Nigeria’s Sheikh Zakzaky: 800 Days since the Illegal Detention
On the eve of the 800th day since the illegal detention of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and his wife by the tyrant President Mohamad Buhari, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, has raised the alarm that their leader, who had been in detention for over two years, may die in government custody, following a deterioration of his health.
For those who still haven't heard of Sheikh Zakzaky, now would be the perfect time for you to learn who he is and why is he being illegally detained by a dictator.
Who is Sheikh Zakzaky?
Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, born May 5, 1953, is an outspoken Shia Muslim cleric in Nigeria, and head of Nigeria's Islamic Movement (IMN). Zakzaky founded the Islamic Movement in the late 1970s, when he was a student at Ahmadu Bello University. Sheikh Zakzaky was detained in December 2015 after deadly clashes between Nigerian soldiers and his followers during a rally they staged in the city of Zaria, Kaduna state, in northern Nigeria in support of Palestine. At least 60 people reportedly died in that one incident, which the Nigerian Army falsely claimed was a response to an assassination attempt by the sect's members on the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai despite the fact that IMN had already taken government approval to hold the rally commemorating Al Quds day.
Hailing from the Nigerian Shia town of Zaria, Zakzaky began spreading Shia Islam around 1979, at the time of the Iranian revolution, which saw Iran's monarchy overthrown and replaced with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Khomeini. Zakzaky believed that the establishment of a republic along similar religious lines in Nigeria would be feasible. He has been detained several times due to accusations of civil disobedience under military regimes in Nigeria during the 1980s and 1990s and is still viewed with suspicion by Nigerian authorities.
Before the Zaria massacre, on 25th of July 2014, Nigerian soldiers had attacked the annual al-Quds Day procession in support of Palestine in Zaria, a city in Kaduna State in northern Nigeria. The following day, soldiers drove to the Husainiyyah Baqiyyatullah and opened fire on supporters of the Islamic Movement within the division of the main building.
The two attacks killed 34 people including three children of the prominent scholar Sheikh Zakzaky. It was not the first time that the al-Quds Day procession in Zaria has been attacked. In 2009 four people were also killed and several injured when police opened fire on civilians.
In claims to taint Sheikh Zakzaky's reputation and that of the IMN, the Nigerian president and his entourage have accused IMN to be linked to the terrorist Boko Haram organization. However, Sheikh Zakzaky has always stood against Boko Haram and its root in western backed agenda.
What has happened since then?
Since the arrest of Sheikh Zakzaky and the Zaria massacre, thousands of Nigerian Shias have staged protest in different countries including large marches in Kano city, and similar in Bauchi after the merciless killings, arson, and plunder carried out by Nigerian Army on members of Islamic Movement in Nigeria.
When reports about the deteriorating health of Sheikh Zakzaky reached his followers, daily Free Zakzaky Sit Out spread all across Nigeria embarked upon by a coalition of groups led by the Concerned Nigerians at the Unity Fountain, Abuja and has been going in for its second month now.
The daily Sit out was contrived as a platform for the sustained pressure on the Buhari-led Federal Government to firstly, obey the court order that sets the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife, Malama Zeenatudeen Ibrahim, free and secondly, to seek to stop the police and other security agencies from violating the fundamental rights of members of the Islamic Movement anytime they engage in their legitimate peaceful religious and social events.
In some days during the sit-outs, the protestors would receive overwhelming visits from Zaria massacre survivors and victim's relatives who tell their tales of woes and the extent of brutality exhibited by the Nigerian army in Zaria between December 12th and 14th, 2015. Some of those stories were being told for the first time ever since the horrendous attacks by these survivors, as there was never a safe avenue provided to recant the stories by the victims and survivors themselves without the threat of further molestations and persecution.
According to the Reflection-Online , one Karima Muhammad, a survivor of the horrific Zaria genocide, described how Nigerian soldiers finished off the injured victims of their brutality during the Zaria massacre of December, 2015. Karima, who was a student of Federal Government Girls College Zaria at the time explained how she survived the attacks by the whiskers having been marked to be "finished off" even in the mortuary that she and others killed by the soldiers were taken to, when they discovered that she was still alive. "I clearly heard when the officer instructed his soldiers to finish me off," she said.
While the IMN says that as many as 1,000 of their members have been killed so far at the hands of the Nigerian army, a commission set up by the government of Kaduna state reported that the Nigerian army had used "excessive force" and killed 348 members of the Movement, who they then buried in mass graves.
Members of the Movement and sympathizers in Kaduna, Sokoto, Katsina and other towns across the Northern capital have continued to come out every weekend to renew their call to free Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife who are still illegally detained by the Nigerian army despite the judgment released by the federal high court Abuja that ordered the unconditional release of Sheikh Zakzaky back in December 2016.
To mark the eight hundred and one days of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky's illegal detention, the Islamic Movement will mark the event with a grand free Zakzaky procession tagged "800+1 Days of Illegal Detention" on Wednesday, 21st February, 2018.
A statement jointly issued by the Free Zakzaky Campaign Committee and a coalition of rights groups stated that:
• It is eight Hundred and one days since the tyrannical government of President Buhari has been detaining the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky.
• It is also the four hundred and sixth day that a federal high court Abuja delivered its historic judgment ordering the unconditional release of Sheikh Zakzaky, but the Buhari government defiantly hold on to him in contempt of court.
To this end, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and a coalition of Human rights groups and activists invite all lovers of freedom and the rule of law, as well as all those who stand in opposition to tyranny and oppression to a grand peaceful Free Zakzaky procession to be held on Wednesday 21st February, 2018 in Abuja by 10:00am.
Sheikh Zakzaky has always pledged the group's commitment to non-violence and, in spite of recurrent clashes with security operatives and with other sects, the risk of evolving to sustained militancy has always been low. However, with the continuous violence from the Nigerian army backed by the Nigerian president, including the killing of its IMN's senior members, detention of its wounded leader and demolition of its facilities, the group could be approaching a tipping point that would take the country to a direct clash and possible future atrocities.
Source: American Herald Tribune