By John Shiklam in Kaduna
Famous Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has warned that the continuous detention of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria ( IMN) also known as Shiite, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, portends serious security threat to the country.
Speaking in an interview with THISDAY in Kaduna yesterday, Gumi called on the federal government to release the IMN leader to avoid compounding the security challenges facing the country.
He said the government must learn some lessons from how the Boko Haram insurgency started.
Zakzaky has been in detention since December 2015, following a clash between his followers and the Nigerian Army in Zaria, Kaduna State. Over 350 members of the IMN were allegedly killed during the clashes.
Zakzaky’s continuous detention, despite a court judgment ordering his release has led to frequent protests which often resulted in clashes with security agencies.
Gumi advised the federal government to release Zakzaky to avoid the emergence of another insurrection.
“Look at what we are facing now. Shi’ites are getting more militant. I have seen video clips of Shi’ites attacking and throwing stones at police officers. “This is a very serious development. Now they are not afraid of security agents, they want to revenge. In trying to revenge, they may start looking for weapons that would be effective.
“We are dealing with Boko Haram and now Shi’ites are coming up. I have been suggesting that their leader should be released. Look at the leader of (Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, when he was released, the South-east became calm.
“If he were still in incarceration, the situation there would have been serious,” Gumi said.
Speaking further, the Islamic cleric said the government must respect the court, order his release.
According to him, Zakzaky is beginning to recognise the authority of the country.
“They should release Zakzaky, moreover they are covered by the court and the court ordered for his release.
“He is beginning to realise and recognise the authority of the country because if he is granted bail and he accepts bail conditions, it means he recognises the authority.
“But when you continue to incarcerate them, they will develop resistance. This is exactly how Boko Haram started. So the problem is being manhandled,” he added.
Gumi, however, regretted the position of some Sunni Muslims who, because of sectarian differences, seemed to be applauding the government for incarcerating the IMN leader.
“I am not Shi’ite and I don’t support some of the things the Shiite does, but as Nigerians, we have to support them humanely.
Gumi recalled that prior to the clashes between the Shiite and the army in Zaria in 2015; he had cause to openly advise the Shiites to stop blocking roads.
“Exactly a year before they were attacked, I wrote an open letter to the Shiite leaders advising them to stop blocking roads.
“I told them if they continue blocking roads, something bad will happen one day. I have been advising the Shiites and the government to do the right thing. Let them release him and let him fulfill the bail conditions.
“The Shiites must live like Nigerians, there is no problem taking a stadium or a square to do their religious programmes like others do, but they should not block the roads. They should not abuse people’s sensibilities.” Gumi said.