7 April 2016
Protesters have taken to the streets of Kaduna to demand the release of Shiite leader, Sheikh El Zakzaky who has been in military detention for over three months following the clash in Zaria between the Nigerian Army and the Shiite clan in December of 2015.
The clash led to a massacre of hundreds of Shiite Muslims by the Nigerian Army. During the clash, Zakzaky was arrested and detained alongside some other members of the sect. Since his detention, the Shiite leader has been refused representation by the army.
In a bid to seek his release, members of the Academic Forum of Islamic Movement in Nigeria staged a peaceful protest in Kaduna state, carrying placards and chanting the words, “Free Zakzaky”.
Similar protests have also been staged in other Northern states such as Kano, Katsina, Yobe, and Kogi state.
The protest that took place yesterday in Kaduna comes just a few days after the group was accused of being behind the kidnap and subsequent murder of Army Colonel Samaila Inusa who was abducted and found dead a few days later.
Spokesman for the group, Ibrahim Musa, however immediately released a statement denying the claim and blamed faulty military intelligence for the accusation.
The statement noted that the report implicating the group was “false, unsubstantiated and a mischievous claim that looks more like a planned operation aimed at painting the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) black.”
Mr. Musa also added that, “we wish to categorically state here that the Islamic Movement in Nigeria under the leadership of His Eminence, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky has never, is not and will never engage in any form of crime to meet any of its objectives. Crime and criminal activities are fundamentally sinful and are not in our character.”
Along with the release of their leader, the protesters are also seeking recompense from the Nigerian Army for properties destroyed during the Zaria massacre as well as the release of those illegally detained and the bodies of the dead so they can be buried according to their religious rites.
The group has also petitioned the International Criminal Court to investigate the alleged military killings of hundreds of its members in what they are calling a crime against humanity.