In this interview, Malam Ibrahim Musa, Kaduna-based journalist and President of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria’s Media Forum says President Muhammadu Buhari should do the right thing by the law and release Shiekh El-Zakzaky who has been detained for nearly five years, in spite of a court order for his release.
Are you surprised that your leader, El-Zakzaky, was not among the 2,600 inmates that government released in the wake of the outbreak of Coronavirus?
We were really angered by the decision of the government not to release our leader Sheikh Zakzaky even on clemency grounds, though we were not surprised by the decision.
We knew how deeply they detest him simply because of the Islamic values he stands for and propagates.
In saner climes Sheikh Zakzaky would have been released on compassionate grounds since. Here is a religious leader whose six male children were killed extra judicially and over 1,000 of his followers gruesomely killed, his properties destroyed or confiscated.
Above all, a high court has freed him, but the government has stubbornly refused to let him go even though his health and that of his wife is deteriorating by the day due to the gunshots wound they sustained during the infamous Zaria massacre of December 2015.
Why do you think El-Zakzaky and his wife Malama Zeenat are still being held by the authorities?
I think those illegally detaining him despite a court order against that are in a better position to explain why.
However, we believe his detention is part of an international plot designed by the Saudis. Probably this government’s grandmasters have not given the nod.
The Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, has said that El Zakzaky is detained on the orders of a competent court, being a suspect standing trial for multiple murders and other related criminal offences that means he’s not illegally detained as widely reported? Do you agree?
There is nothing legal about detaining the Sheikh.
The fact that it took the El-Rufai government almost two years before it came up with some trumped-up charges is enough to discredit the trial.
His current trial before a state high court smacks off hypocrisy on the part of the government.
They are telling the world that they obey some part of the laws of the land and disobey some.
He was freed by a Federal High Court, that court order was not obeyed, and they turned to a state high court to achieve what they couldn’t from an Abuja court.
Governor El-Rufai also said the state government had taken time to investigate the Shi’ite leader and discovered that his activities for more than 20 years had caused several killings and harassment.
If his narrative is true, then why is he not being charged of any alleged offence apart from that of December 2015? Nowhere in the charge sheet is he being accused of anything outside that.
For the records, Sheikh Zakzaky is an advocate of interfaith peaceful coexistence, which is why the Christians in Zaria found his home to be a sanctuary of peace during the 2011 religious riots.
Before then a Kaduna State governor found him eligible for commendation on his peaceful conduct of his affairs and wrote a letter of commendation to that effect.
If at all Sheikh Zakzaky is the devil that El-Rufai wants the world to believe why did he bow to him with commendation in his house in 2014?
Neither Sheikh Zakzaky nor any of his followers has ever been convicted for murder in the 40-year history of the Islamic Movement he leads.
The Shi’ite leader was arrested in 2015, after an alleged confrontation between members of your group, IMN and the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai. Can you share with us what really happened then and even after?
It is a long story.
But allow me to tell you a brief exposition on what happened on that black weekend which I equally wrote in a book I authored, entitled, “December 2015: Shi’ites massacre in Nigeria, a survivor’s account.”
The book is on sale on Amazon.
The Buhari government should just do the right thing. Release Sheikh Zakzaky and stop toying with his life.
His continued detention under the guise of a court trial is not in the best interest of this nation.