Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) yesterday protested in Kaduna. They urged Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to obey a court order and release their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky. The police dispersed the protesters. Kaduna State government has banned protest due to insecurity.
The demonstrators, carrying posters of Zakzaky with the inscription “Free Zakzaky”, told Osinbajo to set a precedent by obeying the court order, considering his position as a professor and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), by releasing the Shi’ites’ leader.
Their leader, Sheikh Qasim Umar, in a speech delivered before the police arrived, said IMN was the most oppressed group in the country.
He said: “Within 48 hours, soldiers killed over 1,000 unarmed civilians in Zaria in December 2015. Where in the annals of Nigerian history has such a tragedy taken place, without the leadership of the country battling an eyelid of concern?
“The atrocities committed by the Army are the first of their kind by any national and supposedly well-trained Army. Where in the world are soldiers seen burning people alive? They burnt the elder sister of Sheikh Zakzaky and others alive. Where in the world are soldiers video-taped, pouring petrol on bodies and burning them? They burnt hundreds in Zaria, which is why probably the Kaduna State government was only able to document the deaths of 347 people in the hands soldiers. Where in the world are soldiers involved in burying hundreds of people in a mass grave at night, if not in Mando, Kaduna with the governor’s consent?
“To date, over 200 IMN members are languishing in jail, some with gunshot injuries, yet the perpetrators of the violence are moving about freely as if nothing has happened. There are hundreds believed to be in secret detention of the security agencies.
“The governor has the temerity to declare IMN as an unlawful society, despite constitutional right of freedom of assembly and freedom of religion and association. Under such an obnoxious state order, dozens are in jail because they were arrested in a black attire, allegedly worn only by the Shias.
“The most intriguing aspect of the oppression visited upon us is the continued detention of our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife, even after a Federal High Court order to release them. Where in the world is a democratic government contemptuous of its courts if not the present administration in Nigeria?
“The above reasons and many more made us to pour into the streets peacefully to demand justice. This is our right, and nobody will deny us this right. We call on the public and international community to bear witness to this oppression against us.”