Human rights groups on Thursday called on Nigeria to investigate the killing of an Islamist leader shot dead in military custody after leading an uprising that caused hundreds of deaths.
The leader of the self-styled Taliban sect, Mohammed Yusuf, was shot dead after troops arrested him and routed his followers late Thursday. One officer said he begged for mercy before he was gunned down.
“We call upon Nigerian authorities to take immediate action and to investigate and prosecute those responsible for this arbitrary killing and any others that have taken place during this week’s violent clashes,” said Eric Guttschus, Nigeria researcher for Human Rights Watch.
“Mr Yusuf’s killing demonstrates total disregard for the rule of law and the most fundamental human rights,” Guttschus added.
Nigeria’s League for Human Rights has also condemned the killing.
A senior police official said Yusuf was killed after he tried to escape in the wake of an all-out assault by security forces to crush his movement.
“Mohammed Yusuf was killed by security forces in a shootout while trying to escape,” Moses Anegbode, police assistant inspector-general for northeastern Nigeria told BRTV state television.
“I can confirm that he has been killed and the body is with us.”
A policeman earlier told AFP that the 39-year-old Yusuf had “pleaded for mercy and forgiveness before he was shot.”
An AFP journalist saw his naked, bullet-riddled body lying on the grounds of the police headquarters among two dozen others brought in earlier from parts of the city.
State television footage shown to journalists showed jubilant police celebrating around the body, with one officer saying that he feared Yusuf would have been “let off the hook” had he been brought before the courts.
He had been arrested a number of times in the past for leading the movement, and was known to warn while preaching that moderate Muslims should be killed.
Yusuf’s capture and death came after five days of clashes in northern Nigeria between Islamic extremists and security forces that killed at least 600 people, according to figures from police and witnesses.
Troops raided the Islamists’ headquarters in the northern city of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, killing some 200 followers of the sect, including its deputy leader.
President Yar’Adua had ordered the raid to crush the movement “once and for all.”
Some 4,000 residents displaced by the fighting were staying in camps set up in the grounds of military barracks and police stations, the local branch International committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.
“We now have over 4,000 displaced people staying in these camps,” Ibrahim Aliyu told AFP in Maiduguri.
The Taliban emerged in 2002 in Maiduguri before setting up a camp on the border with Niger, from where they launched a series of attacks on the police. Observers estimate Yusuf had thousands of followers.
The unrest is the deadliest in Nigeria since November last year when human rights groups say up to 700 were killed in the central city of Jos in direct clashes between Muslims and Christians.
Source: Yahoo News
This is one of those d*mn if you do, d*mn if you don’t scenarios. While Yusuf might have deserved a fair trial, there is no telling if he would have been set free like he had been the previous 3-4 times he had been arrested.
Thoughts? We would really like to hear what people think of his capture and killing.