By Paul Obi in Abuja
Amnesty International yesterday called on the federal government to as a matter of urgency release the leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) otherwise known as Shiite, Shiek Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, following a court order mandating the government to set him free.
The interim Director of Amnesty International in Nigeria, Makmid Kamara, said: “The Nigerian authorities must immediately comply with a High Court order and release El-Zakzaky and his wife from detention.
“El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Malama Zeenah Ibraheem, have been in detention without charge for more than a year following a clash between his supporters and the Nigerian military in which soldiers slaughtered hundreds of men, women and children.”
The authorities claim he is being held in “protective custody,” Kamara stated.
He maintained that “the 45-day deadline given for their release expires today and that if the government deliberately disregards the orders of its own courts, it would demonstrate a flagrant – and dangerous – contempt for the rule of law.
“El-Zakzaky is being unlawfully detained. This might be part of a wider effort to cover up the gruesome crimes committed by members of the security forces in Zaria in December 2015 that left hundreds dead.”
Kamara observed that “On December 2, 2016 the Federal High Court in Abuja ruled that El-Zakzaky and Malama should be released within 45 days. The court described their detention, which began in December 2015, as illegal and unconstitutional. The deadline for the court order expires on January 16.
“Amnesty International is also calling on the authorities to release other IMN supporters arrested at the same time as El-Zakzaky and his wife, who likewise remain in detention without charge.
According to Amnesty International’s report, more than 350 IMN members were killed by security forces between 12 and 14 December 2015 in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The IMN is a Shit’ite religious and political organisation whose leader, El-Zakzaky, has been a proponent of Shi’a Islam in Nigeria since the 1980s.”
Also, processions, demonstrations and other activities organised by the IMN, usually without obtaining the necessary permits and at times blocking public roads, have led to stiff confrontation with the Nigerian authorities and bitter relations with other group in the north where the operated.