Agaju Madugba, Katsina
Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), popularly referred to as Shittes, marked what they described as 1,000 days since the detention of their leader, Malam Ibraheem Zakzaky.
After three days of bloody encounters with the Army, in Zaria, between December 12 and 14, 2015, the Kaduna State Government had proscribed the movement and ordered the arrest of Zakzaky and his wife, alongside unspecified number of other members of the group.
Addressing a press conference, in Katsina, on Sunday, as part of activities to commemorate the incident, the group demanded the unconditional release of Zakzaky arguing that a Federal High Court in Abuja had, “ordered the immediate and unconditional release of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife.”
According to the chairman, Free Zakzaky Campaign Committee, Sheikh Abdulrahaman Abubakar Yola, “the International Criminal Court at The Hague has also completed preliminary investigation into the Zaria incident and it is viewing it as a possible crime against humanity.
“We have also been able to secure the discharge and acquittal of over 100 of our members who stood trial on false accusations of culpable homicide levied against them by the government.
“Sheikh Zakzaky’s health continues to deteriorate in detention. He suffered stroke in detention earlier this year from which, without adequate medical attention, he is yet to recover.
“He was sighted wearing a neck collar to support his head since then. His eye condition, inflicted on him by the Nigerian Army during the heinous attacks about a thousand days ago, has been deteriorating as well.
“He stands the risk of losing his sight completely should the government continue to deny him urgent medical attention.
“Similarly, his wife’s health condition in detention is very grave. She is made to bear the excruciating pains of moving about with shrapnel in her body since the army emptied their lethal guns into her about a thousand days ago.
“Over 100 more of our members remain in detention since a thousand days ago, also facing the very same false charges of culpable homicide.
“About 600 others remain unaccounted for since then. Their whereabouts is unknown and it is believed that they are being secretly detained in underground detention facilities of the DSS.
“Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria continue to be persecuted at all levels of government. We are endangered people, who are being deprived of our most basic rights.
“In Nigeria today, we are denied our right to freely associate and peacefully protest. We are denied our freedom to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance without government influence or intervention.
“Above all, we are being denied our freedom to life at the slightest opportunity by this government.
“As we mark the thousandth day of this travesty of justice, we demand and insist that the Federal Government and its agencies must release our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, and his wife unconditionally and immediately.
“Serial disobedience of court orders and contempt for the fundamental rights of citizens to freedom of religion does not portray our country as one that is ready to manage its religious diversity in a way that strengthens the federation.
“The Kaduna State government must discontinue its unjustified persecution of Sheikh Zakzaky, his wife and others facing spurious charges of culpable homicide at the Kaduna High Court on the wobbly ground.
“It must also take concrete steps to prosecute all those that carried out the heinous murder of over 1,000 of our members and the illegal and unconstitutional burial of 347 others.
“We have achieved much but a lot more is yet to be attained. Our leader and his wife continue to languish in detention in spite of the court judgement to the contrary.”