PRESS RELEASE BY LAWYERS ALERT
Lawyers Alert views with concern the Gishiri village mob action led by one Pastor Blaze wherein he embarked on a path of “cleansing” Gishiri village of people he termed as, or suspected to be homosexuals on the 12th and 13th days of February 2014.
On these days Pastor Blaze became a law unto himself and at about 01.00am and 02.00am on the respective days; he assembled a team and embarked on a breach of the law by disturbing the peace of the sleepy village. The mob broke into the homes of some citizens, destroying doors and windows in complete acts of unlawful destruction of people’s properties using wood and other harmful objects like rakes and hatchets.
About 14 citizens were dragged out of their homes and attacked without any provocation whatsoever, and in the process, looting of valuables and properties ensued alongside other vices. After the orgy of assault and battery of these defenseless citizens for no reason whatsoever, Pastor Blaze alongside his mob dragged these citizens to the police station at Gishiri and subsequently to the Divisional Office of the Nigeria Police at Mabushi Abuja. At the Mabushi Divisional office, these citizens were further detained, after suffering unprovoked attacks, looting and assault for absolutely nothing and the assailants allowed to go home.
Please note that these citizens were not caught contravening any law of the federal republic of Nigeria,
We however commend the actions of the Divisional Police Officer, who next day, let the citizens go home as no charges could be brought against them as they were not breaching any laws, but were themselves the object of brutal attacks by a mob.
Lawyers Alert notes that we live in a democracy that is increasingly being threatened by lawless and violent sects. These violent sects and people start from somewhere and gradually grow into a terminal menace to the society. Pastor Blaze and his followers (mob) is one of such, and we are worried that up to till date, no arrest has been made and this mob and their ilk across the country will view the handling of this situation as a compass for future similar acts.
This culture of violence, particularly extra judicial killings, is gradually becoming the norm in Nigeria. The manner our security agents and the law react to the advent of these tendencies is important. The Gisihiri incident appears to be but the beginning of another form of religious extremism, this time right in the heart of the Federal Capital Territory. We implore the police to decisively deal with the situation by the arrest and trial of the suspects. We understand useful statements have been made to the police regarding Pastor Blaze and his followers and we call for action.
Our country is a country governed by laws, and we implore citizens, no matter our level of belief, bias or conviction in like situations, to allow the law take its course. We, as a people cannot begin to express hate and violent acts towards defenseless citizens when we have the law to resort to.
It could be said that every human being stands the chance of being in a situation where s/he is the minority. It could be due to reasons of ethnicity, race, religion, social standing, physical attributes etc. Such situations should not be used to justify violence nor invite it on us for the reason of our various minority statuses.
CHIGOZIE ONAH ESQ
HEAD, ABUJA OFFICE OF LAWYERS ALERT.
19th Feb, 2014