The 1st of Rabiul Awwal, 1440, (5th, November 2018), marks three years since the Nigerian Army, under the President Muhammadu Buhari regime, launched a murderous attack on the Islamic Movement in Nigeria with the intention of killing the revered leader of the Movement Sheikh Ibraheem Yaqoub Zakzaky, dispersing members of the movement and outlawing it.
This gruesome attack led to the continued illegal incarceration of the leader despite the serious health condition he is facing and even as a Federal High Court has ordered for his unconditional release and compensation. Three years is not three days, therefore the way the federal government is handling the matter is unfortunate and something that should be condemned by all and sundry.
That is why we have come out again today to remind members of the public and the international community on the heinous crime committed against our pious leader, Sheikh Zakzaky and the genocide against his followers.
It has become pertinent for us to come out en masse to protest since the Federal Government and some state governments especially that of Kaduna are not ready to ensure that justice prevails. It should be noted that the authorities holding our leader captive have failed to convince citizens and the international community on why the continuous and prolonged detention, thereby denying him the opportunity to seek medical attention.
Even without recalling the oppressive acts committed against us in the past three years, it is known to all that three sons of our Leader and 1000+ of his followers were killed extra-judicially in Zaria during the brutal clampdown from 12 th to 14th of December 2015. His residence was burnt and demolished. Likewise the Islamic centre he established and almost other buildings that linked to him in one way or the other. These acts of inhumanity can only be described as brute oppression!
Since Saturday, 1st Rabiul Awwal, 1437, the day a contingent of the Nigerian Army unleashed a gruesome attack on Sheikh Zakzaky and the Islamic Movement, we have been witnessing oppressive measures taken against us on the slightest opportunity whenever we are carrying out our peaceful protests and other religious gatherings. The latest is the wanton killings carried out by the security agents on us while on a peaceful Arbaeen march in Abuja, in commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS), the Grandson of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Within three days only, 27-30/10/18, a combined team of security agents killed at least 50 people, injuring 110 with bullet wounds, resulting in the possible rise in the death toll. The police has admitted arresting 400 members of the Islamic Movement. They have so far released 142 underage persons, presented 156 people to court, and up to now the whereabouts of the 102 remaining in detention is not known. The public should bear witness.
These posers need answers: Are members of the Islamic Movement not Nigerian citizens? If they are citizens, why is the rule of law not obeyed when it comes to dealing with them by the government and its agents? Which law says that whenever there is a peaceful protest, security agents should open fire with live bullets? Why are the security agencies eager to concoct lies against us to justify their atrocities against us?
It has now reached a stage where the Inspector General of Police has the temerity to declare that the Islamic Movement has nothing to do with Islam, meaning that we are not Muslims. Where has he got the right to determine whether we are Muslims or not? Assuming we are infidels as he claimed, which law gave him the powers to use his office in persecuting us and infringing upon our rights?
The Minister of information has also come out to say the FG is spending N3.5M monthly to feed our Leader. We reject this fraudulent claim, which only points to the massive corruption going on in the DSS. It also confirms our fears that some high placed people in this government are siphoning public funds in the name of keeping our leader under illegal protective custody.
We are the ones being detained, not the other way round. We are being shot at, not the other way round. We are the ones whose properties are being destroyed, not the other way round. When will these atrocities committed against us stop? We are therefore calling on well-meaning Nigerians to continue to press the government to stop the oppressive measures taken against us; enough is enough! What they are doing to us is not in the best interest of the Nation.
We hereby reiterate our demand for the past three years that our Leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife Malama Zeenah Ibrahim should be released as ordered by the court. We also demand for the freedom of the hundreds of other members of the Islamic Movement still languishing in detention centres. This is the only way forward out of this needless crisis deliberately instigated by the government.
SHEIKH ABDULHAMID BELLO ZARIA