Shiites continue Abuja protest, seek Zakzaky release

…why Shiite leader can’t be released now – Gov. El-Rufai

Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria on Thursday protested in the Wuse 2 area of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, in their usual procession, calling on the Federal Government to release their leader, Ibraheem Zakzaky.

This is also as a spokesman for the sect, Mr Ibrahim Musa, told our correspondent that seven female members of the group had gone missing since the clash between soldiers and the Shiites at the Kugbo checkpoint in the Karu area of the FCT.

He alleged that the military knew the whereabouts of the missing women.

Musa, who said the sect would publish the identities of the women next week, called on Nigerians to condemn alleged military brutality against the Shiites.

The Shiites, in their hundreds, marched towards the Banez roundabout chanting their usual song, “Free El-Zakzaky,” while the police operatives at the roundabout tried to direct their movements.

The protest began by noon and lasted till around 6pm.

Musa said, “Yes, we have been having our procession since Monday. We have not stopped. We are still looking for seven of our women. They have been missing since the day of the army clash. The military has to tell us where they are. We will publish their names in a release by next week.”

The movement had said a week ago that more than 100 members of the sect were injured by the police and army personnel in the clashes in Zuba and Karu areas of Abuja, noting that they needed urgent medical attention.

The movement had stated that it had spent more than N8m treating its injured members, while about N25m was still needed to treat more causalities of the army and police clashes.

A spokesman for the Shiites Academic Forum, Sheikh Abdullahi Zango, had also alleged that more than 1,000 members were missing while 156 were being detained by the police.

But the military had insisted that only three persons died in the Kugbo checkpoint clash, noting that its personnel were not responsible for other casualties, if any.

However, the Director of Defence Information, Brig. Gen. John Agim, said in an interview that there was no military order from any quarters to combat the Shiites.

Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El- Rufai, has given an insight into why detained leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, cannot be released.

 

According to the governor, contrary to insinuations, El-Zakzaky is not being held illegally but detained on the orders of a competent court, being a suspect standing trial for multiple murders and other related criminal offences.

He said the Shi’ite leader is in custody as ordered by the court, in accordance with the law on murder charges, which is a capital offence.

El-Rufai made the revelations, yesterday, in Kaduna, when he received management team of The Sun Publishing Limited.

El-Zakzaky was arrested in 2015, following a confrontation between his group and the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai.

Although there was an order by a Federal High Court in 2016 that he be released, El-Rufai revealed that the said order had no bearing on El-Zakzaky’s current case since he is currently being tried by the Kaduna State government and not the Federal Government.

The governor said the state government took time to investigate the Shi’ite leader and discovered that his activities for more than 20 years had caused several killings.

He said having concluded investigation, the state took custody of El-Zakzaky from the DSS and duly charged him with multiple murders.

Explaining the alleged daily expenses of about N3.5 million on El-Zakzaky, he said the money was not on feeding of the Shi’ite leader but on everything related to his protective custody.

El-Rufai said El-Zakzaky is guarded by a detachment of soldiers and DSS operatives who live in the place he is being kept and who are maintained by the state government.

He said: “The N3.5 million monthly feeding on El-Zakzaky is not only about his food, but other expenses on security men attached to him. The security men are permanently stationed with him, they surrounded where he is kept.

“He is in custody because he is facing murder charge which is not bailable, among other charges.

“As a government, we decided to proscribe Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) of which El-Zakzaky is the president because it is not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). So any procession in the name of IMN is illegal, as far as Kaduna State government is concerned.”

Explains his choice of a female running mate for 2019 elections, he said it was done to tell female youths in the North that the woman’s place is not only to bear and take care of children but also to participation in governance and leadership.

He said the choice of Hadiza Balarabe, a Muslim, was a product of the collective courage of his team in government, as part of effort to change girl-child perspective that her life only ends up in marriage.

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