooker of internal conflict."